|St George Beach, Naxos|
I can't stop looking at my photos of Santorini. It's a place so beautiful, it makes even my photos look like postcards. There's a whole big, effusive blog post about it coming your way with lots of glamourama places to stay in it. But all the luxury and style of Santorini can be hard to take (all that blowdrying for TPG...), so TPG and I decided to ferry it over to Naxos for a few days where we slipped into life as scraggly beach bums fairly easily.
|Stuffed pepper and tomato at Faros Naxos taverna|
People go to Naxos for some of the best beaches in Greece - white, silky sand and clear turquoise water. We lazed under the shade of the rocky cliffs of "Hawaii" beach, taking breaks to plunge in the waves of the warm, clear water. A 100m stroll away under an old stone church is the quiet bay beach of St George, where you can watch the odd boat sail by while eating peaches in the sun. These were our favourite of the west coast beaches.
|Hawaii - Naxoss version|
It turns out Naxos is a bit of a windsurfing mecca so leave the toupee at home - I lost both my hat and my shorts to the cyprus forest bordering on the windy Alyko beach where we stayed. We're talking serious, exfoliating gales, the likes of which have only been seen before in the wind tunnel between the Monash University car park and the Menzies building (don't even get me started on the bad hair days).
|Octopus - they're quite heavy handed with the oregano in Naxos|
To refresh from the hardship of long days at the beach, you can drink a local herby, aniseedy spirit called Raki, with lots of ice (or have it warmed up and mixed with honey). It's distilled from the pomace of grapes and is a perfect accompaniment to your dolmades and creamy tsatsiki at night.
|The pool at at Faros, Naxos|
We stayed at Faros Naxos, which is a family run set of apartments with a pool and taverna, opposite Alyko beach. It's fairly basic (no flat screen tvs or rainfall shower heads here), but has everything you need for a beach holiday. Papa will pick you up and drop you off at the port, there are a couple of (wobbly) mountain bikes for local exploring, there's wifi and a laptop available at the poolside bar, and Mama cooks up a storm each night in the taverna out the front. Nikoloas runs the show with a smile and another brother works at the bar.
|Spend some time eating souvlaki by the port in Naxos town (or "Hora")|
We ate there every day apart from some gyros in Naxos town (lazy, moi?) - Greek salads with a local mild, ricotta-like cheese in place of the usual feta, fried calamari, stuffed capsicums and tomatoes, juicy, cheesy moussaka cooked in clay pot, moist fresh fish grilled and served simply with a splash of lemon, olive oil and salt, cumin spiced meatballs, lamb shank cooked in lemon sauce, goat cooked in paper, and plenty of the abundant Naxos potatoes (something the island is known for). The meals are real Greek home cooking (certainly not at the gourmet end of the spectrum) and cheap (say around 30 euros for 2 including a carafe of wine). Everyone at Faros Naxos is super friendly and willing to help with whatever you need. And there's a pool table for late night, ouzo fuelled challenges. (I won! the first round, you don't need to know about the others...)
|Wandering through the alleys of Naxos town|
This is a basic, family friendly place, and a drive away from the nearest town or cafes. A taxi to bustling Naxos town will cost you about €25 for a 25 minute drive.
I highly recommend Naxos to anyone who thinks there are no good beaches in the Greek islands.
|I love my gyros (although this one was no world beater)|
You can get to Naxos by ferry from Santorini, which takes 2 hours and costs about €30 on Blue Star ferries. You can also fly direct from Athens. Our last minute booking at Faros Naxos meant we had a 2 bedroom apartment with private balcony for €110 per night (cheaper in low season, and smaller digs are available).