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The Other Greek Isles

PAXOS
Just eight miles long and 21/2 wide, rugged Paxos has three harbors, 2,500 residents, and as many as 250,000 olive trees, each one paid for by the Venetians during their rule here from the 14th to the 18th century.

Today, wealthy Italians still make up a significant percentage of visitors to Paxos, along with Brits and Greeks who can afford it; because the island has a poor water supply, food must be imported, resulting in prices that are high for the region. My cousin and her family came along with me to escape Corfu's hustle—a concept I found amusing, especially given the relatively high-energy scene at the Paxos Club Apartments Hotel, where my heart started racing at the sight of a shockingly well-muscled man across the pool. By the time the manager confirmed that the guest was, in fact, Jude Law, he and his friends had piled into jeeps and zoomed off.

My cousin and I drove around the island with a friend whose wife is a Paxos native. He pointed out sea caves that hid submarines during World War II and noted that to enjoy Paxos "you have to love nature—climbing, hiking. Here you don't just stroll from pool to beach." At the To Kentro Café in the village of Magazia, the owner served us caraway liqueur and gave me a calendar showing 12 of the island's 70 churches. "Churches were built on the sites of old temples, in places with the most natural beauty," he explained. "This makes them more spiritually uplifting." It was on the grounds of the two-domed Ipapanti church that I discovered the island's best feature: erimia, the elusive quality Greeks cite while taking in an amazing view, which inadequately translates as "peacefulness."

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