The Island of Naxos, Greece
Naxos is a beachy island situated in between Santorini and Mykonos. If you plan to visit multiple islands while you're in Greece (which you should!) then traveling between them by ferry is super easy. The ferry only took an hour and a half from Santorini and after realizing we were equally as close to Mykonos upon our arrival to Naxos, we were tempted to take a day trip to the party island to meet up with both the new friends we made while in Santorini and friends from back home that were also there. However, we resisted and decided to take a day exploring the island of Naxos by car.
The difference between Santorini and Naxos was felt as soon as our ferry docked: less commercialized and wide, long beaches. It was tough to find a taxi and many of the locals in town spoke little English. Hence, it took us two tries to get to our hotel, Naxian on the Beach; the first time getting dropped off near a tiny B&B, and though cute, could not have been further from where our hotel was!
Finally making it to our boutique hotel destination, we were greeted by the hotel's operations manager, Constantinos. From his beard to his clothes, T and I both agreed he just embodied cool. Naxian was oozing with style, too. Very Palm Springs meets Montauk. Emily from Valerie Wilson Travel also coordinated our accommodations for this portion of our trip and she completely nailed it.
Our intention for this portion of the trip was to lounge at the beach all day and leave one full day for exploration. Naxian made renting a car very easy and had it delivered to the hotel for us within the hour. Thankfully everyone drives on the right side in Greece so there was no learning curve there. Constantinos told us that in order to get the most amazing Mediterranean eats, we had to trek up the mountain, following a single road to Matina Taverna. Arguably, this is where we might have had a bit of a learning curve.
The single road was a winding, narrow road, that at times was only dirt and had no guard rails. I don't think I said a word the entire time we made our way up. I had never been more scared!
After what seemed like hours later and with a worked up appetite, we found Matina Taverna and it was exactly as described. Of course we ordered traditional Greek salad, which was so fresh and farm to table but even the wine was homemade, appearing more like apple juice or whiskey than a white wine. After our indulgent lunch, we unfortunately had to hop back in the car to make our way back down. This trip is not for the faint-hearted. I can look back now and laugh a little about our experience in the countryside of Naxos. Once we were back safe at Naxian, we retold the story to our bartender, Jacob. He just laughed and told us it usually takes him 45 minutes max in the dark to get to the village of Koronos, where the taverna is!
After getting more excitement out of our road trip than we had planned, it was so nice to spend the rest of our time in Naxos either on the beach or at the neighboring restaurants that were walkable from Naxian.
We found ourselves eating breakfast or lunch at Naxian's outdoor patio space multiple times and having dinner twice at the nearby restaurant, Petrino. As someone who is not a huge burger fan, I actually ordered their burger with sea salt both nights. Literally everything was just so delicious, whether it was fish or meat in Greece.
Though we stayed in the community near Plaka Beach, it is definitely worth taking a walk through town before you hop on a plan to head home. One of the things I was looking forward to most in planning our trip to Greece was the octopus. All along the water near town, fishermen were set up to sell their fresh caught octopus. I was in awe with how huge they were!
Between blue skies, clear water, white, minimalist architecture and the best food I have ever tasted, I hope we get the opportunity to visit this beautiful country again soon.