This lesser-known Ionian island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With pristine shores, wild olive groves and wooded mountains, the untamed natural beauty is enough to make you feel a million miles from home.
As our taxi sped away from the airport and into the afternoon heat, we sifted through a handful of photographs of the house we would be staying in, consulting the hand-drawn map which accompanied these clues. Stopping off in town to stock up on supplies, we strolled down the main street in a hot daze, looking a little lost and confused. We were soon welcomed by the locals in a quintessentially Greek manner, when a lovely lady in the grocer’s shop helped me carry armfuls of fresh fruit and veg and a kind man let us dump our bags in his supermarket. He called us a cab rather indifferently, as if it were protocol to treat tourists as a distant relative coming to stay. He even got us a cheap price for the ride, telling the cab driver that we were his friends.
We spent our days either chilling out at the local beach bar in Episkopos or exploring the island by moped. If you are planning on visiting Lefkada, a set of wheels is essential if you want to investigate the island’s many famous as well as more hidden beaches. Blissful afternoons can be spent whizzing along the open mountain roads, climbing higher and higher through olive groves and pine forests until the blue horizon briefly disappears from view, only to reappear around the next bend. Keep your eyes peeled for roadside vendors selling locally produced pure honey and olive oil!
Staying on the east side of the island, it took us a couple of hours to ride all the way around to Egremni Beach, a famous mile-long stretch of hot white pebbles and crystal clear water tucked below steep rocky cliffs on the south-western coast of the island. The remote beach is accessed by a 347-step ‘Stairway to Heaven’, however this was quickly transformed into the Stairway of Hell on the sweltering 150m ascent back up the rugged cliff face. The climb was worth it though, as this beach was the most perfect beach I have ever laid eyes on. The bright turquoise water rolls out for miles and miles until it dissolves into a hazy blue horizon, hardly distinguishable against the pale blue sky.
Sadly, no one will ever be able to set foot on this beach again, or at least not for a very long time. A deadly earthquake shook the magnificent cliffs a few months after our blissful visit, sending a landslide tumbling down onto the pristine shores. Voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it is now hidden forever under a mass of dust and rubble.
Despite losing this picturesque coastline, the island does still boast a wealth of other stunning hideaways. Our personal favourite was Pasa Beach, a quiet little cove sheltered by low-hanging trees just north of the town Nydri. It’s the perfect place to cool down after buzzing along on a moped all day, with a dramatic backdrop of distant lands undulating on the horizon.
For the more adventurous, the Dimossari waterfall can be found hidden in the depths of a white rocky gorge just outside of Nydri. At the end of it’s cascade through the lush green mountains sits an icy blue plunge pool, awaiting the arrival of tourists, hot and breathless from the long walk up through the steep ravine. To enjoy this peaceful spot in total seclusion, set off before 8am and you will have the little pool all to yourself.