One of the most popular destinations for travelers and vacationers is the Greek Islands, nestled in paradise on the Mediterranean Sea. With more than ten million tourists flocking to the mainland and islands each year, one would expect dirty and poorly cared for beaches and water, but the Greek waters are some of the cleanest in the world.
After traveling to the Cyclades this past July, some of the most popular of the islands, I expected the beaches to be dirty, with so many visitors each day from the ferry, airport, and cruise ships.
To my surprise, the beaches I visited were pristine, with sparkling, crystal-clear water, and this is something the locals are extremely proud of.
Before diving into why these touristic areas are so sustainable and clean compared to others, one must understand the Greek way of life, which revolves around the water. Greece is one of the oldest nations in the entire world, with Athens being the cradle of civilization in the ancient world. Their life on the numerous islands has always revolved around the water, and now, in the twenty-first century, it still does.
I spoke to some locals and asked them how such a popular place can be so pristine. One older gentleman at a beachside café told me this: “You come to Greece for beauty, and beauty is what she always will be.” The Greeks are a proud people; they take pride in their islands, their history, their culture, and their food. This truly shows in how they take care of their waters.
There are countless destinations around the world visited for their beaches and water, but from a sustainability standpoint, they cannot compare to Greece. Hawaii, known for its golden sand and pristine water, has plastic waste covering many of its shores. The Southern coast of California, the Dominican Republic, and Bali, Indonesia are some of the most polluted beaches in the entire world.
Greece stands as a standard of beauty as the man said, and the amount of work they put into their home is outstanding. With hundreds of volunteer organizations, and monitored sewage and trash disposal, Greece stands alongside Australia, Spain, and Fiji, all countries renowned for some of the cleanest water and beaches in the world. Marine life thrives in Greek waters, with little trash or pollution, making for some of the best swimming, beach life, and marine ecosystems in the world.
Greece’s work to keep its islands, water, and land clean has truly made the country an even more beautiful place than it already is, and thanks to the Greek people, it seems it always will be.