There is a supermarket in the marina but it is very small and quite pricey. 5 mins walk into Kondokoli is AB’s - a giant supermarket! Also there is a fab pool and cafe up by marina office with free WIFI and delicious drinks and food. Good to dump the kids while you tidy up on the last day! You can also get a service laundry done for 15 Euros and come back with no washing to do.
Refuelling at Gouvia. The diesel closes at 4pm and from 3.30 on there are hoards of tired and impatient craft clustering aggressively, waiting to refuel. Queuing is not an option - dirty manoeuvring preferable! Or get there earlier!
Best eatery in Kondokali is Taverna Takis - leave marina by pier A join high street turn left. The Beer Barrel Bar was full of very drunk ex pats when we called in – may have been a one off!
A nightclub operates from 10pm til 4am in Mourtos village but just around the corner of the headland you can hardly hear it. Anchoring in Middle Bay is idyllic and not too crowded as access to the village is not as easy. You can go stern to on the south side of the next bay down from Mourtos or anchor off if there is room. The water is gorgeously clear, and we spotted some experts sneaking their boats into little nooks all around Nikolaos Island - as it was our first day we didn’t feel brave enough to try.
Anchoring off is easy but stern to is safer if you can get a spot as the small craft traffic is very very alarmingly oblivious of swimmers in the water. Best time to moor up is 2-3pm as most head off after lunch or come in early evening (that’s true of most places actually). The water in the morning is crystal clear but by evening is very murky. That said the town is gorgeous and the eating out very good. Don't feel obliged to eat your main meal and pudding in one venue. We had drinks in one, main course in another, and baklava and ice-cream in a third! There is a loud disco til the early hours!
Mongonisi/Paxos was heaven . Quiet, empty the only music was a fun family party (cheesy 80’s music) one night which finished at 11 and then beautiful traditional greek guitar music another. The water was lovely and very little small craft traffic or jet ski so very safe for snorkelling children. The Italian cafe Carnayo next door to the Greek taverna was a welcome change of diet and the atmosphere very laid back. Next door is a great but quite touristy Greek taverna but the setting is SO beautiful its well worth it and the staff were lovely. We moored stern to but it was lovely and empty and the next morning we hitched a lift into Gaios and restocked in a fab supermarket.
The next entrance south of Mongonisi is a small narrow channel between the 2 southernmost islands too shallow to go all the way through with our yacht but you can moor up in there if you get there before 9 in the morning you beat the little daytripper boats and can get a gorgeous stern to spot for the day or overnight in calm weather. Stunning.
BEWARE Emerald Bay. It is beautiful if you can see the water. The buoyed off swimming area is ignored much to the anger of the locals (we witnessed several ‘set tos’) and despite all advice to the contrary, everyone anchors overnight. We had read that you couldn’t overnight there, so got up super early from Lakka to arrive for breakfast and get a swim in before heading for the mainland. We arrived at 7.30 only to find at least 40 yachts anchored in the 2 northern bays and 10 or 15 supersized motor yachts blocking up the entrance to the both with their generators humming. It was literally hideous. We squeezed in and stayed for a couple of hours but feeling really sad as we had visited it 10 years ago in May and it was breathtaking. It is terrifying to get into the water there after about 9.30am, jetskis, rental boats, small motor boats, tourist taxi boats weave in and out of the yachts to get to the shore and pay no attention to swimmers. Horrible.
Splendidly empty and calm after a choppy and bouncy transit through Preveza we headed for Vonitsa. The smell from the fish farms is gag worthy! We had hoped to see dolphins but I read in the New Scientist when we got home that the fish farms are making the water so toxic they may not survive. In retrospect when we all said ‘ isn't the water warm here?’ As we dived into it assuming it was warm because it was shallow, I’m not so sure we weren’t having a quick chemical peel!. That said we had one of our best best sailing days in Amvrakia and not another boat in sight. Anchored with 3 boats behind the small pine clad headland to the East of Vonitsa away from the town. The church on one end of the headland was lit luminous pink and the bridge luminous green all night! Very strange. If you are up wind of the smell and you don’t want to swim it is gorgeous here.
We love Ligia! Maybe it was the contrast to Emerald Bay and the pong of Amvrakia or maybe the dolphin sighting on the way there but we loved it. We held our breath and tried three different approaches into the harbour. Hairy! The best Taverna in the world (fish only, no meat) and half the price of everywhere else we ate which was a bonus as the food was easily the best we have eaten anywhere. Everyone else on mainland Greece thinks so too but only the Greeks so the atmosphere is fantastic and noisy and all about the food. We could have moved in here. We were the only yacht in the harbour – best to moor on the North side of the jetty and not on the end of the pier. There is no sign to say so but the one ferry boat in the harbour uses it to load and pick up passengers and in the evening everyone comes down with their fishing rods and whole families crowd onto the pier and fish. They invited our kids to join in which was lovely. The beach is not as lovely as your book suggests as it is rocky and slippy to get in and out of the water but once in - great snorkelling !
Swell and Wash
The catch phrase of the holiday was ‘‘ware wash!’ followed by a general diving around to hang on to anything that might go crash as ferry wash appeared out of nowhere or large power cruisers churned by sending us rocking all over the shop. Because of the level of traffic and the size of the engines on some of these boats the swell is fairly constant during the day all along the coast of Corfu Paxos and Anti Paxos. The only places we we escaped the swell fully were Ligia and Amvrakia. Even in Lakka which is pretty sheltered and in Mongonisi we had swell until at least 9 or 10 at night..
Best item of the holiday
Wet suit shoes for everyone as mooring up and swimming and clambering ashore is fraught with sea urchins. Items we wish we had had - a fishing line for children. We also invested in a cheap set of snorkels, goggles and flippers each. Last year we didn’t have enough. And this year we also took bio wash which we used for hair clothes washing up etc - we were a detergent free boat!
One final tip might be don’t feel you have to set a route and stick to it – not always necessary to cover the distances and endless motoring is very dull for the kids. Because of the Summer weather with the wind picking up in the afternoons it is possible to find a great place from which to go out for the afternoon and sail when the wind is up -we spent a crazy afternoon tacking up the west coast of Paxos in a lovely brisk wind and then went back to Mongonisi because we liked it so much, by the time we got in it was flat calm (except for the swell!)!