Limnos is famous for Keros beach, one of the best freeride windsurfing spots in Greece: a friendly, safe, freeride paradise with easy conditions and turquoise waters.
But in winter, when the howling south winds show up, it is a different story. Winter low pressure systems move east over the Mediterranean sea, eventually reaching the Aegean.
Then, the South winds roar all over Greece, sometimes for days, providing massive waves with wave periods that can reach 9-10 seconds.
As the waves travel, their power builds up, and eventually they hit the South rocky coasts of Limnos providing ‘world class’ wave sailing conditions.
Here is the story of our recent trip.
You leave Keros and drive to the South-East side of the island. You follow the road to Skandali, the last, most isolated village on the South East coast of Limnos. These stone house traditional villages are almost deserted, even in summer. In winter, they feel ghosted out, as their few senior inhabitants usually stay indoors. It is a strange feeling driving past them.
At the end of the road, you find and follow a harsh dirt road that leads you to the wild south coastline. You drive past ancient stone walls, bee hives, goats and rabbits. You wave ‘hi’ to a shepard, who seems intimidated by the weather. You see nothing else for miles. You reach Skidi, the last place on the map. ‘No camping or Nudism’ says a sign. Thank god wave riding is allowed! 🙂
You find another isolated road, and drive for another 500m on an even worse dirt road. And then you see it!!!
To your right, above the low vegetation, you see sets of massive waves breaking on top of a reef, most of them peeling down the line. The wind, strong, sideshore. The temperature, warm, because of the south weather. The vibes change immediately, as you are reminded of South African spots you visited in the past. You park next to a chapel, which overlooks the waves. You take a 30m path that leads down to the perfect rigging area: Protected from the wind by the church and the hill, a small grass covered plain makes the perfect rigging area for your boards and sails. Another steep path, takes you 3m down to the rocky coast line.
And there the fun begins..
You launch off relatively easily, over a specific flat rock. Usually, there is enough wind to get you planing immediately, giving you enough speed to pass the white water. Of course, like all wave spots, timing is important. The sideshore winds make it easier to pass the impact zone. You can also head more downwind, to overcome the heavier impact zone.
As you pass over the broken waves with speed, you see logo to mast-high walls peeling over the reef. You see a fellow rider stalling on a wave, waiting for it to steep up and start the ride. There is a set behind it. And another one behind that. Your face, hands and feet welcome the warm South wind, in the middle of winter. It all feels too good to be true… There are two or three sections on the wave, and with some luck and technique, you can make them connect, and ride more than 200m down the line.
The first section upwind, is a steep, 3m++ picturesque perfect wave, providing 2-3 amazing turns. As you ride down the wave, it is hard to connect with the reality that you are windsurfing these conditions in Limnos, Greece. The next section is wider, a bit more bulky, and gives you a great opportunity to pick up speed and hit the lip, practising any aerial manoeuvre that you dare to. In the third section, the wave has lost height, and slowly reforms into smaller and softer wave, that provides you with punchy lip here and there.
And you repeat and repeat all day long…
You head back for a break, some water and a snack. Being on land is almost as exciting as being on the water. The view of the spot is amazing and you see your cheer to your friends as they rip up the waves. At the end of the day, you light a candle in the chapel, showing your gratitude to the universe for the epic windsurfing conditions you just experienced.
There is no better way to celebrate your session than visiting a local taverna (only a few are open in winter) and fueling up. Local pasta, rooster, rabbit stew, local cheese and fresh salads, go down amazingly with some organic wine.
Is it worth planning a trip?
Well, here comes the tricky part. South winds are random. Some winters have more systems coming in, some have less. The forecast might change 2-3 days before your visit.
Surf stations are closed, so you cannot rent equipment. Will the ferries run? Probably not. So if you plan to come by car, you should be here 1-2 days before the system, and outwait it in order to leave. Do the planes fly? Yes. Will they take your bulky windsurfing equipment? Question mark. You will have to call the airline before hand.
Anyway, although the spot is relatively easy, it still requires experience in wave riding spots. It is only recommended for experienced riders, anyone in the intermediate zone will get washed out pretty quickly.
If you want to experience this hidden gem at the end of the road, you have to overcome all of the above.