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Greek Islands for Sale! Super-Rich Only Need Apply

November 11, 2006

By Ioannis Michaletos in Athens

Greece is a country of thousands of islands, islets and rocks scattered around the Aegean archipelagos and the Ionian Sea. What most people don’t know is that plenty of those are privately owned, and that their landlords are eager to develop them with the help of real estate agents or else sell them to ultra-rich foreigners seeking reclusive resorts for their holidays. In this article some of the major islands assumed to be for sale are going to be presented.

First of all, to date it is rather hard for someone to develop a private island because of the Greek state bureaucracy and the domestic Archeological Agency, which is stringent in its examination of every case that involves an island that may have antiquities of any kind lurking under its soil. Nevertheless the fierce tourist competition of Greece with other states such as Croatia, Spain or Portugal has renewed the interest by many Greek and foreign investors, and the Greek government is not indifferent to the idea of attracting more investments from abroad. It has to be noted that the legendary Aristotle Onassis was one of the pioneers in this field, and was one of the first to acquire his own island back in the 1960’s.

The first islet to be sold was that of Drimos. British real estate developers bought this beautiful little islet, situated in the center of the Cycladic island complex. It has a surface area of 3 sqkm, and the reputed price was 4, 2 million euros. Another recent sale was the Kythro islet, located near Lefkada in the Ionian Sea. A Greek investor bought this for over 2.5 million euros, and now he has some 0.8 sqkm of private land to play with, along with some of the most pristine and inviting beaches in the Mediterranean Sea.

Now let’s take a glance at the main islands and islets that are up for grabs throughout the Greek seas currently.

1. Parapola. This little islet is located close to Spetsopoula off Spetses. Spetsopoula is privately owned by the Niarchos family and it is rather close to the Peloponnesian coast. In Parapola, the prospective buyer will acquire as well its lighthouse, dating from the late 19th century. Moreover, the waters nearby the islands are abundant in fish, and the tranquility of the place during winter represents a really once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. According to rumors the asking price for this tiny dot of land in the Greek sea is almost 10 million Euros.

2. Makri. This is situated in the Ionian Sea and has historical importance: it has been mentioned in Greek literature since Homer’s Iliad. The landscape is full of fauna and birdlife, especially during the season when migrating species are crossing from north to south. The total surface area of Makri is 1.5 sqkm.

3. Velopoula. This 2-sqkm-island is located right in the middle of the route from Piraeus to Crete, in the heart of the open Aegean. It is far away from any other island and it represents thus a sort of a piece of land in the wilderness of the sea. There are no estimates regarding the asking price for Velopoula, but it must be quite expensive, judging from the size of the island and the exclusiveness it can offer to anyone interested.

4. Echinades islet complex. These 5 islets for sale offer a total surface of 1.6 sqkm. Situated in the Ionian Sea just a few miles from the western shores of Greece, the scenery is majestic, with an abundance of wildlife and the potential for constructing a series of houses throughout the complex, for every occasion and preference. The likely price for the Echinades complex stands well above the 10 million euro mark.

5. Aspronisi. Ever wonder how it is to view Santorini’s Caldera from up-close? Well, by acquiring the Aspronisi islet the lucky owner will be just a mile from it- a view that will cost only around 9 million euros. The tiny 0.15 sqkm islet is located right across from Santorini’s bay, in between the island and the volcano. This is one of the most prestigious areas in the Aegean and one of the most profitable as well; some 500,000 tourists venture each year to charming Santorini and nearby islets.

6. Kardiotissa. Near to the southern Aegean isle of Folegandros, this small islet of just 1 sqkm surface area is up for sale. The distance from the main island is only 2 nautical miles and the environment is characterized by the typical Aegean rocky outlook. It could prove to difficult to make habitable, but should an owner invest in solar and wind energy facilities, he will be able to meet all his daily needs and at the same time be able to relax and enjoy life in a paradise setting.

7. Skyropoula. Across from Skyros island, its smaller counterpart Skyropoula is awaiting prospective buyers. With a total surface area of 4 sqkm, it offers an environment of tranquility for the international jet-set and their friends. According to recent information, the wealthy family Hajoannou from Cyprus is willing to spend some 8 million euros in order to get a hold of this island.

8. Patroklos. This small piece of land became famous a few years ago when the name of then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was involved in the so-called “Greek island affairs.” Right now, the Greek family Giatrakou is willing to sell the island to real estate investors in order to create a yacht marina and a high-class resort. The island has a 4.2 sqkm surface area and is only 850 meters off the coast of Attica, not far from Athens. In case of a potential development here, there are huge earnings to be made due to its proximity to an urban centre of at least 5 million people, the most affluent of whom crave a little genuine interaction with the natural maritime Greek environment. And they will no doubt be prepared to pay dearly for it.

9. Arkoudi. Close to Lefkada in the Ionian Sea there is another island for sale. Arkoudi has a surface area of 4.5 sqkm and is strategically located between the major Ionian islands of Kefallonia, Lefcada and Ithaki. There are plans for an overall 90-million-euro investment that mainly would involve the creation of golf courses along with the appropriate tourism facilities.

10. Alatas. Finally, this beautiful islet inside the Pagasitic Bay and close to the port of Volos in central Greece has a surface area of 0.5 sqkm. The Cypriot company United Five Development wants to buy the island and proceed to an overall 50-million-euro investment over the coming years. This would include the creation of a hotel with 900 beds along with a music hall and restaurants.

The issue of selling islands and islets in Greece has received both positive and negative attention within the country. The attraction of foreign investments and the creation of jobs is a major factor that calls for the sell-out of some bits of Greek land for the good of the economy.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that long-term disadvantages concerning island-selling far outnumber temporary advantages. First of all there is the issue of regulating the true identity of those buying precious and reclusive parts of ones country’s territory. Apart from obvious reasons of the national interest, there is the very real possibility of money laundering activities being obscured behind these real estate transactions, as well as motives not easily understood at first glance.

For instance, a few months ago the Greek police uncovered the largest known international network of illegal antiquities in a remote Greek island. A large part of the ancient artifacts was hidden inside a mansion belonging to a wealthy Greek family of the international jet-set that was actually stashing treasures to be sent all across the globe. The remoteness of the island was a crucial factor for this network to nurture itself over the past 30 years virtually untouched. Such a national tragedy could easily be conducted on some of these islands currently for sale, if sold to the wrong people.

To the above concerns, one should also add the possibility of drug trafficking and weapons smuggling as among the uses of one’s own private island. The Caribbean Sea has seen plenty of instances in which drug lords used their “little paradises” to transport narcotics from South America up north, and it is worthwhile to address the simple fact that Greece is located exactly in the middle between Middle East and Western Europe. Greece also represents the getaway of the Balkans to the open sea. This ideal location for holiday-makers and potential purchasers of spectacular little islands also is a very delicate one indeed for the issue of potential international contraband violations of various sorts.

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