The Ionian Islands are a quite different entity to the more familiar Aegean islands. There are in effect only seven of them plus a sprinkling of satellite islands that make for a very enjoyable package. They are different from the point of view of flora – they are greener and less barren than their Aegean cousins and they share a different history to the rest of Greece and the other islands, having absorbed much Venetian and Italian influences over the years. This is particularly apparent in the Old Town of Corfu where you could be forgiven for thinking you might be somewhere in Italy.
Culebra Island is beautiful. I just got back to Canada from Puerto Rico. I was there for a month. I loved Culebra so much I went back twice. On my second trip I spent two nights camping at Playa Flamenco. I paid $20 USD per night for a sweet little camping spot (section E). I saw turtles, amazing, colourful fish and met some wonderful people. The snorkelling was okay in terms of being able to see under water but the reefs are not healthy. There was plenty of coconut to pick to drink the water inside and eat the meat. I found passion fruit, mangoes (not ripe), almonds (not ripe) and another really weird looking fruit I don’t know the name of. While I didn’t enjoy the main island of Puerto Rico as much as I’d hoped, I would go back to Culebra if the opportunity ever arose. I made some friends (Perri and Hector–owners) at a little place in town called, “Aqui Me Quedo” who I will never forget their kindness and hospitality.
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Panama is an underrated destination in Central America, including the San Blas Islands. This is a popular spot for sailing and boat tours, though there are also some resorts in case you’re looking for a more luxurious stay. Generally, the islands are quite rustic and make for a great off-the-grid island getaway. There are tons of beautiful spots for good sailing, diving, and snorkeling.
Which of these great locations would you recommend for a family with teenagers who like to dive and surf? We have been to Hawaii, Costa Rica and Tahiti. We are looking for a safe, yet different, cultural experience with exotic plants, fish and animals. We would prefer to stay in one villa, as opposed to multiple rooms in a hotel. We don’t mind if it is far away from Southern California. I realize this may be painful financially.

I think Naxos would be the best island for you: incredible beaches, wonderful villages, great restaurants, and some very good hotels (though I don’t think I’d go so far as to call them hip – but nice, for sure). The farther south you go from Naxos Town the quieter the beaches get – so keep going to find the balance you prefer. If you want an island with a little more hip but beaches not quite as perfect then try Paros. If you want to err on the quieter and idyllic side then Antiparos or Ikaria.
They are packaged tourist places, though not quite in the extreme league of the north coast of Crete, but certainly they look to the ‘managed’ traveller more than the individual. September is a good time, though the start of September is still pretty close to high season and you will need to make bookings in advance. The waters of the Ionian are a bit chillier than the Aegean, but the islands sport some very spectacular beaches and seaside resorts. They are very popular with Italian travellers in their boats and motorhomes.
Between Nydri and the next main tourism centre is the little port and beach of Mikros Gialos (small bay) that is a great little base for individual travellers for a day or three. The port village of Vasiliki on the southern underbelly of Lefkada is a haven for windsurfers: see this page or this one for more information. The little village is very pretty and is a good base for general holiday-making (as are the two other places). From Vasiliki there is a regular local ferry that runs to Fiskardo on Kefallonia (via Ithaca/Ithaki).
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We would love your help, we are a party of four 50 plus adults from Australia and never have been too the Greek Island. We’re not sure whether we should be going to naxos or paros , we are there for 4 days and not sure whether just to stay on one island and ferry to the other and if you think possible even a day trip to santorini. Our priorities are culture and history, swimming in beautiful beaches, beautiful views, nice towns, and food and drink. We’re not interested in clubbing at all, but more laid-back late night bars definitely appeal. This will be our one big holiday this year as we will be celebrating my 50th birthday while there so want it too be special.
I’m hoping you can help myself and a friend decide where to go. We are hoping to go away around mid August for 10 days-2 weeks. We’re looking for a sunny place and beaches to tan and relax during the day, with some big nightlife and a good strip (the odd daytime activity maybe too). However we are in mid 20s so want to go somewhere with the same age group or older. I’ve been to Zante and although it was super fun at the time (I was about 18) and loved having the strip etc, just don’t want to be the older people there anymore! Money is also fairly tight, so nothing too expensive (was thinking santorini maybe before hearing the price along with it).
Crete, Santorini, and Naxos look quite doable within the 12-day block, but Crete’s beaches are scattered throughout a very LARGE island, Santorini really only has Kamari and Perissá (and some southern coast bays) and Naxos does have nice places to swim. If you choose only to visit those three islands in your relatively short time, you will do well.
Argostoli is the capital on the mid-west flank of the island and is not really a destination itself, that moniker falling to the contiguous beach scene running from Lourdata south eastward to Skala. While development might have caught up here by now, it should still be a pleasant beach scene and focus for a relaxing stay. The Melissani Cave on the east coast is a must attraction and while it can be visited on a day excursion from anywhere on Kefallonia the two villages or Agia Efthymia and Poros are low-key ‘resorts’ pulling in a regular crowd of travellers and may warrant a look-in. The port of Pesada (just west of Lourdata) is the home of the local ferry to Zakynthos (Zante).
Hi Dave, going to Greece in September from the 3rd to 18th. Paros and Milos are pretty much decided but we are not sure about adding a 3rd island. We arrive in Athens early in the day from an overnight flight so will be jetlagged. My husband is staying on for an additional week near Thessaloniki. We have already visited Athens, Aegina, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, and Rhodes. My husband isn’t really a beach person and I love the beach so we do need a mix of things to do. We are pretty fit and enjoy being Active. Great restaurants are a must. Any suggestions?
Can you see all the major sights in Athens in one day? No. But you can see the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, and the top historical sites of the Plaka in one day. If you had an extra half-day then visit the Archaeological Museum in Exarcheia. That still leaves many great sights but you will have seen all of the iconic Athens attractions. Adding Naxos is always a good idea. You might even enjoy it more than Mykonos (but no nightlife like Mykonos).
Remote and unspoiled Crooked Island has little in the way of tourist facilities, but it does boast gorgeous beaches, bat caves and flamingos, and also serves as a turtle nesting spot. One of the four islands that form an atoll hugging the striking shallow waters of the Bight of Acklins, it hasn’t much changed since Columbus sailed down the leeward side through the narrow Crooked Island Passage. There are miles of untouched, white powdery sands, coral gardens, limestone caves and cliffs, remnants of slave and cotton plantations, ancient churches, fortifications and mangrove-lined waterways.
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