"Sleep, swim, eat and read" on the Greek Islands

Everyone is picky when it comes to choosing an island to escape their daily routine. Our islands need to have all the right proportions. We like them rugged and remote. They shouldn't try too hard, but they should have enough to keep you from growing bored. The first timers tend to visit the most frequented and most famous of the Greek archipelago's seven island groups, the tourist's trilogy of Mykonos, Delos and Santorini.
The island of Santorini is famous for its beauty and its sophisticated hotels, but there are other islands in the Cyclades ( Greek Island Group ) that have different attractions.

When you fly into Santorini, your first impressions might lean towards unsightly buildings that pockmark the landscape. It is only when you catch sight of the caldera - the flooded crater created by a volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago - that you will appreciate why this is one of the world's top honeymoon destinations.

All three are islands whose charms reveal themselves rather quickly - and perhaps a bit too generously.

Alternately, one should consider visiting the lesser-known central Cyclades, including Paros, Antiparos, Naxos and Pano Koufonisi. These are islets that surrender themselves much more slowly. They have hardly any smart shops, boisterous restaurants or nightclubs - and yet there seems to be no end of whitewashed hillside towns and hidden swimming caves to discover and explore. Each is a bather's paradise. Paros alone has about 30 beaches. They come in endless varieties: on the northern tip of the island there's Kolymbithres, famous for bizarre rock formations rubbed so smooth by the sand that they're almost lunar; or the windsurfing haven at Chrissi Akti on the south-eastern side, where kiteboarders' colourful sails fly across the sky in arching swoops. Many have bamboo-thatched umbrellas and little chapels.

Antiparos on the other hand, is a place for those who seek and require no society but their own. On this small island old men sit beneath ancient oak trees playing backgammon, while the hippies who washed up here in the 1970s still run nudist camps. Though you might bump into Bruce Springsteen at The Doors, a local bar where the owner gives free ouzo to anyone who can sing all the lyrics of Bob Dylan's 'Hurricane', you'll otherwise be left alone. And in summertime in Greece, that is the rarest, most precious thing of all.

The truth is that these isles have been drawing writers and artists seeking escape for centuries. They come here to find refuge from all the things that come to define and, equally, oppress him. On these islands, there is none of that - there is only sun, sea and serenity. One will probably not see a single newspaper in their entire stay here and live in a timeless haze of repetition. One day merges soothingly into another without incident. Each day is a pattern. On these islands, life is nothing but sleep, swim, eat and read.

Abhishek Londhe
(Team Veena World)