Paxos is a small Greek island only five miles long and two miles wide. It lies in the Ionian Sea off the west coast of Greece, just seven miles south of the tip of Corfu. We have sailed here many, many times, and it is my favourite Greek Island.
The first time I came to Paxos was around 2001, when I came on a day trip from Parga on the mainland where I was staying. At that time, I never thought I would ever be lucky enough to come back, and especially not on our own yacht! In his previous life, Tim also started coming here just after that, in a different yacht with different people. We first came here together in 2013/14 and often visit several times in the season. Last year we sailed to the different harbours on Paxos at least seven times!
Things have changed a lot on Paxos even the last five years. There used to be virtually no cars on Paxos except local ones. It was difficult to catch a ferry here, and there were only seven taxis on the island, and you couldn’t hire a car here. Now cars have rather spoilt the island. Hundred of new villas and renovated houses have emerged on different remote parts of the island, and the villa companies provide hire cars for them all. The ferry services have improved so now you see vehicles from all over Europe coming here. The roads are busier, the little towns have cars parked everywhere. It’s such a shame.
Its also much more busier in terms of yachts. The flotilla companies and yacht charters come here all the time, cruising yachtsmen and huge gin palace motor yachts are all looking for spaces to anchor or moor on the quayside.
There are no big hotels, no brash holiday resorts, no burger bars or department stores. In the winter there are a few residents left, who brave the rainy winter and use their log fires. There is a reasonable sized school here, but local numbers are decreasing as the younger generations want to go to the mainland.
The beaches aren’t terrific, they tend to be stony. But the seabed in many places is sandy, making the water a terrific azure blue when the sun is shining. But the landscape of Paxos is wonderful. Quite steep in parts, pine forests and olive orchards cover the countryside. Paxos is known for its walking. The countryside is threaded with ancient tracks through the trees, where old men on donkeys picked their way through the stony hillside down to the harbour below. You can walk from one end of Paxos to the other on these ancient routes, but it is easy to get lost. New houses spring up and block the old paths so you have to find alternative routes. There are few signposts to help you.
Make sure you take some sort of GPS device and a map! Or just a smartphone. Next time I’ll tell you about our most recent walk on Paxos, where we did get lost. But in the meantime, here’s a story about one of our previous walks ……