By Cliff Blaylock
Ever fancied having your own Robinson Crusoe experience on some idyllic beach in the middle of the ocean, with no sign of civilization for miles and miles? Sitting back, relaxing on a beautiful, sunny beach somewhere or exploring it’s rugged and exotic coastline, is something many of us dream about. When off on holiday though, this dream doesn’t always become a reality. Popular destinations, such as the Greek Islands, see their beaches and coastlines swarmed with visitors, all seeking the same thing as you: Mediterranean paradise.
Nestled in sheltered waters between Lefkada and Kefalonia, Atokos Island strikes a distinct and unmistakable figure against her soft blue backdrop of sky and water. Encircled by the horizon, the island sits alone and, like the hump of a whale or the shell of a turtle, it gently emerges from the enormous ocean around it. The biggest draw for travelers to this island is the beauty of her shores. White cliffs wrap their way around the coastline, peppered with caves and topped by a layer of greenery above. The southern shores of Atokos are also home to a number of white stone beaches that lay before calm and vibrant blue waters. The entire island is awash with color and beauty, and feels as if it has been set apart from the rest of the world. A true unspoiled island paradise.
Sapientza is a gorgeous little island found in the southernmost regions of the Ionian Sea. The first thing you will notice about Sapientza as you float up to her shores is her rugged and untouched nature; save for a lone lighthouse that sits atop Sapientza’s sloped terrain. The island is wild, hosting many species birds, lizards and mammals that live within the vegetation that coats the island’s every corner. Along the coast, you’ll also find scattered beaches and coves, with no sunloungers or sunbathers in sight. Sapientza has a little touch of Greek magic for everyone, whether you are seeking discovery and adventure, or just a quiet place to unwind.
The Strofades, consisting of Stamfani and Arpiia, are an unusual collection of islands to say the least. Let me begin by saying, if you are looking for a desert island beach to spend your days on, this isn’t the place for you. Instead, if you are looking for a unique look at the Greek Islands, this may be your favorite island of the lot. At around 60 miles south of Zante and 50 from the shore of the Greek mainland, these islands are well and truly out of reach for most. For those who can reach them, however, you’ll find one of Greece’s best kept secrets. Rugged, with rough and rocky shores, these islands boast striking, distinctive and beautiful views. On Stamfani you’ll find a monastery, tended to by a lone monk, who welcomes visitors looking to explore the medieval structure. These islands are like a time capsule, they propel you back into a simpler, peaceful era. Sitting on the boulders that litter the shore of Stamfani, staring out into the Greek Mediterranean, you’ll wonder how a place like this could ever exist in a modern world.
Unless you plan on chartering a boat and sailing to all the islands on this list, it can be a bit tricky to make it to any of the above locations, or in-fact any uninhabited island. However, Marathonissi is a bit of any exception. Found off the coast of Zante, one of Greece’s most popular travel destinations, the island is only a short 10 minute sail away from the shore, meaning you can hire out a boat or a kayak and make your own way there. The ease of access means you can get a number of visitors during high-season, so if you really want that desert island feeling, either travel to the island early or visit during the quieter months. The island itself is similar to Atokos, — albeit smaller — with white shores and vibrant green vegetation spread across its steeply sloped landscape. What really sets this place apart from the rest though is her surrounding waters. Crystal clear and azure blue, they are home to a vast array of life and should definitely be explored by any snorkeling enthusiasts making the trip.
Honorable Mention: Antipaxos
With a resident population of 20, Antipaxos is hardly a bustling center of Greece society, although it is technically inhabited. A place of immense beauty, the island itself is covered in lush vegetation and vineyards, tended to by its small pocket of residents. The beaches on Antipaxos are also absolutely divine, with sand so white you’ll need sunglasses just to look at the ground. Surrounding the coast, you’ll find water so clear and blue it’s more like a large piece of stained glass than an actual ocean. Antipaxos is pure Greek paradise through and through, although it can be popular during the summer months as it is easier to reach and better known than the other islands on this list.
See all these islands and more aboard Deep Blue Yachting’s luxury vessel, the Glaros.