Category: Top Naxos posts (page 1 of 2)

Greek Island icons & landmarks: Shark Rock on Naxos

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Shark Rock

Shark Rock is an amusing attraction on the western coast of Naxos, between Agia Anna and Maraga. We shot this photo of the grinning Great White during our first trip to Naxos in 2005.

 

This is the first instalment of Greek Islands Icons & Landmarks, a planned series of occasional posts about curious, unusual and extraordinary sights and places we have seen on our travels in the Greek Islands

 

Rock star: My first close encounter with the most famous fish on Naxos occurred in June 2005, during our first visit to the island. It happened while we were walking along the wide smooth rocks and giant boulders that line the seashore on the southern side of Agia Anna Bay.  From this point there is a sweeping, unobstructed view of the Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios beach resort areas, as well as pyramid-shaped Stelida mountain to the north, so I paused to take some photos. When I turned to continue on my way, I nearly stumbled against the snout of the island’s fabled landshark.

I didn’t know what it was initially. I thought it was just a big, long, slender rock rising more than a meter above the ground at a 45-degree angle — nothing unusual for a rocky seashore. Then I noticeda row of small stones had been arranged inside the long, narrow crack that curved around the raised end of the rock. It struck me as odd until I took a few steps back and realized someone had cleverly given the fish-shaped rock a toothy grin so it would resemble a Great White shark.  Another stone had been carefully placed higher up the rock to resemble a right eye.  It looked hilarious, and I couldn’t stop laughing.

 

 

I paid Shark Rock a visit on all of our subsequent trips to Naxos, and it still made me smile and chuckle each time. But last year I was disappointed to see a photo of the landshark that had just been shared on a Naxos fan club page on Facebook. It showed that someone had given Shark Rock a makeover by painting its belly and nose white, and its eye and gills blue. Like other members of the Facebook group, I didn’t think it was an improvement — the shark had looked much better au naturel, and didn’t need a sloppy paintjob to catch attention. The colours detracted from the subtle, creative humour of the simple stone teeth and eye.  Less is more, right?

I’m hoping that rain, wind and waves wear off the paint by the next time I return to Naxos,  so the landshark looks the way I remember. 

There are additional photos of Shark Rock, and a satellite image showing where it’s situated, on page two of this post.

 

Shark Rock on Naxos

Shark Rock strikes a menacing pose with Stelida mountain and the Agios Prokopios beach resort area in the background

 

Shark Rock

This telephoto picture shot from across the bay shows how Shark Rock blends into the rocky shoreline near Agios Nikolaos church, perfectly poised to surprise passersby. (He’s just below the trees on the right side of the hill.)

 

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Tips & talk about Naxos: my interview with Hype Magazine

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Donny on Naxos

Enjoying the scenery on Naxos, one of my favourite Greek Islands

 

I love talking about Greece — that’s one of the main reasons why I write this blog, after all! — so I was delighted when Hype Magazine, the blog published by the U.K.-based Holiday Hypermarket, invited me to participate in a Q & A interview about one of my favourite islands.

I suggested talking about Naxos, since it’s not as well known as blockbuster destinations like Mykonos and Santorini, which receive the lion’s share of attention in the travel media.

Below is interview excerpt in which I describe  what I believe are three of the top places to see on Naxos. 

You can read the complete interview on the Hype Magazine site, where I answer questions and provide some personal “insider tips” about restaurants, cultural events, historic sites, beaches, island scenery, getting around Naxos, and more.

 

 

Hype Magazine: If a holidaymaker only has a few days on the island, what would you say is one thing he or she absolutely shouldn’t miss the chance to see and do in Naxos?

Me: Since it’s so big, Naxos can easily keep visitors entertained for a week or fortnight or even longer. But if you don’t have that much time available, aim to spend at least three full days and nights on Naxos. This is sufficient to comfortably explore what I think are the island’s top three ‘must see/must do’ features.

First is the port town, Chora, better known as Naxos Town. It has a bustling harbour-front promenade lined with dozens of stores, cafes and restaurants. Not to mention an Old Market district with cozy bars, coffee shops, stores and galleries nestled in a warren of narrow lanes. You can also expect an imposing castle which towers above the town. And St George’s beach, a long strand boasting soft brown sand and shallow clean waters – ideal for families with small children.

A short stroll from Chora’s harbour front is the Temple of Apollo monument. Also known as the Portara, this giant marble door frame is all that remains of a temple which was only partially constructed centuries ago. Since it’s on a hilltop overlooking the sea, it’s one of the best places on Naxos to watch a sunset, and to enjoy terrific views of Naxos Town.

The second must-see is one or more of the beautiful sandy beaches that extend, like a long chain, down the island’s western coast. Some, like Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna, have organized sections with rental sunbeds and umbrellas, as well as tavernas and bars close by.  At others, like Plaka, you’ll find some spots with sunbeds and restaurants nearby, but also incredibly long stretches of wide-open space and big dunes topped with tall grasses. All that space, and sand stretching for miles, are what draw many beachgoers to Naxos. St George’s and Mikri Vigla beaches also offer sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing and other watersports.

The third ‘must do’ is to visit one of the charming inland villages, including Chalki, and the picturesque mountain villages of Filoti, Apeiranthos and Koronos – no visit to the island would be complete without spending some time in at least one of them.

 

Plaka beach on Naxos

One of the things I love most about Naxos is being able to walk for miles along spacious, uncrowded beaches like Plaka (above), which extend one after the other down the isle’s western coast.

 

Want to read more about Naxos? Take a look at my popular article, Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos, as well as other top Naxos posts from my blog. 

To see more of the island, check out my Naxos photo collection on Flickr.

Why Naxos is setting tourism records this summer

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Naxos: The Land for a Young God is a professionally-produced video that shows some of the island’s top attractions, including its gorgeous beaches, scenic mountain villages and historic monuments

 

Good press: “Naxos is breaking every record on tourist arrivals this year,” declares the headline of an article published August 12 on naxos.gr, the website for the municipality of Naxos and the Small Cyclades.

In July alone, the news report says, more than 99,000 people arrived at Naxos by ship, easily smashing the previous record of 97,498 set back in 2001. Notably, that total didn’t include passengers who arrived either on Sea Jets ferries, or on Olympic Air flights from Athens, which would have pushed the July tourist numbers far north of 100,000.  

Although I cringed slightly when I read that July saw “27% more trucks, 28% more motorcycles and 48% (!!) more cars” arrive on Naxos than than a year ago, I wasn’t surprised at all by the news that tourism is booming on Naxos. 

Two visits to the island in 2013 prompted me to call it our destination of the year and to write what has continued to be one of the most popular posts on my blog — Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos.  After returning for our sixth time in 2014, I got a strong sense that Naxos was at a tipping point, on the cusp of attracting wide international attention as an all-around great Greek island destination.

Sure enough, during 2015 I noticed that Naxos was being mentioned regularly by newspapers, blogs and travel guides. This year, Naxos has been an even bigger media darling, spotlighted around the world by major newspapers and travel blogs as well as the popular CNN television show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all that good press over the past two years, it’s really no wonder that Naxos is expecting to draw record numbers of tourists this month. In fact, occupancy rates for August are virtually 100%, according to the naxos.gr report, and visitor traffic for the month should easily exceed the record numbers for July.

If you haven’t yet been to Naxos and want to see why it has become such a popular holiday destination, check out the links I have posted below to some of the reports that have appeared in news and travel media  this year alone: 

 

Naxos articles in major newspapers

♦ In its February 16 article The 50 best beaches in the world,  the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper ranked St George’s Beach at Naxos Town at #13 and rated it the “Best in Europe for families.” 

♦ On May 5, CNN published Naxos: Lush Greek island delivers the good life, an article by Athens-based blogger and travel writer Marissa Tejada

♦ On June 4 , the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper published Seeking out the summer in Naxos: Dancing waiters and empty beaches – it can only be glorious, happy Greece by Kyle Staib

♦ On July 6, the U,K.’s Telegraph newspaper published Sally Peck’s article Is Naxos the most family-friendly island in Greece? 

♦ On July 7, Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, profiled Naxos in the article Hellenic Happiness: Explore Greece’s beauty in these often-overlooked regions by Elizabeth Warkentin.

 

Naxos on television:

♦ On May 8, CNN released the Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown episode The Greek Islands, which was filmed on Naxos

 

Naxos profiles on travel and lifestyle blogs:

Why Naxos is the best of the Greek islands, published on Compass & Fork.

Trip in Greece: Les Cyclades — Naxos published January 14 2016 by Days of Camille

Naxos Island, Greece post published April 17 2016 by welltraveledwife.com

The local guide to Naxos, Greece post published June 1 2016 by Bon Traveler

Naxos: The quietly traditional heart of the Cyclades, a guest article by Mike Andrew that I published here on MyGreeceTravelBlog in March.

 

More scenes from Naxos in a 3.5-minute video by Eleni Giorgiafandis 

Enchanting views of Naxos

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Naxos: The island that will enchant you is a mesmerizing 4-minute area film by Naxos Times

 

Here’s an intriguing video of Naxos that’s unlike any I’ve seen before. Released just this week by Naxos Times, the 4-minute film features breathtaking aerial views of Naxos Town as well as Cape Agios Prokopios in the Stelida district of the island’s northwest coast. 

What’s unusual is that the film captures Naxos in the golden light of daybreak and sunset, when the seas are smooth as glass and barely a soul is in sight anywhere in the town. There’s an eerie and almost haunting, mysterious atmosphere to the video, but that’s what makes it even more captivating and fascinating.

Naxos: The quietly traditional heart of the Cyclades islands

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Mike Andrew photo of a lane in Naxos Town

Shops line a narrow lane in the historic Old Market district of Naxos Town. Photo by Mike Andrew.

 

Sitting at the heart of the Aegean, can the unassuming and traditionally minded Naxos hold its own against its cosmopolitan neighbours?

 

Guest post by James Andrew

The shutters bang and clatter against the window. The howling, whistling noises coming from outside are more than a little disconcerting. The meltemi, the strong warming wind that blows constantly through the Aegean at this time of year, is definitely strong today.

Looking out of our villa window at the large, agriculturally rich fields, curious, twisted rock formations and, in the distance, the somewhat foreboding Mount Zas silhouetted against the dusk skyline, this all feels slightly alien. Certainly it’s a world away from the cosmopolitan and touristy island of Santorini from which we caught the ferry earlier in the day. No, this is very different. This is the much less visited and certainly less known island of Naxos.

Positioned at the heart of the Cycladic (or White) Islands, Naxos sits somewhat oddly next to its much-lauded neighbours Santorini, Mykonos and Paros. Whilst the island has gradually been building a fan base amongst Greece afficionados in the know, it still remains defiantly off the main cruise routes. Its main port in Naxos Town sees the arrival of daily ferries but no towering cruise ship behemoths like the ones that anchor in Santorini’s caldera.

The highest peak in the Cyclades, Mount Zas dominates the island. Breaking from the image of barren, volcanic lunar landscapes one most associates with this area of Greece, Naxos is blessed by nature. Green and verdant throughout, it defies convention. So, how would this island that lacks Santorini’s chic, polished veneer and Mykonos’ cool, hipster vibe reveal itself? Can it compete with its upmarket neighbours? We cracked the rattling shutters open and stepped into the wind to find out.

 

Fish Olive Creations Facebook page photo of Mount Zas on Naxos

A view of Mount Zas, Filoti village and Halki village (bottom). Photo by the Fish & Olive Creations art gallery and shop in Halki.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading and view more photos.

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In photos: Two weeks on Naxos

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Filoti village Naxos

Approaching Filoti, one of more than two dozen fascinating mountain villages on Naxos. This image is one of just 600 photos from the Two Weeks on Naxos album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr pageClick here to open the album and view the photo highlights from our Naxos vacation last October.

 

Naxos captures 6th place on TripAdvisor traveller ranking of the top 10 islands in the world

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Tsikalario and Himmaros. two of the scenic mountain villages on Naxos

A view toward Tsikalario and Himmaros, just two of many scenic mountain villages on Naxos island

 

Visitor favourite: Looks like we have plenty of company in recommending Naxos as an outstanding Greek Island holiday destination — it has been rated the Number 6 island in the world in TripAdvisor’s 2014 Traveler’s Choice Awards.

Naxos is the only Greek island to crack the Top 10 list of the world’s best islands, a ranking based on reviews posted by the tens of millions of travellers who participate on TripAdvisor.com each year.

Basking in the glory of the #1 ranking is Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize, which also took first place last year. Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos islands claimed the #2 spot, while Bora Bora in the Society Islands came 3rd.

We have been to Providenciales and, though we enjoyed it, we can’t understand how it ranked higher than Naxos in the Top 10 list. Although it does boast spectacular white sand beaches, superb restaurants and some incredible luxury resorts and rental accommodations, it doesn’t have a fraction of the attractions and activities awaiting visitors to Naxos.

Only seven weeks ago, MyGreeceTravelBlog named Naxos as our Destination of the Year for 2013, based on two fantastic visits to the island in May and October of last year. See our January 16 post, Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos, for dozens of photos and a wealth of information explaining why Naxos is a must-see destination.

And while you’re at it, check out TripAdvisor’s list of the top attractions on Naxos. Also based on traveller reviews, the list includes beaches, museums, monuments, churches, sports facilities and activities.

 

Greek Islands dominate list of Europe’s 10 best

Naxos ranked much higher on TripAdvisor’s list of the Top 10 islands in Europe, clinching 2nd place (behind Lewis & Harris in the Outer Hebrides). Four other Greek islands made the list and confirmed that, with five islands in the world’s best 10, Greece is indisputably the top island destination in Europe.

Milos took 5th place, followed by Kefalonia in 6th and Santorini in 7th. Paros picked up 10th place.

 

A sunset view of Thalassitra Church and the Gulf of Milos

An evening view of Thalassitra Church and the Gulf of Milos, as seen from a pathway leading to the kastro (castle) above Plaka village.  TripAdvisor has rated Milos as the #5 island in Europe.

 

Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos

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The centuries-old Portara monument greets visitors arriving at Naxos by sea

The enormous marble entrance for the never-completed Temple of Apollo greets visitors arriving by sea at Naxos island in the Cyclades.  Also known as the Portara, the monument is an internationally-recognized symbol of Naxos island.

 

Something for everyone: If you’re trying to find a Greek holiday destination that ticks practically every box on even the pickiest traveller’s checklist of “must have’s” and “must see’s,” take a closer look at Naxos.

The largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos is equally big on the number of activities and attractions it offers visitors of all ages and lifestyles. From beautiful beaches to mountain villages; a vibrant port town with an historic castle and Old Market district; monuments, ruins and museums; excellent dining and nightlife; accommodations to suit any budget; walking trails, water sports and mountain biking; stunning scenery and sunsets; plus sightseeing excursions and tours both on and off the island, Naxos has it all.

Whether you’re planning to visit for three days or three weeks, you’ll never run out of things to do — if anything, you’ll probably wind up wishing you had more time to spend on the island.

 

What’s more, Naxos is surprisingly easy on the pocketbook, with reasonable prices for food, accommodations and entertainment.

All those are precisely the reasons why we named Naxos as our Greek Holiday Destination of the Year for 2013 (see our December 31 2013 post for more about that).

Click on the link below to continue reading and to see dozens of photos that illustrate our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos, including:

♦ Ease of getting to the island;

♦ Wide range of accommodation options;

♦ Suitability for travellers of all ages and holiday lifestyles;

♦ Its fascinating main town, built below a medieval castle;

♦ Dozens of beautiful mountain villages and seaside settlements;

♦ Historic archaeological sites, monuments and museums;

♦ An extensive array of places to eat delicious local specialties and Greek cuisine;

♦ Hiking, adventure sports and recreation opportunities galore;

♦ Spectacular scenery and sunsets;

♦ Cultural events, entertainment and nightlife;

♦ Fantastic beaches;

♦ Shopping and local products;

♦ Good local transportation services;

♦ Friendly residents

♦ Tours and boat excursions to other nearby islands

 

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