Paxos & Antipaxos: Ionian Tranquility

When thinking of Greece, the most enduring images are that of the Parthenon and the white cubed houses with blue doors, with the Shipwreck beach not far behind. But Greece is so much more, and while we simply adore the Cyclades, the Ionian islands are in a league of their own.

Heavy rain and Italian ownership of the islands until recently have forged a distinct character to the west of the country. The Ionian islands are as close to tropical bliss as is possible (although climate change may have second thoughts about that. Stay tuned) in this part of the world.

Leukada and Zakynthos are the most commercial and most visited. But venture out to Paxoi and its little sister Antipaxoi and you’ll know what true bliss is all about. Two hours away on boat from Corfu or the mainland port of Igoumenitsa in western Greece, these pieces of heaven are what dreams are made of.

Unspoilt and untouched by mass tourism, Paxos is a naturalist’s fantasy. With not much to do by way of activities, the main preoccupation here is what kind of tavern you’ll be visiting, and what beach to go to. Naturally, we ought to point out that tourists do exist and you will be seeing them. But you’ll mostly be seeing them rock up on their yachts. Which pretty much guarantees you the tranquility you’ve been after. Catering to high net worth individuals is the way forward, it would appear. That said, the secret is slowly trickling out and the promenade elbow space is decreasing

The three main towns of Gaia, Lakka and Loggos each offer something different. At Gaios, the main draw is the medieval castle built on a rocky islet just off the isle. Picturesque and serene, this small village is just what you need.

Then there is the village of Lakka on the northern side. Its 108 meter lighthouse is impressive. The food is obviously insanely good and you’ll probably decide to stay there forever.

Loggos is the smallest, but has an active nightlife so be prepared to make some concessions.

The smaller island of Antipaxos has a grand total of 100 full time residents. If that’s not enough to entice you then the prospect of visiting Vriki and Voutoumi beaches ought to do it. Described as the best beaches this side of the pond, they are crystal clear turquoise water beaches with fine white sand and hardly anyone in sight. If you can find a better beach you’re in the Caribbean.

Antipaxos is a secluded piece of land, catering only to those with the will and time to visit. As is usually the case with the real jewels of the Greek islands, if there’s an airport in the island then you’re probably not getting the authentic experience.

A trip to the Ionian islands wil change your vacation and possibly your life for the better.

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