Pity the world's glitterati Greek-island hopping is losing its glory. Hedonistic hippies and the bourgeoisie have taken it up as their summer sport, turning the once-exclusive pastime into a budget-travel cliché. So what's a multimillionaire to do? Follow in the footsteps of shipping magnate and Jackie Kennedy hubby Aristotle Onassis and buy your very own island, of course.
With more than 1,400 isles dotting the country's brilliant blue seas, yet less than 200 of them inhabited, Greece is a natural attraction for island shoppers who want to enjoy clear waters, sandy beaches and fantastic summer weather far from tourists and prying paparazzi lenses. State officials refuse to disclose the actual number of islands for sale, but high-end real estate experts say 17 barren outcrops alone are up for grabs in the Ionian Sea, near Nidri Lefkada, pictured, and Skorpios, [an error occurred while processing this directive] Onassis' private retreat.
Paloma Picasso, fashion designer and daughter of the Spanish artist Pablo, recently bought the 540,000-sq-m island of Petalas nearby. Much of the growing enthusiasm stems from changes to Greek property laws in 2003 that allow foreigners to buy islands for as little as $670,000. Is there a catch? Island shopping could prove a tad risky in the eastern Aegean, because some outcrops are contested by Greece's longtime rival Turkey. And all buyers need sales approval from the Greek Agriculture, Merchant Marine, Defense and Culture Ministries. But if Greece and Turkey are at loggerheads over these Aegean gems, they must be worth the bureaucratic hassle.