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islands i


Laura French gives the lowdown on the Ionian islands you might never have heard of


’m having a Bond moment. We’re bounding across the sea on an adrenaline-blasting rib boat – water splashing, wind pummelling,


heart pumping. Around us, tree-carpeted islands rise and fall in humps, and the ocean spreads out like a swathe of glass, parading all the blues: bright, glaring cobalt and deep, midnight indigo; glowing aqua and thick, milky teal. We’re heading for Meganisi, one of the tiny satellite islands that surround the larger Lefkas, and it’s every bit as striking as I’ve come to expect after a few days exploring this lesser-known, ultra- photogenic region on a fam trip with Sunvil. Soon we’re pulling into a nigh-on empty harbour, tucking into mounds of crumbling feta and fresh sea bass against a backdrop of glittering turquoise, with the taverna – and possibly the entire island – completely to ourselves. Welcome to the Greek Ionian islands, where


remote spots like this are 10 a penny, and where you can easily feel like you’re on your own private


travelweekly.co.uk 11 JULY 2019


DESTINATIONS IONIAN ISNDS | GREECE & CYPRUS


island in the Indian Ocean, rather than on a publicly- accessible beach just a four-hour flight from London. Hopping between its lesser-known treasures


– Paxos, Antipaxos and Lefkas – across five days had me firmly head over heels, with lush green mountains, cut-off beaches, Venetian-style houses and cobblestone villages charming my every sense. Here’s a guide to some of the highlights.


PAXOS The vibe: Measuring about 10 square miles and with a population of only 2,500, Paxos is dainty in size, with quiet fishing villages, bottle-green olive groves and cobblestone harbours set atop verdant hills. It has a manicured, polished feel that lures well-heeled types after a serene escape from the crowds, and it was one of my favourite spots on the trip. Highlights: At its heart is capital Gaios, where laid- back cafes wrap around the island’s main port, and colourful villas in rose and lemon tell of its Italianate heritage (the Venetians conquered the Ionian


² 47


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