The island is divided almost evenly by its narrow waist; the northern half is fertile and covered with pine forest, while the southern half is barren and quite rugged. Both halves have their attractions, though the most scenic area of the island is probably to the south toward Tris Boukes, where Rupert Brooke is buried. The better beaches, however, are in the north.
To get to the beach at Magazia, continue down from Plateia Rupert Brooke. (If your load is heavy, take a taxi to Magazia, as it is a hike.) From Magazia, once the site of the town's storehouses (magazines), it's about a half-mile to Molos, a fishing village, though the two villages are quickly becoming indistinguishable because of development. There's windsurfing along this beach and, beyond Molos, windsurfing at fairly isolated beaches with nudist sections.
South of town, the beaches are less enticing until you reach Aspous, which has a couple of tavernas and rooms to let. Ahili, a bit farther south, is where you'll find the big new marina, so it's no longer much of a place for swimming. Farther south, the coast gets increasingly rugged and has no roadway.
If you head back across the waist of the island to Kalamitsa, the old safe harbor, 3km (2 miles) south of Linaria, you'll find a good beach. Buses run here in summer.
North of Linaria, Acherounes is a pretty beach. Beyond it, Pefkos, where marble was once quarried, is better sheltered and has a taverna that's open in summer. The next beach north, Ayios Fokas, is probably the best on the island, with a white pebble beach and a taverna open in summer. Locals call it paradise, and like all such places it's difficult to reach. Skyrians will suggest walking, but the hike is long and hilly. To get here from Skyros town, take the bus back to Linaria, tell the driver where you're going, get off at the crossroads with Pefkos, and begin your hike west from there.
North of Ayios Fokas is Atsitsa, another beach with pine trees, but it's a bit too rocky. It can be reached by road across the Olymbos mountains in the center of the island, and has a few rooms to let. It is also the location of a holistic health-and-fitness holiday community, which offers "personal growth" vacations, with courses in fitness, holistic health, creative writing, and handicrafts. For information on its activities, contact the Skyros Center in the United Kingdom at 9 Eastcliff Rd., Shanklin, Isle of Wight PO37 6AA (www.skyros.com; tel. 01983/865566). This same outfit runs the Skyros Centre at the edge of Skyros town; it differs from the one at Atsitsa in that it offers a more conventional touristic experience. A 15-minute walk farther north from Atsitsa, Kira Panagia is a sandy beach that's a bit better.
The northwest of the island is covered in dense pine forests, spreading down to the Aegean. The rocky shore opens onto gentle bays and coves. This area provides wonderful hiking for the fit. Take a taxi (40€ to Atsitsa), and arrange for it to return in 5 or 6 hours. Explore the ruins of the ancient mining operation at Atsitsa, then head south for about 7km (4 1/2 miles) to Ayios Fokas, a small bay with a taverna perched right on the water where you can expect the meal of your trip: fresh fish caught that morning in the waters before you, vegetables plucked from the garden for your salad, and the house feta cheese and wine. Relax, swim in the bay, and then hike back to your taxi. The ambitious may continue south for 11 or 12km (7-8 miles) to the main road and catch the bus or hail a taxi. This part of the road is mainly uphill. In case you tire or can't pry yourself away from the secluded paradise of Ayios Fokas, Kali offers two extremely primitive rooms with the view of your dreams, but without electricity or toilets.