Ionian Sea Odyssey Adventure 2
PART 2 of 3 - Eight amazing places to visit of the Ionian Sea.
1. THE BLUE GROTTO CAVES OF SIVOTA
After a few blissful hours sailing from Corfu Old Town, we stopped at the blue grotto caves of Sivota, they were so ominous, mysterious & seemed to be guarded by crows & magpies. It just makes you realise how ancient this place is to grasp how time & the sea has worked its magic to create these beautiful islands, cliffs & caves.
2. ANTIPAXOS, TWO BEACHES VRIKI & VOUTOUMI We had a beautiful morning at Antipaxos, Paxos’ tiny sister island. Our wonderful skipper dropped anchor where we were able to explore the famous beaches of Vriki & Voutoumi that are very close to each other. We swam & kayaked on the beautiful smooth, crystal-clear waters - it’s a perfect place for snorkelling too. We loved cooking in the gorgeous compact kitchen of our yacht, with its forever moving stunning view out the window. Voutoumi was a perfect location for our lunch of pasta, a glass of wine & fresh bread. The yacht has a fabulous alfresco dining area on the back deck that allows us to soak in the stunning vista of the blue shimmering water, just beautiful!
3. PAXOS, ERIMITIS CAVES
Unsplashed image by Calin Stain
We continued to the western coast of Paxos to visit the sea caves, some of them are so big that cruise boats & ships can easily go inside (like Ypapandi cave). These caves can only be reached by sea. The most popular cluster of sea caves on Paxos Island is near Erimitis beach, we could see day tripper boats & ships stop here for swimming & visiting the caves.
The sea water around the caves is a very striking vivid blue & this is why they call them "the blue caves". One of the caves had a collapsed roof which formed a hole for the sunshine to peek through, putting on a spectacular light show as the sun bounced off the cave walls & the water. There’s also a fascinating massive vertical rock which sticks out of the sea near the caves. We really appreciated as we passed crowded day tripper boats full of people how special this Moorings private charter is. We really can see how our skipper knows all the best places & how to handle navigating when we visited some of the crowded areas.
4. ERIMITIS BEACH Erimitis Beach is breath-taking, located amongst ivory stone towering cliffs. This beach is accessible by boat or foot only. We continued to marvel at how stunning, clear & pristine this Ionian blue sea is. Our skipper found a spectacular place to drop anchor for us to swim & have on-board lunch! It was so enjoyable to swim from the yacht to the beach, it was like swimming in a giant aquamarine. Nature, time & the sea have created this wonderful pristine beach, the wildflowers grow down the cliff to the beach. Erimitis beach has white pebbles & blue sparkling water. After we prepared lunch, I had to swim out to summon my beach loving travelling companions “Lunch is ready!” – across a giant pool of aquamarine, it was a truly surreal experience!
We had a beautiful alfresco lunch of Caprese Salad, fresh bread & delicatessen treats. It was amazing to sit on the deck of the yacht looking out to sea. One of the yellow elusive butterflies flitted over the shimmering sapphire blue water, reminding me of the Greek mythology legend of Io flying over her Ionian Sea. For if ever I could imagine a place where a Greek god would take a holiday from the heavens & meet a beautiful sea nymph it would be here.
Unsplashed image by Calin Stain
Sailing into Parga Bay we could see the wide beach framing the picturesque town of Parga. When you arrive there’s a path that takes you on a lovely walk to the small town with shops, boutiques & taverners. As you walk through the town you can go to the hilltop that rewards with the most spectacular view from the Venetian fortress perched on the top. The view is of the large bay surrounded by beaches, the historic Venetian painted houses of the township & small rocky islands all in this magical Ionian Sea.
Parga & the surrounding area is known for its stunning sandy beaches, where you can relax. It’s also a wonderful place to kayak, swim & snorkel. There are many tavernas, cafés & restaurants - some on the beach & some in the town. Our skipper found a beautiful anchorage in Parga Bay where we stayed for the night.
6. GAIOS, PAXOS
The next morning we set sail to the southern end of Paxos, we reached the little port town of Gaios which is situated on the Southern end of the East side of the island. Gaios is the capital of Paxos, it has an eclectic mix of cultural influences, from the early Christian, Byzantine, Venetian & British, giving the town a very unique look & feel. The people of Gaios make this seaside town a very enjoyable place to be, they are so hospitable, warm & friendly. We spent a wonderful afternoon walking around the streets, there was a great many local tavernas (we stopped to look at the menus for our evening meal), the shops were full of shiny keepsake trinkets, artisan crafts & many boutiques. We found the shopping great!
Being a cat-lover, I was delighted to see so many cats in one of the streets, as I walked closer, I discovered the reason! They were all looking up at the window of a Fish Shop - it was so comical, like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon of a Greek street full of cats longingly looking at the bounty of fish in the kiosk window! I asked the fish monger if I could buy some fish to feed the cats – the fish shop owner laughed at me & gave me some fish, he said “be careful just drop the fish, don’t give it to them, as they’re vicious & will cut you!” he was right the cats were so quick to grab & scoff the little fresh fish!
That evening we found our favourite looking rustic taverna on a cobbled stone street & had such a feast of local cuisine, everyone ordered their choice - our table was full of delicious food, including moussaka, fish, roasted vegetables & Greek wine of course!
7. BAY OF LAKKA, PAXOS
In the morning we set sail & now we are in the heart of the northern Ionian Sea. Our skipper found a great sheltered bay for our morning of swimming & kayaking. We then sailed a short distance & found a perfect location for our on-board lunch.
In the afternoon we sailed up the east coast to Lakka the northern port of Paxos - it’s a gorgeous, sheltered horse-shoe shaped bay, surrounded by rolling hills covered in olive & cypress trees, giving Lakka the quintessential Greek seaside village ambiance & seemed to have a pretty cat around every corner! It’s a small village that in every direction you walked seemed to take you to a meddow, or olive grove or up a winding road out of town in the most delightful way. The town quay & marinas had every sort of boat moored up, from luxury yachts, simple sailing vessels & colourful fishing boats - all lined up creating the most beautiful reflections in the water.
The bay of Lakka is protected from the open sea making it an excellent place for swimming, water sports & mooring boats including overnight – although we found our overnight mooring place on the town quay. The afternoon we spent time exploring & shopping – then we settled into the Akis Bar for an early evening Prosecco & snacks! Then later in the evening we had a beautiful meal at Taverna Pounentes right in the heart of this charming seaside village. 8. PAXOS, BLUE CAVES
The next day we sailed off to explore the Blue Caves of Paxos – these sea caves with their vivid blue water, make it look like you are sailing on giant aquatic jewels. Legend has it that Paxos was formed when Poseidon severed the tip of Corfu with one mighty blow of his trident & dragged it south to create an idyllic retreat for his love, Amphitrite!
You can swim or take your dingy though the caves, we did both! We were so inspired by the Bottle Blue Bombay Sapphire looking water as the sunlight illuminated the caves - we decided to make our Gin & Tonic happy hour right on the brilliant sapphire water of Poseidon’s Blue Caves of Paxos!