Do yourself a huge favor whilst on your Corfu holiday: Leave the laptop and iPhone at the resort or villa on at least one day, and venture out to the best secluded beaches along the northern coastline. You can travel by rental car or motor scooter or — far better — hire a small boat, with or without a skipper. That way you can meander among the coast’s many gorgeous coves and beaches at your leisure, swim in opalescent waters, anchor next to a beach tavern, and unwind in style. Try to travel to “Kensington-on-Sea” during the quieter months (April and October are lovely) and you’ll be rewarded with less competition as you hop along the coast, discovering picturesque beaches, coves, and inlets that can often be accessed only by boat.
The northeast coastline definitely contains perhaps the best beaches on Corfu, and won my heart mostly for the way that its emerald green mountains gently descend into the Ionian Sea, producing tons of sweet little coves and strips of sand to form. You’ll want to hire a skiff or small boat, an option that not only affords flexibility but also allows you to best navigate Corfu’s spectacular coastline and find the most secluded beaches and hideaways. Be aware, however, that many of the strands are not ideal for tots: There is the occasional steep hill as well as sudden or shelving drop-offs, so swimming is beautiful, but only for the well-initiated swimmer.
Find a boat for hire, and map out an itinerary from these suggestions (or let a local skipper lead you). Pick up plenty of provisions, including water, sunscreen, beach towels, and a first-aid kit. Pack a picnic lunch (include fresh bread and local delicacies like kumquat jam, olives, and cheeses) so that you needn’t fear being stranded without food, Robinson Crusoe-style! Although the chances are good you’ll want to dine or have a nip at a taverna, consider saving that for dinnertime and the sunset hour, which is simply smashing on Corfu’s north coast.
It’s perhaps best to get a reliable boat and captain and while away all day (boat rental is usually 9 am to sunset), cruising aimlessly and discovering yourself exactly which secluded beach is your personal favorite. But if you like a destination (or want to be assured of a good dinner!), there are four or five small coves and beaches we recommend. Kaminaki is perhaps the most picturesque, a pocket-sized cove with just a few traditional houses. Another small beach, Agni has been officially “discovered” by the glamourous, but is still worth seeing for gorgeous water, views of Albania, and the high likelihood of spotting a celeb while dining on seafood, lamb, or at one of its three much-praised tavernas. A bit farther along, Amvlak fronts a curving bay that has panoramic views and a desolate pebble strand that is well worth a stop. Finally, consider anchoring at Kouloura, a pretty pint-sized fishing harbor with a single tavern and a small chapel dedicated to Saint Nikolas.