The cool evening breeze is a welcome relief from the heat of the hot summer days here in Lefkada. Nick and the entire staff at the Hotel Konaki are welcoming and offer suggestions for dinner, so I walk to nearby Seven Islands on my first night on the island and the second night to the adjacent Kanioria.
The owner of Seven Islands guides me to a small display case cooler where several fish are stacked on ice. “You have the tchupero,” she says pointing to a small white mullet fish, served whole, grilled and with fresh grilled vegetables. I order a greek salad and a nice bottle of local white wine, Lefkadas.
At Kanioria, I meet the passionate chef Tasos who serves me a hearty beef stew and for an appetizer the traditional Lefkada dish of Savoro tuna marinated in rosemary vinegar sauce with garlic and served with smoked eggplant puree and black raisins.
What makes the Lefkada beaches paradise and ranked in the top ten of the world is the pure crystal clear blue and aquamarine color of the Ionian sea, especially on the west coast of the island. I ride around the entire island while taking a reprieve from the heat in those clear waters twice. The entire trip is about 75 miles and the roads wind and twists over steep hills covered in conifer and olive trees and thickets of sage, rosemary, and other herbs, while on the western slopes tall green pine trees.
It’s this lush green landscape combined with the white beaches and hypnotically blue waters that makes Lefkada unique among the Greek islands. While the beach bars of Mykonos, Eos, and Corfu are likely blasting thumping beats of the latest dance-pop, on Lefkada, it’s easy to find peace serenity, and silence, save the kinetic beat of the cicadas.
Oh, that’s not to say the party cannot be found on Lefkada, the beaches and bars of the town of Lefkada, the western beach of Kathisma Beach/Agios Nikitas), and the busy town of Nydri offers beautiful cafes, boat rentals, outdoor recreation services, and the party at night.
The appeal of Lefkada is there are no huge resort-style hotels and this makes the island seem to offer a more authentic Greek island experience than the popular destinations. Just riding through the hills I love to stop at a small roadside stands where friendly locals sell olives and olive oil and particular near the tiny village of Athani, the honey. Stopping here I meet a local beekeeper who lets me wander through the hillside where colorful bee boxes are buzzing with bees at work making that glorious honey that makes this town famous.
As much as I would love to support and load up on great Greek olive oil and some of the best honey in the world, but I’m on a bike and space is tight.
So I pack my heart and mind with experiences—like walking down the 99 steps to the beach at Porto Katsiki, where the busy August crowds wade and swim in the beautiful waters, people jump from the rock cliffs, or off sailboats moored in the crescent-shaped bay. I’d say it’s one of the best beaches I’ve ever been through that is accessible by road.
Another, Egremni beach, just north of here is only accessible by boat since an earthquake crumbled the rocky steps that once provided access, albeit by a steep and long walk up and down.