After being in the public eye for so many years, John F Kennedy’s widow sought refuge in the middle of nowhere. Jackie Onassis, as she was known by this stage, travelled to a small island in the middle of the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece. The island, called Skorpios, was owned by her new husband, billionaire Aristotle Onassis.
Jackie O wasn’t able to escape, though. The paparazzi followed her and one day she was photographed while sunbaking without any clothes on. The nude picture of her went around the world and was reprinted in magazines in dozens of countries.
Today we travel to this small island to discover what that moment would have been like.
This is the first clear view of the island we have, as we pull into one of the main coves. There’s a small beach and a big fence – designed to keep visitors away. There’s clearly a lot more greenery on Skorpios than other nearby islands.
The only way to get to Skorpios is by boat. We’ve arrived on a catamaran that doesn’t look out of place in this part of the Ionian Sea. It’s a hot day and there are hundreds of craft out on the water.
It’s estimated that the island is worth somewhere between 150 and 200 million dollars. It has stayed in Aristotle Onassis’s family since his death although it has, in theory, been sold to a Russian oligarch. The sale still needs the approval of Greek authorities, though.
It’s a beautiful place for a dip and no surprise that it’s popular with the other yachts that come and go while we’re here. You have to assume that the island’s owners and its glamorous past are a large part of the allure, though.
Next to a small sandy beach, the small white building known as Myconos house (and once called “The Pig House”) is closed but looks well-maintained. This was where Jackie’s photo was taken.
The paparazzi would probably have used a boat like this to take their photo of Jackie Onassis. There’s certainly no other land close enough. This boat has pulled up close to the shore, though, while the photographer would have been much further away.
These days the official population of the island is just two people. But pathways along the water’s edge are cleared of vegetation and debris and, despite a large amount of vegetation, nothing is overrun. Over 200 types of plants were apparently brought by Aristotle Onassis to the island many years ago.
Michael Turtle is a journalist and travel blogger who writes about his experiences around the world at Time Travel Turtle.