It goes without saying that Greece has a number of different faces. It’s part of what makes the country such an appealing prospect, but it also gives each individual area a unique identity; something which it holds on to and is proud of. Looking to find an interesting part of Greece which caught my eye, I stumbled across some idyllic and captivating images of Antipaxos and some secluded beaches amongst tropical turquoise water. There wasn’t really any hesitation, I had to find out how to get there.
It turns out that getting there is easier than the pictures look. The islands of Paxos and Antipaxos are beautifully isolated Ionian destinations situated via a 2 hour boat ride from Corfu. Serenity and relaxation are the keywords here – as soon as I arrived at the ‘main’ port of Gaios I was struck by how laid back the area seemed compared the libidinous party atmosphere of Corfu and Kavos. ‘This is the kind of thing I’m looking for’ I thought, as I dragged my suitcase onto the small concrete dock and up to my small Hyundai hire car. Apart from a small number of visitors, tour operators and the occasional passing scooter, it wasn’t what you’d call hectic – it was self evident that the natural aspects of the islands themselves were the main attraction here.
I stayed for the first week in the tranquil and relatively affluent small town of Lakka. Along the harbour front, it’s easy to while away a day sitting at a taverna with the water from the harbour lapping at your feet – watching groups of yachting holiday makers come and go is a treat in itself. For the first few days, I embarked on the short walk through the main shopping streets to the two town beaches, which provided fantastic snorkelling and swimming conditions. Slightly further afield and around the right hand side of the harbour is Ben’s Bar – a mix of luxurious chilled out summer vibes on the beach where free kayaks and paddleboards are available.
As the heat of each day subsided, it wasn’t a hard decision to know where to head in town. There are many bars and restaurants here in a very small space – it creates a special sense of sociability which I’ve not yet or since experienced in Greece. Expect a generous mix of yachting groups, boaty types, holidaymakers and young locals – the bars and restaurants here are enjoyably lively for a small place.
The second week of my two week stay on Paxos saw me drive south to Loggos – perhaps the most well known town in the area and therefore the place with a greater degree of variety when it comes to accommodation. Loggos as a place was enchanting – there’s no shortage of secluded villas, cottages and apartments – and the charm of places such as the Levrecchio Beach House and Villa Perseus will ensure you’re able to spend as much as time in perfect isolation as you want.
Of course there’s no shortage of activities if lazing around is not your thing. I happened to hire a small boat while I was in Loggos, and discovered a huge number of breathtaking coves, small beaches and snorkelling opportunities up and down the east coast of the Island. For more dramatic scenery, most hire boats are also certified to go to the slightly rougher and more rugged west coast, where caves and huge cliffs can be seen and explored. As an island Paxos really does deliver on the scenery front.
There is an option when you hire a boat to take a slightly extended rental and visit the island of Antipaxos – a few miles south of the larger island. I visited on an organised trip (Gaios Harbour – daily) but getting there via your own means is also definitely possible. The beaches are nothing short of sublime, and the walks around the island give you a taste of what the small islands of Greece must have been like hundreds of years ago. Completely isolated, virtually uninhabited – and with a crystal clear sea and skyline which is beautiful and mesmerising in equal measure. The heat helps, too, and the sea is perfect for swimming around Antipaxos. It really is a must visit if you’re visiting the island of Paxos or the surrounding area.
As with all Greek island holidays, the ferry back to Corfu spelt a return to civilization from what seemed like a real break away. It’s hard to match Paxos for a secluded break on a small island and an opportunity to see what the country has to offer.