“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me, those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language” –Henry James.
With summer on its way, an island vacation is on the top of the list of things to do. But, there are so many choices and so many questions! Where? Why? How? Rockstar, as always, decided to give you the inside scoop of the top 3 islands to visit over the summer so not only will your summer afternoons be beautiful, but your mornings and evenings will be, too.
CAPRI: The magical island of Capri has charmed visitors for centuries. Great Roman Emperors to famous playwrights have all found themselves drawn to Capri’s sheer cliffs rising out of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its natural cove-studded coastline draws in snorkelers, scuba divers and sailors in their yachts. The landscape entertains banks of blooming bougainvillea which are a feast for the eyes. The two main towns, Capri and Anacapri, offer upscale hotels, designer boutiques, endless cafes and, magnificent views.
EXPERIENCE: Whether you stay on the island of Capri one day, 10 days, or longer, you must visit the famous Blue Grotto. Yes, it is a busy tourist attraction. Yes, you may have to wait in line before getting on the small wooden boat that will take you through the cave. But, when you experience the sunlight reflecting off of the grotto walls, you will understand why the Blue Grotto is called indescribable.
Take a slightly strenuous hike, or ride the chair lift, to the top of Monte Solaro, the highest point on the island. At the peak, take a deep breath. You will be enthralled with the panoramic view of the Gulf of Naples. Soak in the vista while you enjoy a drink on the terrace of La Canzone del Cielo café.
You should still have time to visit the Villa San Michele, located in Anacapri. The Villa was the dream home of the Swedish physician who declared, “My house must be open to the sun, to the wind, and the voice of the sea, just like a Greek temple, and light, light, light everywhere.” It has been said that the view from this Villa is so breathtaking, for a moment, you will forget that time exists.
HOTEL RECOMMENDATION: The Capri Palace Hotel and Spa
The problem with staying at this hotel is that you will be tempted not to leave it even though you will be just steps from the Blue Grotto, the Chair Lift to Monte Solaro, and the Axel Munthe Museum. Walk or use the hotel's shuttle service. Enjoy three restaurants, a private beach, private swimming pool, and shopping for upscale items and art work. Everything found in the hotel environment is reminiscent of an 18th Century Napoleonic palace.
CRETE: Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, known for having the best Greek food it is possible to find, is an ideal summer vacation destination. Those who visit, those who live there, and those who promote tourism, all agree that Crete has something for everyone.
EXPERIENCE: Visitors bask on the beach and swim, surf or snorkel in the sea. History buffs will keep busy exploring ruins dating back to 6000 BCE from the beginning of the Bronze Age. They can wander around the narrow streets of the Old Town in the middle of Chania, which is often referred to as the Venice of the East. The town itself is considered a monument, and no cars are allowed on its streets.
Remnants of Venetian mansions remain for visitors to examine. Many historical monuments are also found within the Old Town environs. Waterfront restaurants provide respite from the day of scouting out the sites. According to one source, “Crete is, after all, a small universe teeming with beauties and treasures that you will probably need a lifetime to uncover!”
HOTEL RECOMMENDATION: The Domus Renier Boutique Hotel is located next to the sea in Old Town Chania. The hotel offers full-service pampering and often unheard-of amenities and learning opportunities. For example, you can learn how to cook Greek cuisine in the hotel kitchen. Or, just sip your favorite beverage as you lounge in the library, lingering over tomes of Greek poets and writers.
SANTORINI: For some, the lure of vacationing on an active volcano takes them to the Greek island of Santorini. The “precious gem of the Aegean” has become a favorite wedding destination site for couples from all over the world. It is also said to have the best scenery of all the Greek islands.
EXPERIENCE: The Santorini caldera, the crater made in the volcanic eruption that took place 3,500 years ago, has now filled with sea water. It has been called “one of the most important geological figures on planet earth.” Tourists come from far and wide just to witness an indescribable sunset over the caldera,
Most people agree the best place for viewing the caldera is in the town of Oia. Getting to Oia is an adventure of its own. The road to Oia meanders up cliffs, some as high as 1,200 feet. Traveling the road to Oia may not be for the weak of heart. It is often only two narrow lanes that appear more to be a ridge on a cliff than a road. And, there are no guard rails.
The town of Oai makes the jaw-dropping trip worthwhile. Few experiences can match watching the sunset over the caldera. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants offering authentic Greek cuisine, bars where visitors can loll, and hotels, all nestled into the cliffs providing breathtaking views of the caldera.
The town itself is composed of white-washed buildings sprawled up and down the cliffs. Stroll through its streets to find museums and art galleries. Stop for a drink at one of the many bars, or at a café for a snack. Keep in mind that you are likely safe. The volcano has not erupted for more than 60 years and is now considered dormant.
HOTEL RECOMMENDATION: Chromata Santorini - Perched on the side of the cliffs in the picturesque village of Imerovigli, is the stunning Chromata Santorini with the most breathtaking views of the volcano and the Aegean Sea. Spend your days overlooking the infinite blue sea while having a cocktail in the hotels jacuzzi or indulge in a daily massage. For the romantic souls we recommend a candlelight dinner at Chroma Up-Style Restaurant, with magnificent views over the caldera.