Pilfering Pebbles From This Greek Beach Could Cost You $1,170
Like collecting rocks? Lalaria Beach on the Greek island of Skiathos is not the place to acquire your next find.
Described by Travel+Leisure as "one of the most idyllic beaches in the world" in part for its clear waters, this special beach is also renowned for the distinctive smooth, white pebbles that comprise its shoreline. The stones are called lalaria in Greek and unique to the eponymous beach. Lalaria Beach is only accessible by passenger boat or after some serious hiking, and pebble-pinching behavior from tourists and a few locals has significantly damaged the landscape over the last few years. In response, the Cultural Association and Skiathos Port Authority has posted signs admonishing visitors to "take a picture, not a pebble," and has also begun enforcing a fine of between $468 to $1,170 for anyone caught stealing Lalaria's unique rocks for souvenirs.
This is just the latest in a slew of incidents involving tourists disrupting the ecological balance of a natural habitat, causing long-term harm or damage. Sardinia, the second-largest island in Italy, charges a steep fine of up to $4,000 for pilfering rocks, shells and sand from its beaches. "Taking away even a single bottle of sand in memory of the holidays makes the patient and long work of nature in vain," said the administrator of a Facebook page in support of Sardinia's beaches. "Keep the memories in your mind but do not take (sand) away because it does not belong to you but belongs to everyone." Another Italian island only admits 1,000 visitors per year in order to preserve its environment. In the Philippines, popular beach destination Boracay has been closed for six months due to a massive build-up of garbage, pollution and other hazards. And in Thailand, Maya Bay has been closed for three months due to over-tourism, in hopes that the coral reef there may be able to recover from the impact.
All images from Getty Images.