Locals often describe Karpathos as being two distinct islands, with its rugged, mountainous and astonishingly beautiful northern half in stark contrast to the fertile, low-lying south. That said, the east-coast road starts to climb as soon as you head north from Pigadia and the scenery turns ever more spectacular.
Diafani is an intimate, wind-blasted huddle of white houses fronted by cobalt blue water, backdropped by a mountain. Bar the crash of the waves and old men playing backgammon, nothing else stirs. Most travellers pass through Diafani, so if you stay you’ll likely have the beaches and trails to yourself.
The largest but also the prettiest of the low-key west-coast resorts, 20km north of Finiki and a 5km detour down from the main road. Lefkos is here for a very good reason – its curving sandy beach is absolutely delightful. This is the kind of place where two weeks can vanish in gentle wanderings between beach and brunch.
Arrayed along a neat little south-facing crescent bay, picturesque Finiki stands just 2km north of Arkasa. White-and-blue houses, interspersed with a peppering of tavernas, front its sleepy harbour and small grey-sand beach. The best local swimming is at Agios Georgios Beach, a short way south towards Arkasa.