Nestled in between Naxos, Ios, Sifnos, and Syros, Paros is a bustling yet traditional Greek island complete with sugar-cube towns, ancient ruins, and plenty of tavernas. Paros is the second-biggest island in the Cyclades, but it’s overshadowed by nearby holiday hotspots with a slower pace and undiscovered feel. Still, that means all the more reason to visit.
Paros is a popular stop-off for ferry routes through the Cyclades, lying in between Mykonos and Santorini, and its bayside capital of Parikia is a boating and transportation hub for the region. Paros might be larger than its two famous neighbors but the island gets less visitors. Nevertheless, the picturesque beaches, lower prices, and authenticity keep its few admirers coming back.
Occupying 200 square kilometers, there are plenty of rocky coves and sprawling sands in Paros that are perfect for exploring the underwater life. From the nearby Antiparos and its reefs to the island’s very own shipwrecks, these are the best snorkeling spots in Paros. So grab your mask, and let’s get into it.
New Golden Beach
Located close to the tourist village of Logaras, some 22 kilometers southeast of Parikia, New Golden Beach is widely regarded as the most beautiful and popular on Paros. The beach goes by three names, including Nea Chryssi Akti or Tserdakia to locals, but it remains true to its English translation with 800 meters of yellow sands that are lapped by crystal clear water.
New Golden Beach is one of the best places in the Aegean for water sports and windsurfing is big here thanks to the strong breeze and consistent waves. Still, it’s also one of the best snorkeling spots in Paros with sheltered rock formations around the bay and plenty of diving schools if you want to explore the marine life in more depth.
Sun loungers and umbrellas line with sands with no shortage of bars and tavernas to keep visitors refreshed. The beach is by no means undiscovered and crowds can really pick up in the high season, but the great tourist infrastructure means there are plenty of hotels, restaurants, parking lots, and public transport options to ferry you from other areas of the island. New Golden Beach is also within easy reach of some smaller, undisturbed islands, perfect for a snorkeling adventure.
Prasonisi is a small island and one of Paros’ most attractive dive sites, situated 10 minutes by boat north of New Golden Beach. With 15 to 20 meters of visibility and a depth of 18 meters around the reef, Prasonisi is one of the go-to spots for scuba diving trips, but the shallow caves, underwater rock formations, and fruitful sea life make it a great stop-off on a snorkeling excursion too.
Prasonisi is an underwater paradise and beneath the surface, you can float between large boulders and Posidonia, swim up to the coral wall where moray eels and lobsters make their home, and even spot schools of damsel fish, barracudas, and sea turtles if you’re lucky. Prasonisi reef can be dived all the way around, but this small, barren island is not to be confused with the islet of the same name connected to Rhodes by a tidal path, some 400 kilometers from Paros.
Despite the strong north winds and choppy seas that make Paros a destination for watersports, the south side of Dryonisi Island is flat, still, and sheltered. The vibrant reef here is also topographically unique compared to other sites.
Dyronisi is a tiny, uninhabited island off the southeast coast of Paros, less than 10 minutes from Golden Beach. Golden Beach is not to be mixed up with New Golden Beach which is around 20 minutes on foot from the other bay.
Dryonisi can only be reached by private boat and is frequented by scuba dive boats and snorkel groups, but you can rent your own vessel if you want to take to the seas for a day of freedom and snorkeling. The water is calm and Drionisi is a comfortable area to swim, especially to the south, but watch out for stronger currents between the reef and the shore of Paros.
The rocks are sharper and more jagged around Drionisi, bordered by sprawling fields of Posidonia grass, but the steep drop-off will give you plenty of space and around 20 meters of visibility. Water temperatures hover in the high 70s throughout the summer months and the wildlife diversity is most extensive from June to September when you can hope to see scorpion fish, barracuda, rays, turtles, and even the occasional octopus on the seafloor.
At the southern end of Paros, nestled between Golden Beach and Tripiti Beach, is the small village community of Pirgaki. The old Agios Georgios church overlooks Pirgaki bay from its hilltop position, but down in the water, there’s even more history to explore.
Huge rocks dwell in the shallow, protected waters. Weak currents make for easy swimming and there are plenty of cracks and crevasses to dive down for a closer look. That said, it can be hard to access the reef from land and this snorkeling spot is best ventured from a boat in a guided tour.
If you’re with a group, your snorkel instructor will guide you between the rocks and Posidonia grass until you’re led to the cape’s end where there’s a small ledge and a steep 18-meter drop with great visibility. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to ogle the antique Amphorae, some in scattered pieces and some in well-preserved shape, from an ancient Greek wreck that went down off the coast of Paros some 2,500 years ago.
Before heading back to the boat, be sure to snap some pictures with your GoPro of the bright pink Flabellina sea slugs and soft-bodied Nudibranch mollusks, that populate the sea bed in their dozens.
If you prefer snorkeling from the shore on your own terms and exploring the marine life in the shallows, then Kolymbithres Beach is one of the best snorkeling spots in Paros. Situated in northern Paros, close to Naoussa town, the beach is set along several small bays, split up by rock formations that jut out into the sea. Kolymbithres is one of the most visited beaches in Paros and the main point of interest in the huge bay of Naoussa.
The water is shallow and crystal clear and the white sands are equally inviting. Choose from any of the small bays, some laden with sun loungers owned by the nearby beach bars, others more quiet and exclusive. The smallest bays are the most protected with flat waters, perfect for snorkeling. Schools of fish meander through the legs of paddling tourists and crabs and mollusks cling to large rocks that punctuate the seabed.
Because of the sheltered and calm waters, the visibility in the shallow depths is unmatched in Kolymbithres, despite the crowds that flock to the beach. Water temperatures remain in the late 70s until September when fewer tourists make for an even better experience.
The fun doesn’t stop at the shoreline. Beach bars and lively tavernas are scattered in the village behind Kolympethres, and Naoussa Town, ten minutes away by car, is even more happening. Public busses ferry visitors from Parikia to Naoussa, and beyond to Kolymbithres.
Bristol Beaufighter and Marianna Wrecks
When it comes to snorkeling, it’s not all about colorful coral and sea cucumbers. Along with ancient Amphorae from Greek antiquity, Paros’s seabeds tell a more recent story about the island’s heritage, and thanks to the ideal conditions, you can explore it all with just a snorkel mask.
The channel between Paros and Naxos is home to not one, but two, 20th-century wrecks, and the first is located just 35 minutes by boat from Paros’s east coast. The Bristol Beaufighter was a WWII airplane shot down in 1943 after bombing the German airport situated in Paros at the time. Astonishingly, both crew members survived thanks to the help of local residents who contacted the British Forces.
The wreck wasn’t rediscovered until 2007 when divers took to searching the sandy bottom and gathered testimonies from fishermen who remembered the incident from 60 years prior. The Beaufighter is a popular dive site, but snorkelers should be able to make out the well-preserved aircraft lying on the sandy seabed 30 meters below. No currents and over 20 meters of visibility make it an exciting stop-off on a snorkeling trip.
However, even easier for snorkelers to enjoy is the “Marianna” shipwreck, located just meters off the coast of Agios Prokopios in Naxos, but still in reach of Paros by boat in less than half an hour. The “Marianna” was a cargo vessel built in 1961 in Holland which set sale from the Red Sea in 1981 in the hopes of reaching Piraeus in Greece, just three hours from Paros.
The “Marianna” happened to collide with the shallow Amaras reef between Paros and Naxos, littering its fully loaded cargo of water pipes, pesticides, metal sheets, and 40,000 bags of barley onto the seabed. All the crew were rescued but the wreck remains in the same spot to this day, lying between the surface and a maximum depth of 25 meters. The ship stretches around 100 meters and the rear part of the boat, reaching 33 meters long and 25 meters tall itself, is entirely intact.
You’ll have to navigate divers but it’s one of the best snorkeling spots in Paros if you have an informed guide helping you tackle the wreck. Better yet, you can stop off in charming Naxos for a bite to eat once you’ve worked up an appetite.
Psaralyki Beach, Antiparos
An island where beauty far surpasses its size is Antiparos, the small sister land of Paros located just one nautical mile east. ‘Anti’ means opposite in Greek and a number of Aegean islands come with an ‘Anti’ of their own. The islands are connected by a local ferry which takes just 10 minutes from Pounta, but the beaches and reefs are just as easily explored by private boat from Paros.
Psaralyki is located just 400 meters from Antiparos’s main port in Chora. Chora is the only real village on the island, extending from the port to Sunset Beach. Psaralyki Beach is well within reach of all of the action in Antiparos but it also provides its own little slice of paradise for visitors.
Psaralayki actually consists of two beaches, aptly knowns as Psaralyki I and Psaralyki II. Golden sands, crystal clear waters, and gentle tides make for perfect snorkel conditions, but Psaralyki is also a big paddle board destination.
Tamarisk trees line the shore and there’s a small beach bar with sun loungers catering to the few crowds of tourists that come to soak up the sun every summer. The shallow waters make Psaralyki perfect for families and you can find plentiful marine life if you swim a little further out from groupers and barracudas to stingrays.
Is Paros good for snorkeling?
Paros, and the Cyclades region, on the whole, is renowned for its snorkeling and diving hotspots with great visibility, warm seas, calm conditions, and diverse marine life. The best snorkeling spots in Paros are concentrated just off the south coast where reefs and drop-offs are perfect for private trips. However, Kolymbithres Beach in the north is one of the most popular sandy bays and is equally good for snorkeling. Antiparos to the west of Paros also boasts its own collection of great snorkeling spots.
When is the best time to go snorkeling in Greece?
The summer months might be the busiest and most expensive time to visit Greece, but they’re the best for snorkeling when waters offer from six to 50 meters of visibility, temperatures of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and air temperatures in excess of 80 degrees. The marine diversity is at its peak in July and August but you can still expect to see a wide variety of sea life including stingrays and octopi from June to September.
Is it safe to swim in the Aegean Sea?
The Aegean Sea laps at Greece and Turkey’s coastlines in some of Europe’s most popular beach destinations. It’s known around the world for its gentle waves, crystal clear waters, and great marine biodiversity and it is very safe to swim in the Aegean. Strong currents are rare but always seek advice from lifeguards or tour guides as rip tides can occur. The risk from sharks is low, and while jellyfish populate most regions, they’re unlikely to cause serious harm.