PAXOS FAQ’S

When is the best time to visit Paxos?

April: expect some rain but usually a month ahead of northern Europe so beautiful Spring days – perfect for walking & wild flowers.

May: warmer but could still rain. Perfect month to escape the crowds and meet locals when they are not so busy.

June: temperatures can be high but less humidity so good visibility/views to mainland mountains & other islands.

July & August: Hotter temperatures and warmer seas but more visitors to the island.

September: Sea at its warmest, kids back at school, locals not so stressed.

October: similar to May.

Olive Grove in May

Are beaches sand or pebble?

Most of the beaches on Paxos are pebble (beautiful clear water) but a 15-minute boat ride away are the sandy beaches of AntiPaxos.

Kloni Gouli Beach

What is there to do for teenagers?

Paxos will not appeal to those looking for all night music bars (Castello Night Club, just outside Gaios,  is the exception) – each of the 3 ports has a variety of waterfront café & cocktail bars for all ages. For activities there’s a watersports centre and 2 tennis courts. Families who enjoy boating can hire boats and ribs with 30HP to twin 350HP engines. There are two local companies who organise kayak excursions and walks to hidden island parts. A recently opened gym in Gaios can be used on a day to day basis. There are 2 scuba diving centres and in Gaios, a shop for fishing tackle.

Eating out costs?

In most Greek villages you will have a good choice of tavernas to suit all budgets and tastes. A simple, traditional meal with a half kilo of house wine should cost around 20-30 Euros per person. Select octopus carpaccio rather than stuffed peppers or a wild mushroom risotto rather than fresh sardines and you might spend more. There are now many excellent Greek wines but as most come from small wineries they can be expensive (10 – 20 Euros in the shop & perhaps double that in the taverna) but do try them if you can.

Is it easy to buy fresh fish?

During the busier months of the season most of the locally caught fish is bought by the taverna owners (put on ice & on display in each taverna). You will find fishermen selling their fish from their boats on each village waterfront around 8 – 9am. Otherwise there are two fishmongers in Gaios

Gaios fishmonger with patient audience

Are supermarkets well stocked?

Yes! From Alpen or avocados to zucchini. Good deli counters, big variety of pasta, diverse fruit & veg, drinks galore and even marmite (shame on you). Each village will have a bakery with assorted breads & pastries.

Do supermarkets sell gluten free/dairy free products?

Some supermarkets, in particular the supermarket in Gaios High Street, stock a range of products for food intolerances such as dairy free milk, rye bread, rice cakes and other gluten free snacks and confectioneries.

Do supermarkets deliver?

Yes – most do but the busier the season the harder it is for them so check.

Are pharmacies well stocked?

Yes – and more treatments available over the counter than in British chemists. You will also find well known brands of baby formula and more specific baby supplies that may not be stocked in the supermarket such as creams, dummies etc.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Most shops, supermarkets and tavernas now accept credit/debit cards but you’ll get a bigger smile when paying in cash.

Best parts of the island to stay?

On an island 7.5 miles by 2.5 miles you are never far from a taverna, a beach, a shop, total seclusion or village hubbub. Your holiday view is important – west coast views are over a big sea, aerial displays of seagulls & swifts & birds of prey against a backdrop of white cliffs and valleys of cypress trees; east coast views are across the sea to the mountains of the Greek mainland and a soft Paxos coastline of olive groves , peppered by tall cypress and wild myrtle. Try both coasts!

How child friendly is Paxos?

Children are welcomed everywhere on Paxos. The terrain however is not so friendly towards toddlers. Most of the villas will have split level terraces and gardens and only a very few swimming pools are “gated”. Tavernas have a good choice of child friendly dishes and the Greeks
love their ice cream almost as much as the Italians

Villa Loula
Swimming pool is separated by a gate for extra toddler safety.

Is Paxos good for boat hire?

Paxos is great for boat hire. There are boat hirers in Lakka, Loggos and Gaios. Fibreglass boats & ribs with outboards from 30HP – twin 350HP (Speedboat License required for over 30HP). A fun way to explore the coastline, beach picnics and visit AntiPaxos beaches.

Loggos boat hire

Are the hydrofoil/ferry services reliable?

From time to time the Paxos/Corfu hydrofoil and fast boat service can be affected by mechanical problems or bad weather. If your flight to Corfu is delayed you might miss a hydrofoil/fast boat departure. Our Paxos manager will put a Plan B in place to ensure that you are looked after.

Any other languages spoken by locals?

Most locals will speak/understand English and Italian. French and German by a few. If you hear a language unlike any other, it could well be Albanian – the Albanian population on Paxos is about 20% of the total.

Are there good medical facilities?

There is a well-run clinic in the village of Bogdanatika, not far from Gaios, and two doctors. Gaios has a good dentist.

 

Paxos Ferries Over The Years

The only way of getting from Corfu to Paxos in 1965, my first visit, was aboard a weather-worn, wooden caique called “Aspasia”. A central deckhouse cum cockpit provided hard bench seating for around 40 passengers. The Aspasia’s crossing time varied between 5 and 7 hours depending on the weather.

The journey south from Corfu Town, hugging Corfu’s eastern coastline until Cavos at the island’s most southerly point, is along a channel, sheltered by the coastline of the Greek mainland, and is usually comparatively calm.

In those days, Cavos was a small fishing village with just a few houses above the beach and a simple taverna run by the Roussos family. The Roussos taverna is still there but engulfed by a confloption of holiday accommodation. 

Photo from google images of Corfu Town in the 1970’s

If anyone missed the Aspasia’s departure from Corfu Town’s port there was the opportunity to take a taxi to Cavos and wait for the caique to arrive there. Quite often there would be passengers plus barrels of wine waiting to board at Cavos – and on one occasion, I saw a donkey plus boxes of chickens waiting their turn.

When the Aspasia could be seen from the Cavos jetty, one or two small boats containing people, animals and provisions would be rowed out and helped up on to the waiting caique. A small man-powered winch would hoist up donkeys and barrels.

Photo from Pinterest of a 1963 Hydra Island transfer with a donkey

From Cavos to Paxos (around 9 miles) an afternoon swell could make the 3 – 5 hour journey seem even longer. A sudden winter storm would either cause the caique to turn back or would test the stomachs of even the hardened crew.

Despite the possibility of a rough crossing it was important to bring adequate food and drink to help you through a good part of a day. Many of the crew felt that a pack of cigarettes was ample. 

The Aspasia’s single loo was a small hut on the bow deck. Facing the entrance to the hut was a wobbly bench, where 2 or 3 Paxiots would sit (usually men with worry beads while the women sat inside crossing themselves as each wave hit). I once watched an unsuspecting female passenger (a non-Paxiot like me) enter the hut just as the Aspasia left the sheltered tip of Corfu’s south east coastline and the first waves of the open sea hit the caique’s prow. The hut door swung open to the hut’s side – out of reach of the enthroned lady, with her skirt around her ankles – and in full view of the audience on the bench.

During the summer months the Aspasia would make the return journey about 3 times per week but in the winter, Paxos could be cut off for several weeks.

A large car ferry (called the “Kefalonia”), connecting Patras and Corfu and calling in at Kefalonia, would appear about half a mile offshore from Gaios on a Friday night. Small fishing boats would take Paxiots, wanting a faster journey to Corfu, out to the ferry. A large net was hung over the side of the ship and passengers would climb up and on board.

The arrival of the Kefalonia, with its lights splaying across the calm night sea, was often the highlight of the week.

I cannot remember when the first car appeared on Paxos. There were no car ferries between Corfu and Paxos in the 1960’s so island transport was boat, donkey, foot and the odd scooter.

A Paxiot with his donkey

The Aspasia (and future ferries until the age of the internet) brought newspapers to Paxos to keep islanders abreast of outside news. The islanders thronged at the port when the ferry arrived – a dockers’ union (6 burly fishermen) reserved the right to offload all items (if I was carrying a suitcase, it would be snatched away and a charge made for carrying it all of 20 feet to the quayside). A bag containing the newspapers would be taken to the village’s two “periptero” (kiosks) in the main square.

Local fisherman & Periptero in background

Greece was under the rule of a military junta from 1967 to 1974. All news was fervently censored to the extent that often the pages would only have a few small columns of print, leaving large empty white spaces.  

In the event of bad weather and no ferry from Corfu, Paxos winters could be hard. The electricity supply (powered by diesel at the station in Gaios) would cut off sporadically if the diesel ran out. I remember fridges run on gas but no freezers (the first fridge on Paxos was bought by Peter Bull, the actor who lived on the hillside above Lakka Bay). As nothing could be frozen, the island’s staple winter diet tended to be fresh sardines and squid; soups of bean and lentil; salted cod stored in large wooden barrels and feta stored in brine. Occasionally a caique from Parga on the mainland would bring fresh fruit and vegetables to be sold on the village waterfronts.

Fruit & Veg Caique

In the 1970’s and 1980’s the ferry boat “Kamelia” started taking passengers, donkeys and cars between Paxos and Corfu. There was also the smaller “Aetos” which was just for passengers and provisions. The two ferries would depart at exactly the same time, despite being only half full, and would race each other to reach their destination. Journey time was around 2.5 hours and their rounded boat bottoms usually meant adding extra time to avoid uncomfortable rolling. The Aetos’ bottom was the roundest and would usually limp in second to the Kamelia.

Kamelia

The Kamelia had room on its deck for 3 small cars, wedged in so that any late arriving passengers would have to climb over the cars. Repainting of the ferry, when there was more rust than metal, was done in spurts so that its appearance took on an oddly camouflaged look. The ship’s bar served thick Greek coffee, ouzo and cognac (recognised medicinal remedies for bad weather – together with pungent cigarettes called Stukas) and Tam-Tam (a sickly Greek version of Coca Cola).  

Greece’s version of Coca Cola

The present day hydrofoils, fast boats and speedboats (and who knows, a possible return of the 10-minute seaplane hop) have introduced speedier communications between Paxos and Corfu. For most visitors however, life on Paxos is still led at a comparatively slow pace and long may that continue. 

© 2018 Ionian Villas Limited

Call us on: +44 (0) 1243 820928    ..or email enquiries@ionian-villas.co.uk

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