Paxos is a relatively well kept secret. A tiny Greek island with the most stunning turquoise waters. We visited when Mr Tot was 9 months old, and I was 2 months pregnant with Junior. I’ve been meaning to write this gem up for ages, but finally got round to it – it’s a slice of paradise.
Paxos doesn’t scream family holiday, it’s certainly not overrun with tourists and children, but this utterly charming island is a great destination for your tribe if you take a few things into consideration.
Paxos is picture postcard perfect. It attracts an older tourist: retired couples and lots of sailing flotillas. Insanely, we stood out as a ‘younger’ couple. Having a baby we stood out a LOT. Everyone was hugely welcoming to Mr Baby, it was nice not to be overwhelmed with other children, but on the other hand if I heard a baby crying chances are it was mine! I’m quite a self conscious mum so having, what felt like, the only child on the island brought quite a lot of attention, albeit positive.
Secondly, most of the towns are set around quaint harbours and many restaurants are on the water’s edge – basically I’m saying there’s a lot of sheer drops into water. I was glad I wasn’t travelling with a toddler as the level of surveillance required would exhaust me. Mr Baby was nine months old and crawling, so this was a grand age to take him as you don’t let babies crawl in the street or around tavernas anyway. I’d happily return now that the kids are aged 5 & 3. Take one look at the sea and the views and you can see why it’s an appealing island and a privilege to visit at any age.
DAY TRIP TO LAKKA – Visiting the town of Lakka is obligatory as the views are breathtaking. We hopped on the bus to get there from Gaios. There’s not much to do except hang out on the beach, eat at the tavernas and take in the scenery, but what a pleasure it is to play and hang out in such a setting. There were pebbly beaches all over Paxos so I did play the endlessly fun game of ‘no, take the pebble out of your mouth. No sweety, out of your mouth. Take it out of your mouth’. Mr Baby tried to ignore me.
DAY TRIP TO ANTI PAXOS – Visiting Anti Paxos is also compulsory. You can pick up little boats in Gaios that whiz you over to the chilled sandy beaches – it was great to find a sandy beach! Again we just played in the waves, ate at a beachside taverna and then whizzed home. Mr Baby loved the boat and everyone, including the skipper, loved him and were so considerate.
SWIM AT PAXOS BEACH HOTEL – Our villa didn’t have a pool but we were made welcome as non-residents at the stylish Paxos Beach Hotel, just a 1.5km walk from Gaios. It has a pebbly beach, sun loungers and a restaurant, as well as the pool, so we happily spent most of the day there. We ordered lunch and drinks so the staff were happy with our custom – we didn’t just use the pool.
In many ways there’s not much to do in Paxos but that’s the appeal. You just be. And you just have to be with each other. Time slows down. We did experience that sought after notion of ‘quality time’ with our beautiful wee lad. I look back now and can barely remember him being this small!
We booked accommodation with Travel a la Carte. They were fabulous and so personable. I’d strongly recommend them – the married couple who met us were extremely helpful. We opted for a self-catering apartment (central, so no pool) – the ‘Eleni’ villa was homely, safe for Mr Baby to crawl around (both indoors and pretty good outdoors as well) and the bathroom tiles were pure funky, if a bit bonkers. The gallery shows what was on offer – and those tiles.
There are steps leading up from the harbour to lots of the properties (including ours) but with our lightweight Maclaren buggy, and my husband doing most of the pushing, I didn’t really have big issues. I probably wouldn’t want to deal with this if travelling alone with kids.
For somewhere so unspoilt and delicious, getting to Paxos is relatively easy – simply fly to Corfu, then hop on the ferry. The ferry terminal, New Port, is about a 15 minute drive from the airport so it’s pretty joined up. The taxis charge a fair rate, under €15 when we visited, but if this is making your brain hurt then most Paxos letting agents will organise your transfer for a fee. Obviously it’s cheaper to sort it out yourself.
The boat to Paxos from Corfu (Despina Passenger Boat) is tiny and full of character. It takes around 95 minutes and you can sit outside taking in the rays and the views, or in the cabin. Kids will love it.Times and info are here. We pre-booked the tickets from the UK to ensure a seat onboard and it was no bother collecting them from a small office close to New Port harbour. [There’s also a hydrofoil in operation, which we didn’t choose as the times didn’t work for us.]
Where to Stay
To get a spacious villa with a pool you’ll probably have to head a little out of town. We opted for a central apartment in the main town of Gaios for a mix of reasons. The island is so dinky that the ‘main town’ is hardly an urban sprawl: it’s picturesque, friendly, and full of lovely little bars, cafés, shops and restaurants.
Once the ferry docked in Gaios we had no more transfer/travelling to do. We didn’t want to pay for a hire car so we knew Gaios would be on the main bus routes to visit the rest of the island BUT hiring a car for a day would be easy in Gaios. We knew we wanted to spend one day visiting the neighbouring island of Anti Paxos which meant setting sail from Gaios. We wanted reasonable sized supermarkets as we were self catering. JOB DONE.
We flew direct from Aberdeen to Corfu and rented a villa for a week with friends, then we carried on to Paxos, spending a further week there, before returning home via Corfu.