For many vacationers, taking a glass jar of sand or a few seashells home from their beach vacation almost seems like a right of passage. Few mementos make better restroom decor than pebbles, and grabbing a few small rocks to pack up and take home can be the perfect reminder of sun-bathed memories. Unless you’re traveling to the Greek island of Skiathos, where those pocketed pebbles could come at a hefty cost.
Among the most popular destinations on the island, Lalaria Beach is lined with white pebbles rounded by the waters of the Aegean Sea. The beach is located on a remote part of Skiathos that’s only accessible via boat or a stiff hike, making it the perfect place to escape the crowds, hawkers, and gimmicky gift shops found elsewhere on the island. Removing themselves from civilization doesn’t appear to free tourists from the want of a souvenir to remember their journey by, however. Tourists and locals alike are known to pocket a few of the stones and the masses that flock to the beach each summer are wreaking havoc on the local environment.
Over the past decade, tourists have taken enough rocks from Lalaria Beach that permanent damage has been done to its picturesque landscape. In an effort to counter the increasingly common rock heists, The Cultural Association on Skiathos has teamed up with the the island’s Port Authority and residents in a campaign to raise awareness of the problem, as first reported by Lonely Planet. Tourists are now being advised to “take pictures, not pebbles,” and “Save Lalaria Beach”; Posters and signs have been hung across the island and throughout Greece.
Busted pebble pinchers are subject to fines ranging from $465 to $1162, depending on the number of rocks taken and the size of their loot. Locals are subject to the fines as well, known for taking the rocks and using them as lawn decor or to crack open nuts. If you plan to visit Lalaria Beach, remember the old saying, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”
H/T: Lonely Planet