The Greek island of Paxos or Paxoi is just south of Corfu and, at only eight kilometres long by three kilometres wide, it's one of the smallest in the Ionian chain of islands that sit off the western coast of mainland Greece.
Paxos is not just small in size; it can also feel very much like an island in miniature with its dinky beaches, toy-town villages and dainty hills.
With just three small coastal resorts, at Gaios, Loggos and Lakka, Paxos can sometimes feel a little crowded, especially in August.
A boat is the only way of getting to Paxos and, with a trio of large harbours, it is a big stopover favourite with yacht flotillas.
Despite being harder to reach, Paxos is still a much sought-after Greek Island holiday destination, especially for independent travellers. It is also favoured by wealthy Greek and Italian families.
Paxos is very pretty with hillsides carpeted in olive groves where the ancient trees are renowned for the very highest quality oil.
Beaches are stone and pebble and many are quite small. They can get crammed as the flotilla crews join the throngs of day trippers.
The nearby islet of Antipaxos has a couple of decent beaches with the golden sands at Vrika particularly appealing.
Paxos beaches may be pebble and stone but this is still one of the most popular islands in the Ionian group and a favourite of the Italians. Sheer cliffs line the west coast and all Paxos beaches are found on the gentler eastern shore, many set in idyllic bays backed by pine forest and most easily reached from a road that runs the length of the island. Those visitors who like sand between their toes can sail to nearby Antipaxos for two of the best sandy beaches in this part of the Med.
Most ferries to Paxos arrive at the toy-town port of Gaios, named after the saint who brought Christianity to the island. Tiny, compact and very attractive, Gaios has a crescent quayside backed by a handsome Venetian square.
Cafes and tavernas fringe the harbour and day-trippers provide plenty of business for the locals. The streets may be too narrow for cars but it is not unknown to get stuck in human traffic in the high season.
A couple of outlying islets, Agios Nikolaos and Panagia, provide natural protection and pleasant views even if only glimpsed through the multiple masts of the moored yachts.
Whitewashed alleys lead off the main square, stuffed with souvenir shops, although the wares are more sophisticated than usual with good pottery and beautiful jewellery always on show.
Worth seeing are the castle of Agios Nikolaos, although a permit is needed from the local council and the monastery on Panagia islet. The Church of Agios Apostoli behind the bus stop has many beautiful icons and there is an ancient cistern to the right of the church.
The road south out of Gaios leads around the headland to a narrow strip of pebble at Plakes and a more extended stone strand at Defteri. Around another headland is a pebble cove at Ballos near the tiny fishing port at Agia Marina which has the remains of an early Christian church at the end of the beach.
There used to be a small pebble beach on the southern tip of Paxos at Mogonisi until a new beach was dynamited out of the cliff and filled with sand to serve the needs of a nearby hotel. Mogonisi is an islet connected to Paxos with a causeway of stepping stones.
The more adventurous can investigate some of the many small coves found on this part of the coast; great for swimming and for sunbathing on the slabs of rock.
North of Gaios the road loops over the headland offering fine views across the bay to the small port of Geramonachus where ferries pull in from Corfu, Parga and Igoumenitsa.
A sharp turn north takes the coast road past pebble strands at Kioni and Kamini before it swings inland again. Here a track leads down to the beautiful sheltered beach at Kaki Laganda set in a very pretty bay where a beach cantina opens in the summer.
There are small beaches further north here at Tripitis and Pigmeni but they are accessible only on foot or by boat.
Loggos is the smallest of the ports on Paxos and even more photo-snappingly picturesque than Gaios with clusters of flower-decked houses overlooking the small fishing harbour.
Picturesque seclusion sells this place which often doubles as a film set, especially the east-facing quayside which is an ideal spot for alfresco breakfast although early risers snap up the best tables at the waterside tavernas.
Visitors claim Loggos outshines the other resorts for the quality of taverna food and it pays to book in the busiest summer months.
Besides the waterfront tavernas and a few cafes, Loggos has three mini -markets, a bakery and several tourist shops.
At the end of the harbour stands the tall chimney at a disused soap factory. Several plans have been put forward to develop the site.
Loggos hosts the Paxos International Music Festival, usually in August or September, with events centred in the old school house.
Just south of Loggos is a beautiful shingle beach at Levrechio which has a beach taverna, unusual for Paxos. The proximity to Loggos means it gets busier than most, although it is rarely crowded.
The road curls inland and tracks lead off to beaches at Kipos and Marmari, the latter set in a very pretty bay with the advantage of shade from the olive trees that grow right down to the shoreline.
There are many small coves in the area for those who like a spot to themselves, although many can only be reached by boat.
Further still is Pounda which is served by a track from the main road. This trail also branches south and down a very steep bank to the long pebble beach of Kipiadi, a favourite anchorage for yachts.
Recent road improvements could mean this beach is about to get a lot more popular.
The port resort at Lakka is approached through an avenue of new apartments. The least picturesque of the ports, Lakka still has a friendly, less inhibited air and a trip to Lakka may make the other ports seem snooty in comparison.
Lakka sits in a lovely horseshoe bay flanked by silver-green olive groves and stands of cypress. The village has a small square edged with Venetian buildings and fed by a maze of narrow alleyways.
There are plenty of shops and mini-markets as well as a fair number of tavernas and Italian restaurants. Music bars can stay open until the early hours.
Lakka struggles with the volume of day trip traffic and boats will often queue to get through the narrow strait and into the bay to tie up at the crowded quayside.
Ferries from Corfu arrive at noon and stop for two to three hours and tavernas have multiplied to meet the demand, often making Lakka a noisy place in the early afternoons.
This is the best centre for island walking and several good trails head inland or along the coast for spectacular cliffside views.
Two pebble beaches around the western edge of the bay at Lakka offer some sunbathing and there is sand underfoot at Harami once in the water, a rarity on Paxos.
Harami also shelves gently into the sea so it's a preferred spot for families although the water may not be the cleanest with scores of yachts and boats at anchor in the bay. At the head of the bay is a small pebble beach at Kanoni.
Beaches east of Lakka are best reached by travelling inland along the asphalt road and branching off down one of the many tracks that lead to the sea.
First is Arkoudaki, accessible down a steep path, while nearby is a pebble strand at Orkos and another over the headland at Lakos. But the most fashionable beach on this stretch of coast is Monodendri (the name means single tree).
Another beach lies further to the south at Glyfada but it is only accessible by a very steep track and so is rarely visited.