Captain Panos Sailing
Naxos Harbor, Naxos
There are a few different boat companies on Naxos, but the expeditions led by Captain Panos and his crew easily lead the pack. There are dozens of secret coves, hidden caves, and sandy beaches on Naxos that are reachable only by boat, and Panos knows all of them. It takes a full day to get the lay of the land, but the hours pass too quickly in a haze of swimming, snorkeling, and—for the more intrepid explorers—cliff jumping. Water, snacks, and beer are abundant on the boat, and lunch is served on a nearby island, Pano Koufounisi. The crew knows every nook and cranny of the island and is especially good at encouraging the more nervous swimmers into the water. Their historical and topographical knowledge, meanwhile, beats any guidebook.
Monastery of Panagia Drosiani
Chalkiou-Keramotis, Drimalia, Naxos
This Byzantine site is of huge religious importance to the Greeks. It’s built from thousands of small, overlapping stones with gently curving walls and topped with domes that, seen from above, form the shape of the cross. Inside, many ancient murals—some of which date as far back as the seventh century—are still visible.
Naxos Port, Naxos
This two-and-a-half-thousand-year-old marble doorway leads nowhere. What was left of the never-finished temple was completely ransacked by Turkish and Venetian invaders during their respective occupations of the island. Standing about eight meters high, the Portara is made of solid marble and stands on what has become its own small island (blame the wind and waves for the erosion) reachable by causeway. There is something majestic about this portal. Maybe it’s the fact that it faces the island of Delos, the birthplace of Apollo. Or maybe it’s that this giant doorway is still standing, having survived the battering of the elements for thousands of years. In any case, the scenery and the structure are simply breathtaking.
Temple of Demeter
It makes sense that any temples dedicated to the goddess of grain would be situated near farmland or, at least, what was once considered fertile ground. In this case, a lush valley just south of Sangi village. The temple itself is pre-Acropolis, dating to 530 B.C. It was discovered in 1949 and has since undergone extensive restoration. Read up on Demeter before making the visit—it goes a long way toward bringing the temple to life.