Whether you arrive by sailing yacht, speedboat or ferry, you’ll be hooked by the charm of these two small, emerald isles: Paxi and Antipaxi, gems in the Ionian Sea. The beaches are legendary: white sand or pebbles lapped by glittering water. Behind them stretch grove upon grove of centuries-old olive trees, dense vineyards and untamed nature spilling down to the water’s edge. The sunset from the white cliffs at Eremitis has to be seen to be believed and exploring caves and hikes in search of historic cisterns are must-dos. This tiny island pair will remain etched in your memory forever.
What to do on Paxi and Antipaxi
Antipaxi: The original Eden?
At only 3km in length, teeny Antipaxi (just south of Paxi) 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… beaches that 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’s 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.