I recently went with my OH and some friends on a holiday to the Greek island of Paxos. Paxi or Paxoi is the smallest island group within the Ionian Islands. In Greek it is a plural form. The largest islands are Paxos and nearby Antipaxos. Antipaxos is famous for its wine and two of the finest sand beaches in the Ionian Sea.
Whilst I have visited other Greek islands I had never before been to Paxos and it truly is a magical place. It is easy to get to, a direct flight to Corfu, 15 minutes in a taxi to the port and then a Hydrofoil to the island which takes about 1 hour – the latter probably puts off the tourist masses. Paxos is 7 miles by 3 miles and can easily be explored by foot, bike, car or boat. There are only a handful of small hotels so accommodation tends to be apartments or villas, and the pace is unhurried and relaxing. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit – you can swim here until the end of October.
Paxos is incredibly beautiful, with scenery that makes it an artist’s paradise, its clear aquamarine sea and pebble beaches that have to be seen to be believed. The local people are so welcoming you feel at home straight away! This island has such a hold over people that I guarantee, during your stay, you will meet more fellow holidaymakers that have been returning for years than first time visitors.
Gaios is the capital of Paxos and the largest resort on the island. It is still relatively small and quaint with Venetian architecture, a maze of side streets and a pedestrianised square on the seafront.
Loggos is the smallest resort, a picture perfect postcard fishing village with beautiful beaches on the coastline either side of the harbour. The focal point is Taxidis, run by Spiros – not the one in The Durrells but equally as charismatic. The popular bar has tables on the harbour front and a sleeker, more “designer” area out the back, which faces out to sea with lapping water almost touching the tables and chairs. There is also a wonderful restaurant harbour-side called Vassilis Taverna offering Greek traditional dishes cooked to the highest standard. We returned more than once probably because the Manageress, Christina, was delightful, well-travelled with 7 languages but had settled in Loggos as it was “just the perfect place to live”.
We stayed in a very comfortable and spacious Simpson Travel villa between Lakka and Loggos above Monodendri beach. Monodendri is a wide stretch of beach between Loggos and Lakka and has windsurfing and canoes with a beach taverna at either end. We spent many happy hours in Ben’s Bar, owned by Ben Spatha-Hobdell an Anglo-Greek, whose mother, Efi, does all the cooking. With its sunloungers and umbrellas and easy access to Ben’s cocktail making skills there is no reason to move far unless for a dip in the warm sea.
“Everything here is from the land,” says Ben. “Our bar is hidden away, not in your face. It’s a place where people can hang out all day, listening to some nice Brazilian and Greek tracks. Our motto is ‘In-season food, freshly mixed cocktails and sounds’.”
Lakka, the third and final resort is on the north tip surrounding a large harbour where flotillas and gin palaces can be seen mooring. It has two main beaches with a beach taverna. Other beaches are accessible by foot over to the west coast. Here there are two squares, the first you come to, on arriving in Lakka, is where all the locals congregate in the cafe neon for an ouzo or Greek coffee and catch up on the local gossip.
We went to Erimitis Bar & Restaurant to see the sun set which was stunning. You get a lovely welcome from Nikos and his English wife Martha. Nikos’ family have owned the land for some time and it was Nikos who built this restaurant in this magical setting. The cocktails are impressive and the food is exceptional – it would not be out of place in a top London restaurant. We spent our last evening there and the sunset was less flamboyant than the first night but still beautiful.
Finally you must take a boat and visit the island of Antipaxos about 3 kilometres to the south of Paxos. It is virtually uninhabited, 20 people at the last count. It has the most beautiful white sand beaches so take a picnic and put your anchor down and swim in their crystal clear waters.
I can understand why people go back to Paxos year after year. This island is so idyllic and perfect if you want a peaceful rest with delicious food and warm friendly locals. We will definitely all return.