Heading north from the mountains inland, the roads wind and twist like spaghetti, eventually taking you to the somewhat scrappy seaside village of Apollonas. In an ancient quarry on the hillside above the village is a colossal 7th-century BC kouros, much larger and easier to find than the Kouros of Flerio. Follow the small signs to get here.
Apollonas’ beach isn’t great but the seafood is. Tavernas line the waterfront and serve the freshest of fish.
A worthy side-trip is to Lionas, where a scenic 8km drive past old emery mines leads you to a lovely stony beach and a couple of tavernas. Delfinaki is super-friendly, serving up great home cooking and farm-fresh ingredients. Vassiliki, the hostess, sells homemade jams, 'spoon sweets' and wines.
With your own transport you can return to Hora via the northwest-coast road, passing through wild and sparsely populated country with awe-inspiring sea views. En route, stop for a look at the Tower of Ayia, the majestic ruins of a castle with a spectacular ocean backdrop.
Beaches south of Agios Georgios (Hora’s town beach) include beautiful Agios Prokopios, which is sandy and shallow and lies in a sheltered bay to the south of the headland of Cape Mougkri. It merges with Agia Anna, a stretch of shining white sand, quite narrow but long enough to feel uncrowded towards its southern end. Development is fairly solid at Prokopios and the northern end of Agia Anna.
Sandy beaches continue as far as Pyrgaki, passing the beautiful turquoise waters of the long, dreamy Plaka Beach and gorgeous sandy bays punctuated with rocky outcrops. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, accommodation and bus stops along this stretch – it’s an idyllic place for a chilled-out beach stay. Maragas Beach Camping has a good set-up across from a long sandy strand south of Agia Anna: camping, studios and rooms, a supermarket and a taverna. There’s a regular bus from Hora that stops out front.
At Mikri Vigla (http://mikrivigla.com), golden granite slabs and boulders divide the beach into two. This beach is becoming an increasingly big fish on the kitesurfing scene, with reliable wind conditions. Flisvos Kite Centre offers kite- and windsurfing classes and rents equipment to certified surfers. You can stay next door at Orkos Beach Hotel, where rooms are clean and comfy but will hardly see you as you’ll be too busy on the beach.
Practical Tip: Road Trip
Naxos is a big island. If you have limited time and want to see it all, we recommend renting some wheels and heading out on a road trip. It's feasible in a day to visit Halki, Filoti, Apiranthos and Melanes in a big loop, and even head further afield to Apollonas or Lionas. Contact Sakis at Naxos Auto Rent for a car.