Cape Agios Prokopios view toward a recently-built residential neighbourhood on the west side of Stelida mountain. We walked a coastal trail below the houses and followed a dirt road back to Agios Prokopios beach.
[Editor's note: This is the fifth instalment in an ongoing series of reports about our 2014 spring vacation in the Cyclades and Athens. Click here to see Part 1, click here to access Part 2, click here for Part 3, and click this link for Part 4. You can view full-size versions of all the photos posted below in the Naxos May 23 2014 album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.]
Friday May 23
Final full day: Time passes far too quickly when we’re on vacation! We were completely relaxed and feeling right at home on Naxos, but already it was our last full day on the island. After breakfast tomorrow we would have to pack, check out of the hotel and get to the port for our ferry to Syros. Where did the time go?
I had been certain we would see and do a lot more on Naxos than we actually did. Before coming to the island, we had tentatively planned to visit at least one village — Koronos and Apollonas were the likely candidates — and to mountain bike as far down the south coast as we could possibly go. Windy conditions forced us to scale back our biking plans, while this morning we simply didn’t feel like hurrying into Naxos Town to catch a bus and spend more than an hour riding it to one of the villages. I felt guilty that we didn’t get to scratch more Naxos destinations off our must-see list, but a whirlwind sightseeing tour could wait for a future trip — today we found it more important to unwind and take it easy.
That’s what passengers appeared to be doing on two different sailboats that arrived in Agios Prokopios Bay while we were having breakfast. One was a large sailing yacht, probably a private charter, flying flags for Turkey and Greece. The other was a private sailboat flying a German flag. Both dropped anchor in the bay a hundred meters or so offshore, where their occupants would enjoy impressive panoramic views of Agios Prokiopios beach, Stelida mountain, and the rocky southern shores of Cape Agios Prokopios. As I watched them float quietly on the sparkling sea, I started daydreaming about what it would be like to cruise the Greek Islands on a sailboat. I hope some day I’ll get the opportunity to find out …
A Turkish-flagged sailing yacht approaches the west coast of Naxos …
… and drops anchor in Agios Prokopios Bay, a short distance from shore …
… joined soon afterwards by another sailboat
A walk along the Cape and west coast of Stelida
Although we felt lazy, we didn’t want to spend a day sitting around or laying in the sun — we needed to move around, but at a relaxed pace. So after breakfast we took a long, slow walk along Cape Agios Prokopios and the west side of Stelida mountain, eventually making our way back to the hotel. Here’s some of the sights we saw during our hike:
This would be our final full day at Lianos Village Hotel … we would be moving on to Syros the next day
A private villa just a few steps down the road from our hotel. We have walked past it many times during our Naxos holidays, but have never seen anyone there. It might be a holiday house for someone from Athens or elsewhere in Europe.
This building, right next door to the villa, appears to contain several separate apartments. We’ve never seen anyone here, either — the windows have always been shuttered. It’s just a 5-minute walk from here to Agios Prokopios beach.
The Naxos Imperial Resort & Spa occupies a very large property on the opposite side of the road from the villa and the apartment building. It has a lovely figure 8-shaped swimming pool and separate soaking pool, but we have never seen anyone in the water or on the large terrace. We’ve been told the resort is packed in summer months with vacationing families and tour groups from Italy.
The main entrance to the Naxos Imperial Resort & Spa. The hotel usually looks vacant when we visit Naxos (the resort opens in late May and closes at the end of September), but when we passed it today dozens of young Italians filed out the front door and boarded tour buses parked on the road outside the hotel. First time we have seen any guests there!
The road from Stelida passes Molos Taverna (center) before reaching a parking area next to the dunes at Agios Prokopios beach
Two huge villas occupy the rocky hill opposite Molos Taverna. The one on the right has been under construction since at least 2009. Whoever is building it has been making slow but steady progress …
… as you can see from this photo which I shot during our holiday in October 2013, at which time the exterior walls of the new villa had yet to be painted.
The Turkish-flagged sailing yacht comes into view as we approached the shrub-covered sand dunes behind Agios Prokopios beach
While I was admiring the yacht, one of the passengers began hanging laundry out to dry on the port side of the boat
Agios Prokopios beach has views toward Orkos (rear left) and Cape Mikri Vigla (rear right) on the far side of the bay
Paros island comes into view as we walk up a dirt road leading from the beach to Cape Agios Prokopios
A view of Paros, a sailboat and the rocky shores of Cape Agios Prokopios
Looking across the southern side of Cape Agios Prokopios toward Paros
There’s a wide variety of terrain on Cape Agios Prokopios. Here, footpaths and dirt roads criss-cross wide rolling hills strewn with huge boulders.
Spring flowers blanket some of the hills on the cape
A footpath traverses the wildflower-covered slope
Some of the cape’s terrain is quite steep and rocky
The south side of the cape is quite rugged with cliffs rising above the bay. We tried walking close to the shore, to see if we could reach a coastal area where we could see people fishing, but turned back to follow an easier route when we got tired of climbing over jagged boulders — our sneakers weren’t suitable footwear for the challenging terrain.
View toward the two sailboats anchored in Agios Prokopios bay
Another view of the shoreline along the south side of Cape Agios Prokopios
A rusting section of hull is all that remains of a shipwreck on the cape’s south coast. I have read that it’s the remains of a Dutch merchant vessel that foundered on the rocks in the 1980s.
Sailboats in Agios Prokopios Bay near the shipwreck on the cape
A man fishes from rocks near the southwestern tip of Cape Agios Prokopios
Another view of the fisherman on the point
View toward Paros from the coast near the northwest tip of the cape
View from the cape toward houses on the lower slopes of Stelida mountain, above the western coast of Naxos. Many of the homes were built between 2008 and 2010, and more new residences are under construction.
Approaching a secluded beach on the north side of the cape
A slope near the beach was covered with waist-tall mounds of wild herbs
There were thousands of Queen Anne’s Lace (daucus carota) growing on the low hills behind the beach
View toward Paros from the hill behind the little beach
A view of the beach from a rocky point to the north. I don’t know the name of this particular beach; it isn’t marked on any of my maps of Naxos
Here’s a short video of the beach. Click on the arrow to view it.
Approaching a different beach on the west coast. This particular strand is situated directly behind the Naxos Imperial Resort & Spa
This is a short video of the beach and bay behind the hotel
The hotel has rows of beach chairs and umbrellas under some trees next to the beach. The beach has suffered considerable erosion since I first saw it in May 2009 while we were riding a ferry from Amorgos to Naxos (see photo below).
I shot this pic of the Naxos Imperial Resort and its private beach five years ago. The hotel had been built during the winter of 2008-2009, and there were no rocky sections or eroded areas on the beach during its first season.
Another view, from the passing ferry, of lounge chairs and umbrellas on the beach at the then-brand-new Naxos Imperial Resort & Spa in May 2009.
Although the hotel has had to pull its lounges and umbrellas several meters farther back from the sea because of the erosion, there is still a respectable section of sandy beachfront, and the bay is quite scenic
Shade trees next to the hotel beach. Paros is visible across the channel.
Herbs and wildflowers along the coastal trail
The footpath follows beside a series of long fences that mark property lines of some of the private villas on the southern slope of Stelida mountain
Here’s a short video of another sandy cove we passed while hiking along the west coast in the Stelida area. Click on the arrow to start the clip.
Lounge chairs on the sand in a small cove below the residential development. I saw people from one of the houses walk down the hill to lay on the sunbeds.
Large birds gather on a rocky outcropping on the coast below the houses
The rugged coastline at the northwest tip of Naxos. We didn’t walk beyond this point; instead, we walked through part of the hillside residential area on our way back to Agios Prokopios beach
These guard dogs barked furiously at us from one of the nearby estates as we made our way up the hillside to a road in the residential development. We were glad they were securely chained — judging by the look of their emaciated bodies, they probably were hungry enough to eat us!
We avoided the property with the guard dogs and walked through a field of prickly scrub brush and herb bushes to reach the nearest road. It took us downhill between tall stone walls that separated some of the villa estates.
One of the villas on the west side of Stelida mountain
Another villa on the slope above the west coast of Naxos. The properties here all have amazing views toward Paros.
Approaching Lianos Village Hotel (left) following our walk along the cape and the west coast of Naxos. Construction work on the road is finished and the section that had been dug up when we arrived is now paved with fresh asphalt.
A private villa across the road from our hotel
A final visit to Agios Prokopios beach
The Lianos Village swimming pool looked inviting when we returned to the hotel; only four people were sunbathing on the terrace at the time. We would have liked to take a swim, but there was no way I could get in the water — it felt too cold. We decided to spend some time down at Agios Prokopios beach instead. So we headed back down the hill — repeating the first part of our morning walk — and stopped at Molos Taverna for a snack and drink. After our beach time, we took the long way back to the hotel, walking to the resort area at Agios Prokopios and following the roads up to Stelida and back to Lianos Village.
The hotel pool looked inviting, but the water was too chilly for us to swim
Another view of the Lianos Village pool
View toward Agios Prokopios beach from the Lianos Village hotel pool deck. The building in the foreground is a studio apartment complex. Between the building and the dunes is one of three large salt ponds known variously as The Three Lakes and The Red Lakes (because the water often has a reddish hue). The ponds apparently dry up during the hot summer months.
A balcony on a house near Lianos Village Hotel
Bougainvillea outside another house near our hotel
We stopped at Molos Taverna for a snack. The restaurant has a large open-air terrace set back a couple of hundred meters from Agios Prokopios beach.
Looking across the Molos Taverna parking lot toward the dunes behind Agios Prokopios beach. You can purchase bottled water, soft drinks and beer from the taverna to take to the beach — it’s the closest place to get food and beverages.
View of Molos Taverna from the dunes behind the beach
View from the dunes of sunbeds and a lifeguard post on Agios Prokopios beach
One of the three Red Lakes (salt ponds) near the dunes at Agios Prokopios. Naxos residents have been opposing Greek government proposals to sell these and other natural wetlands on Naxos, as well as some beaches and seashores, so private companies can redevelop the properties into luxury resorts and sports facilities. Large-scale development here would ruin Agios Prokopios — one of my favourite beaches in Greece — so I hope the government comes to its senses and leaves the wetlands and seashores alone. Residents have launched a Naxos SOS — Save our Seashores campaign to fight any sell-off of the public lands.
One of the “Red Lake” salt ponds at Agios Prokopios. Rather than sell the land for redevelopment into unsightly modern resorts, I’d rather see the government take measures to make the walking areas around the ponds more attractive.
The sail yacht has the entire bay to itself
Looking to the east across Agios Prokopios beach
Agios Prokopios beach view of one of the salt lakes below Stelida mountain
Looking toward the northwest end of Agios Prokopios beach and the cape (far left) where we hiked during the morning
Here’s a short video of Agios Prokopios beach
Lounge chairs and umbrellas near the southern end of Agios Prokopios beach
Looking northwest across the wide, golden sands of Agios Prokopios beach
View toward Paros from the southern end of Agios Prokopios beach
Hotel Three Lakes is one of numerous properties with hotel and studio apartment accommodations around the eastern end of the salt ponds at Agios Prokopios
Alykes Studios, on the east side of the salt ponds, is just a short walk from the resort’s shopping and restaurant strip
The swimming pools at the Perla Hotel near Agios Prokopios beach. The hotel has direct views of the beach and Paros island across the field between the Alykes Studios, left, and Hotel Three Lakes, right.
Street view of the Perla Hotel front entrance. We saw a studio apartment here; it was bright and spacious and very reasonably priced. We will consider the Perla for a future holiday if we ever decide to stay in a studio rather than a hotel.
Street view of the Naxos Island Hotel on the main commercial strip at Agios Prokopios. A sign said the boutique hotel and its highly-rated The Taverna restaurant would be opening for the season the next day. We still haven’t had a chance to sample The Taverna’s food — the restaurant has not been open the last three times we have been to Naxos.
While we were walking along the main road from Agios Prokopios to Stelida, my curiosity was piqued by an overgrown path leading off the left side of the highway. I walked down the road to discover this small hotel or apartment complex which appears to have been abandoned for years.
Mother Nature is slowly reclaiming the vacant site, but the blue paint on the building’s doors and window shutters has held up surprisingly well
View from the main road of Tzivaeri Taverna and Bungalows, which are only a 5-minute walk from the Agios Prokopios commercial area. The taverna features live rembetiko, a type of Greek folk music. We could hear the music when we walked past the restaurant two nights earlier.
Near the halfway point on our walk from Agios Prokopios to Lianos Village Hotel. At right is one of several studio apartment complexes we pass along the way.
Potted plants on a staircase at a house we walked past in Stelida
Bougainvillea vines with scarlet leaves reach to the roof of Hotel Proteas
A walk into town for dinner
It wasn’t long before we were on the move again. After freshening up and then relaxing on our hotel room terrace, we hit the road for another walk into Naxos Town. We planned to have dinner at Nostimon Hellas and then stroll around the Old Market and Castle areas for one last time.
As we approached the junction of the roads to Stelida and Agios Prokopios, near the southern end of St George’s Bay, we caught up with two Australian women who were walking along the highway. They were fashionably dressed for an evening out, and wearing high heeled shoes, so I wondered what they were doing so far from a hotel. One asked if we knew how long it would take to walk to the waterfront of Naxos Town, where they were planning to go for dinner. She said they had thought it would be only a short walk from where they were staying, but they’d been walking more than 20 minutes already and still couldn’t see any sign of the town.
I said the walk would take about 30 to 40 minutes for us, but considerably longer for them — if they could even make it all the way into town in their fancy footwear. I suggested they flag down a taxi or take the bus, whichever came along first. They walked with us for about 10 minutes, but declined to take a taxi that I waved down. It was out of sight by the time they realized they wouldn’t be able to walk much farther. Fortunately for their feet, the bus came by moments later. We waved for the driver to stop, and the two ladies hurried aboard after thanking us for the company and conversation during part of their trek toward town. We continued on our way — it was a beautiful evening and we were enjoying the walk.
We got our first glimpse of St George’s Bay and Naxos Town (center rear) from this road in Stelida, about an 8-minute walk from our hotel
This road leads downhill from Stelida to the south side of St George’s Bay, where it merges onto the main road between Naxos Town and Agios Prokopios. It will take us about 10 minutes to walk to the junction of the two highways.
A blue sign (center) indicates where the Stelida road meets the highway from Naxos Town to Agios Prokopios. You can barely see them in this small picture, but the two women we met have nearly reached the junction — one is standing in front of the sign, while her friend is across the road, taking a photo.
The Naxos countryside basks in the golden glow of the low evening sun. From this point, we can see houses on the mountains behind Naxos Town. We’ll reach the outskirts of Town in about 15 to 20 minutes.
Looking toward Stelida, where we had started our walk over half an hour earlier
Trees along the highway near the outskirts of Naxos Town. We can see St George’s Bay and will soon approach the beach.
Almost there! An hour after we left our hotel, we’re about to walk down this dirt road, which will lead us to hotels near the southern end of St George’s beach.
Sunbeds cast shadows on St George’s beach in the glare of the evening sun
View toward Naxos Town from the southern end of the organized section of St George’s beach
Bougainvillea and azaleas on a Naxos Town street close to St George’s beach
Looking down the same street, from the opposite direction
We see our shadows as we walk down a quiet street in Naxos Town. The streets near the beach are lined with rental studio apartments and small hotels.
Street view of Nostimon Hellas restaurant at the corner of Tripodon and Ioannou Paparigopoulou Streets in Naxos Town, where we had a fabulous meal. This building housed the popular Yiayiaka’s Kitchen until the owners of that restaurant retired last fall. (I wrote about Yiayiaka’s in my post Our best food & drink experiences of 2013.) I’ll tell you more about the wonderful food at Nostimon Hellas in an upcoming post about our meals on Naxos in 2014.
A night-time stroll through the Old Market and Castle
After dinner we took a long walk in Naxos Town, strolling through the Old Market area and the Castle. After a walk along the waterfront, we headed to Protodikeiou Square, where we hailed a taxi for a ride back to our hotel. We had walked enough for one day, and weren’t going to hike back to the hotel in the dark! We felt sad that we would be leaving Naxos in only 12 hours, but we had thoroughly enjoyed our sixth visit to the island. We will be back!
This street leads from Protodikeiou Square to the waterfront paralia, which is lined with dozens of shops, cafés, bars and restaurants
A pedestrian street in Naxos Town
Sarris Taverna is popular for its seafood and Greek cuisine
The sign outside Flamingo Restaurant advertises a bargain-priced dinner special — a salad, tzatziki, moussaka and a dessert crêpe for just €10.
The elegant arched entrance gate to a church in Naxos Town
Taverna To Kastro tables in Braduna Square
The Naxos Castle entrance off Braduna Square
An art and souvenir shop inside the castle entrance
A street inside the Castle
Steps in a lane in the castle
A tall stone wall along a lane in the castle
Passing through a quiet square in the Naxos Castle
A window in the castle’s outer wall
The imposing stone wall of the castle exterior
A spooky-looking corridor in the castle
A cobblestone lane leading to the Old Market area of Naxos Town
Tables in Old Market Street outside the cozy Naxos Cafe
A passageway in the Old Market area
Along the waterfront paralia in Naxos Town