Tropical beaches, spectacular cliffs, seas of olive groves and friendly harbours
Whether you arrive by sailing yacht, speedboat or ferry, you’ll be hooked by the charm of these two small, emerald islands: Paxi and Antipaxi, gems in the Ionian Sea. The beaches are unparalleled: white sand or pebbles lapped by glittering water. Behind them stretch groves upon grove of ancient olive trees, dense vineyards and untamed nature spilling down to the water’s edge. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences to look forward to include the sunset from the white cliffs at Eremitis, exploring caves and hikes in search of historic cisterns. Rare treats include wine sweeter than kisses and luxurious villas where you’ll feel like royalty. This holiday will remain etched in your memory forever.
What to do on Paxi and Antipaxi
Antipaxi: The original Eden? South of Paxi, this tiny island, only 3km long, would fit most definitions of paradise. A dense forest of mastic, pine, myrtle and cypress trees covers it, interspersed with grapevines. Well worth investigating if you can bear to leave the beaches.
Splendid Ionian beaches Peacock-blue translucent water, the whitest of white sand. Note these names: Orkos on Paxi, Vrika and Voutoumi on Antipaxi. When you travel to the Ionian, these beaches should be top on your list of things to do.
A castle designed by Leonardo The castle of Agios Nikolaos on the island of the same name, opposite the main port of Gaios, has landmark status. The Venetians began construction on this amazing attraction in 1423 and finished it in 1510. Its secret? It was built from plans prepared by none other than Leonardo da Vinci that are still preserved in the city’s archives. Small world!
The holiday home you’ve always dreamed of The accommodation possibilities on Paxi are all you could hope for. Why not choose one of its attractive stone-built luxury homes with a private pool and a splendid sea view, hidden away amid lush vegetation?
Gaios, the hidden harbour and its secrets The main port and capital of Paxi, Gaios is invisible right up to the last minute as you approach the island. It lies at the end of a “fjord” created by the islet of Agios Nikolaos, which suddenly opens up to reveal a fine harbour.
The town, which has held on to its original Venetian layout and architecture, boasts a number of prized possessions, like the old British governor’s mansion and the church of Agii Apostoli with an impressive cistern above it. Wander into the old shops and cafes, some unchanged since they first opened at the turn of the last century.
The whole island an olive grove Centuries-old trees blanket Paxi. Gnarled and twisted into amazing shapes, they block out the sun, throwing their dense shade over the entire island. For the locals these trees are sacred, their lifeblood, and their history goes way back to when the Venetians ruled the Ionian.
Hidden gems of Paxi and Antipaxi
Masterpieces of necessity: The famous cisterns On an island with little water, rain was so precious that the islanders built monumental cisterns to store it. Today they are considered part of Paxi’ cultural heritage, ingenious works of art.
In vino veritas: The rare wine of Antipaxi Sweet and dark, this wine is made from little known grape varieties like Pheidias and Petrokodrynthos. Production is on a small scale, so you won’t find it in every bar, but it’s worth tasting, so do seek it out.
Travel to the west coast by boat This coast of Paxi is a wonderland of white cliffs and grottoes. By boat you can investigate them all; the caves at Ahai, the vast grotto of Ypapanti, the cliffs at Eremitis. You’ll get your biggest surprise at Ortholithos. As its name implies, it’s an enormous rock in the shape of one of Obelix’s menhirs that rises straight out of the water.