Just got back today and had such a wonderful time. Thank you for all of your help, it really made a difference so I thought I'd just pass on some tips.
Bit of background - family of 6. 2 forty somethings, 1 OAP, 3 kids (12, 8,8). All serious foodies and love to get off the beaten track for a bit of an adventure.
We stayed for a week and just to give you an idea - we spent about £1600 between us (about 2000 euros). Every penny was well spent and enjoyed.
Included in this is a car rental (6 seater for approx 170 Euros) for three days. We hired from Margaris in Tsivili and Peter was outstanding. He listened to what we liked to do and planned a daily route for us to get us off of the beaten track. Without his help we would never have found the hidden gems below!
Day 1 - Kalamaki (Crystal Beach). Spent time just lazing on this glorious beach in the morning. The kids loved the crystals embedded into the rock faces and then we had a late breakfast of donuts and muffins (healthy or what?) around the pool which had a view of the ocean. It was gorgeous.
From here we drove up towards Keri/Limni. We had a light, late lunch in a small taverna by the beach and rented our own motorboat from just outside (It was 40 euros for 4 hours). As we were directly opposite Turtle Island we weren't afraid of getting lost, first we went to see some caves and then straight to turtle island. Unfortunately we didn't see any turtles but we did moor up (don't know if that's the right terminology) on the opposite side of the main beach. There was just one other small boat there so we practically had the beach all to ourselves. Half of us went snorkelling whilst the others stayed on the beach and played around in the sand and water. It was so lovely we stayed until our time had almost run out - so we just sailed round the rest of Turtle Island, past the other beach that was really busy with lots of bigger boats dropping people off and sailed back along the coast to return the boat. All the kids sat at the front of the boat and had an amazing time. In the evening we went to a really authentic Greek Taverna Grill called Porto Roulis (apparently it usually only attracts the Greek tourists). Location was right on the beach, in the middle of nowhere. The service was very slow but the lamb was to die for.
Day 2 - We drove past Alykes and went to a beach known as the Xigia Sulphur Springs and Collagen Spa. It was just a small cove, reached by lots of steps and quite a steep incline but the trek was more than worth it (it's only takes 5 minutes). The cove was deserted, there were a handful of unoccupied sunbeds and umbrellas that were for hire but we wanted to go in the sea. The kids complained about the smell at first (really bad rotten eggs from the sulphur!) but they quickly got used to it. There were some rocks and a cave that you could swim out to. The water was pure turquoise and it was beautiful. More people started arriving just before lunch so we packed up and headed to our next stop, right at the tip of the island by the Blue Caves.
We stopped for lunch at a Greek Taverna called the Windmill. It was the most beautiful setting you could possibly imagine. It was perched on a cliff side with a path leading down to a sunbathing area and steps directly into the sea. From here you could actually swim into one of the Blue Caves. It was picture post card.
After this we headed for a boat trip to Shipwreck Cove. Popular belief is to go in the morning to miss the hoards however apparently the tour operators have cottoned on to this and now morning is not a good time. We went just before 3 - we went with the people who owned the taverna (Portamis Tours) and it was 15 Euros per adult and 7 for children. There was only us on the boat and when we got to Shipwreck Cove there was only one other small boat there so again we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. The boat dropped us off right on the beach (take beach shoes!) and picked us up about 40 minutes later. The kids loved exploring the wreck (even tho it's an old oil tanker) and swimming in the sea. Oddly the sea here felt freezing - much colder than anywhere else - don't know why that was but we all felt it. The boat picked us back up and took us through the Blue Caves. I think the trip lasted just short of 2 hours and was well worth it.
In the evening we drove up to the Balcony Hotel for dinner. We timed it for sunset and we weren't disappointed - it was spectacular and the food was great too.
Day 3 - Today we were exploring the West Coast so we drove up to Porto Vromi and reached a small secluded harbour. Again other than a couple of fishermen we were the only ones there. The sea was as still as glass and there was a great little taverna on the end. We all had a swim and some drinks before heading into Kampi for lunch at the Cross Taverna. This place again is in the middle of nowhere and perched on a cliff side with magnificent views - apparently this is the best spot on the whole island to watch the sunset and I can see why. I could have stayed there all day just drinking in the scenery (and a few Mythos!) but the kids were dying to cool off in some water so we drove to Porto Roxa. At first I thought we'd got the wrong place as it seemed deserted. We wandered right to the end and there was a gorgeous taverna that had either closed down or wasn't yet open for the season but all the sunbeds and natural umbrellas were still set up and overlooked a private little bay that looked like a Disney waterpark - it was that perfect. There was no beach but a path that led down to a man made wooden diving platform. It was quite high but all the way down the path were rocks to jump and dive off. For the less adventurous (me) when you reached the bottom there was a platform where you could just enter the water. The kids (and dh) had a blast jumping in and all (except me) eventually went off the high diving board. The water was like glass and the cove was very sheltered so although deep - it seemed really safe - the fish followed us around and we fed them bread whilst snorkelling. This was on par with any water park we've ever been to (and we were in Florida for Easter) and we had to drag ourselves away sometime around 6pm. There was another English couple there but other than that - again it was just us!
For evening meal, we'd promised the kids something more 'them' so we went to Popeyes in Tsilivi. I was dreading it but actually it was really good!
These 3 days were as perfect as perfect can be!