(CNN) — It’s no secret that Greece boasts some of the most stunning stretches of sand in the world.
While many of the Mediterranean country’s best-known beaches are often teeming with sunbathers, there are still plenty of gorgeous hideaways for those keen to escape the crowds.
But be warned, the more secluded beaches tend to be the ones that are hardest to reach.
Here’s our pick of 17 of the most secluded beaches in Greece:
1. Voutoumi, Antipaxos
The sheer difficulty and determination required to get to Voutoumi and neighboring beaches Vrika and Mesovrika almost amplifies their beauty.
This tiny island of Antipaxos (population 20) lies in the Ionian Sea, three kilometers south of the island of Paxos, itself a 90-minute ferry trek from the mainland port of Igoumenitsa.
Once there, visitors will find its jungle-like landscape appears more Brazilian than Greek, as the treeline reaches the shoreline and even the rocky outcrops are crowned with green tufts.
While excursion boats from Paxos are an option, book a water taxi for early in the morning if you want to avoid the midday sightseers.
2. Kalogria, Patras
Located 45 kilometers east of Patras, Greece’s third-largest city, Kalogria beach looks more like North Africa than North Peloponnese.
If you look towards the Corinthian Gulf, you’ll see dunes shaped by the western winds, Sahara-like sand and the kind of transparent waters that only appear in mirages.
But gaze inland, and you’ll catch sight of the national park of Strofylia, which boasts a primeval Mediterranean pine forest that extends for 22,000 acres.
Life is abundant here: foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, otters, owls, moorhens, herons are just some of the many creatures visitors may encounter.
3. Papa Nero, Pelion
The Greek chapter of the YMCA established its first campsite in 1924 by the sleepy port of Agios Ioannis in the eastern foothills of Mount Pelion.
The mountain, a secret that Greeks like to keep to themselves, rises on a narrow peninsula that combines superb alpine hikes with charming beaches.
Agios Ioannis has now grown to become a popular resort, but most visitors don’t bother crossing the pedestrian bridge to Papa Nero, the next beach along, a stunner that remains relatively isolated, even at the height of summer.
4. Karydi, Chalkidiki
This deserted stretch of sand in Sithonia, the middle leg of the three-pronged Chalkidiki peninsula in Greek Macedonia boasts a wonderfully rare landscape.
Here the unforgiving winter winds have chiseled the marble white rock headland into smooth stone and left the trees permanently bent and twisted.
The whole scene looks post-apocalyptic, especially in the summer when the calm, aquamarine waters and sweeping blue sky contrast heavily with the on shore scenery.
5. Gomati, Limnos
Gomati beach — one of the top windsurfing destinations in Greece.
The island of Limnos doesn’t have any forests at all — winter winds and animal husbandry have stopped trees from growing.
But it does hold exceptional ecosystems like the idyllic dunes of Gomato beach.
Travelers can swim in an arc of super fine sand backed by dune lilies, woody thickets of beach vitex, bushes of lilac ,wild thyme and thickets of oleander.
You can also reap the benefit of those tree-denying winds, since Gomati is one of the best kite surfing and windsurfing spots in Greece.
6. Messi, Komotini
The beach of Messi (no relation to the famous Argentinean footballer) lies in northeastern Greece, a region that’s mostly visited by travelers from neighboring countries Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey.
Yet it boasts a string of uncrowded, pristine beaches like the lovely arc of white sand and iridescent water at Messi — a blue flag classic stretching next to the delta of river Nestos, a national park renowned for bird watching.
7. Eftalou, Mytilini
This sand and pebble beach is positioned right next to natural springs.
Although it’s relatively unknown in the wider world, Eftalou beach is famous locally for its thermal healing springs, which are high in natural radium.
The 17th century building opposite boasts seven provide bathrooms where visitors can enjoy a quick soak — 20 minutes is the maximum length of time the body can handle the 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures.
In a remarkable natural twist, the sea at Eftalou beach is perennially cold, however high the mercury rises in the summer. Some say it’s the steep drop of the seabed, while others blame cold currents.
Whatever the reason, there aren’t many other places where you can hop sauna-like from one of the hottest springs in the Mediterranean to one of its coldest waters.
8. Mavra Volia, Chios
Mavra Volia beach on Chios island.
The most remarkable landmark of the island of Chios is the southeastern beach of Mavra Volia (Black Pebbles,) which takes its name from the volcanic cobbles that cover its short, but dramatic curve.
Its red-hued rocky backdrop, marked by variegated strips of geological layers, lends an extraterrestrial character to the terrain.
Even the sea looks less blue and more purple as the day progresses and the sun turns orange at sunset.
9. Voïdokoilia, Messenia
Only from the nearby hilltop at Palaiokastro village, can the beauty of Voïdokoilia beach (Cow’s Belly) be fully appreciated.
The beach’s semi-circle shape is so unnaturally perfect, it looks as though it was drawn by a ruler and compass.
Dunes and shrubs provide a photogenic backdrop, while the constant chirping and cawing is a constant reminder that the beach lies within a wetland full of life. One of its surprise inhabitants is the African chameleon, whose ancestors are thought to have reached these shores from Egypt as stowaways on ancient trading boats.
10. Simos, Elafonissos
The island of Elafonissos isn’t easy to reach. Visitors have to commit to a four-hour drive from Athens to Neapoli in the southeastern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula and a 15-minute ferry trip to boot.
Yet even Greeks who debate the merits of beaches like the French discuss the quality of vintages, speak of the island in hushed tones.
How its fine sand and azure waters remind one of the Caribbean; how the lack of tourist infrastructure provides for the ultimate digital detox; and how camping on its most famous beach, Simos, is a stargazing experience to be savored.
11. Kolona, Kythnos
Although Kythnos is only a two-hour fast trip from Piraeus, it almost feels like the 21st century is yet to arrive in this timeless, chilled out island.
Located in the Western Cyclades between Kea and Serifos, it claims many spectacular beaches including Kolona, a wide strip of a sandbank joining Kythnos to the islet of St. Luke.
After a long slog on a gravel road and a sun-blasted climb on a desolate promontory, setting eyes on this magnificent 300-foot-long tongue of sand is akin to a transcendental experience.
12. Gria Spilia, Syros
Gria Spilia was partially created by economist John H.G. Pearson, who planted trees here in the 1960s.
The most northern and secluded beach on the island of Syros, Gria Spilia is also known as “Americanou” or “The American”.
The American in question was economist John H.G. Pearson from New York, who arrived here in the 1960s and started planting tamarisks and pines in what was a totally barren landscape.
Pearson built a small house nearby and asked for his ashes to be scattered in the bay when he died in 2001.
The shade from the surviving trees from his time in Syros have made Gria Spilia a magnet for camper vans and pleasure boats.
13. Any beach on Rheneia
Flat, stony and inhabited by a few goat herders and their flocks, Rheneia’s lack of tourists contrasts strikingly with cosmopolitan Mykonos, just a one-hour sailing trip away.
Rheneia has a full on desert island vibe and the fact that visitors aren’t supposed to be there only heightens this.
It’s actually an archeological site closed to tourists, but certain trusted operators are licensed to take travelers on day trips from Mykonos.
The island’s crumpled shoreline also ensures that, whichever way the wind is blowing, visitors can always find shelter in one of its beaches — Glyfada, Stena, Lia, or Ambelia — for a lazy swim-and-snorkel session.
14. Lambi, Patmos
Lambi is renowned for its multi-coloured pebbles.
For those who consider sand an integral part of a bona fide beach, try pebble-strewn Lambi, a protected area on the island of Patmos.
Upon entry, there are warnings in English: “Forbidden strictly: collecting pebbles. Violators will be punished.”
Once you step on the beach, the reason for this is obvious: the palette of polychromatic pebbles at Lambi is mesmerizing.
Some overexcited visitors have even compared the experience to swimming inside an abstract painting.
15. Kedros, Donoussa
This compact cove can only be reached via a steep, stony track, but it’s worth the effort.
Thanks to word of mouth, the small island of Donoussa has become a top destination for Greek students whose budgets don’t stretch to expensive tourist resorts.
While main beach Livadi is an easy walk from the capital, the compact cove of Kedros can only be reached via a steep, stony track that separates fair weather sun worshippers from diehard beach bums.
An additional attraction, especially for snorkelers, is the wreck of the Orion, a small Greek steamer easily visible on the seabed.
It was commandeered by the Germans in 1941, when Greece fell to the Axis powers, and sunk by Allied airplanes in September 1944.
16. Kaminakia, Astypalea
The journey to this pristine beach in Astypalaia island involves a ten-hour ferry ride.
The island of Astypalaia is a ten-hour ferry ride (yes, really) from Piraeus, Athens.
Kaminakia, its best beach, is a magnificent sand and shingle crescent enclosed by barren cliffs.
Visitors can access it via a five-kilometer ride through a heavily cratered dirt road, but small motorbikes are unable to negotiate its steep and stony approach, and even regular cars have their suspension tested to the max.
But those who do manage to get to this hard to reach beach are rewarded with some of the cleanest, most enticing waters of the Aegean.
17. Vaï, Crete
Although it’s not quite as secluded today as it was 15 years or so ago, located 24 kilometers east of the town of Sitia, is Vaï is still a sensational sight.
Gridled by the biggest palm forest in Europe, it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete.
Eastern Crete is notoriously dry, but the forest survives as if by a miracle in a valley that’s watered by streams throughout the year.
The exotic landscape is enhanced by Vaï’s sugar-fine sands, while the palm tree forest is more reminiscent of certain remote corners in the Indian Ocean than the familiar Mediterranean scrubland.