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Getaway (South Africa) - - TRAVEL -

GET­TING THERE

I flew to Lon­don with Emi­rates; from R9 800 re­turn ( emi­rates. com). From there I flew to Corfu with Easyjet; from R3 600 re­turn ( easyjet.com). I then took a bus from the air­port in Corfu to the small town of Agios Ste­fanos for R57 and then a wa­ter taxi to Mathraki, or­gan­ised by the ho­tel I’d be stay­ing at. From R749 re­turn. cor­fupar­adise.com

WHEN TO GO

SwimQuest runs its Mathraki hol­i­days from May to Septem­ber, when the weather is gen­er­ally sunny and the sea about 24˚C. Corfu and sur­rounds were still rel­a­tively un-swamped by tourists when I went in the first week of June.

NEED TO KNOW

There are no ATMs on Mathraki, so take enough cash. Beers cost about R30, a carafe of wine is R75 and an ice cream from R22. Take suf­fi­cient good-qual­ity sun­screen as you’re out in the sun most of the day – and a qual­ity bot­tle of the stuff on Corfu costs the equiv­a­lent of R200. I bought a ‘cheap’ R70 bot­tle on the third day and paid the price. South African pass­port hold­ers need a Schen­gen visa (R900). vf­s­global.com/greece/southafrica

SWIM­MING TOUR COST

The hol­i­day in Mathraki costs from R13 078 and in­cludes ac­com­mo­da­tion, break­fast, lunch and guided swims as­sisted by safety boats, plus you get a SwimQuest dry bag and swim­ming cap. Din­ner, drinks and extras are for your own ac­count but to make mat­ters sim­ple, SwimQuest col­lects R1 722 from each per­son to cover din­ners for the en­tire week. While SwimQuest ad­justs the swims ac­cord­ing to com­pe­tency, you should be able to com­fort­ably swim a kilo­me­tre to sign up. SwimQuest also of­fers swim­ming hol­i­days in Croa­tia, Italy, the Mal­dives, Egypt and even the Arc­tic Cir­cle. swimquest.uk.com

STAY HERE

Corfu Par­adise Mathraki is the only ho­tel on Mathraki. Ac­com­mo­da­tion is sim­ple and com­fort­able and the beach is 10 me­tres from the ho­tel. Opt for the up­stairs sea-fac­ing double room, which has doors that open onto a large shared ter­race and views of the ocean. From R449 per double room, ex­clud­ing break­fast. cor­fupar­adise.com

DO THIS

Walk to Api­dies har­bour. About 1,5km from Corfu Par­adise Mathraki, you’ll take in the scent of wild herbs and pine be­fore cool­ing off with a dip off the jetty. Sip a beer in the vinedap­pled court­yard at the small bar next to the tiny St Spiri­don church. It’s best to phone ahead (a ho­tel staff mem­ber will do this for you) to ask Chris­tos to open up. The church con­tains sev­eral chan­de­liers with en­graved metal tags at­tached in mem­ory of parish­ioners. Snorkel around the rocks of the old pier. The area is to the right of the ho­tel (if you’re look­ing out to sea). You’ll spot a range of fish – most quite small – and, if you’re lucky, a tur­tle or two. EAT HERE Dol­phins Restau­rant is at Mathraki’s main port of Plakes, and its large ter­race is a great sun­downer spot. Meals are gen­er­ous and hearty, served by ami­able owner Kostas Souk­eras. A three-course din­ner (meze starters, mains and dessert) plus wine is about R270 pp. Find it on Face­book. Le­vante Tav­erna, perched on a hill above the har­bour, has in­cred­i­ble views across the sea to Corfu. Own­ers Jimmy and Ta­soula Kat­e­chis lived in New York for 27 years and re­cently re­turned to the is­land. Bar­be­cued fresh fish and meat can be made to or­der and veg­e­tar­i­ans will be spoilt for choice by the myr­iad meze of­fer­ings. Find it on Face­book. Portofino is a homely tavern on the seafront in Aril­las, Corfu, serv­ing Greek dishes. De­spite emerg­ing from the sea af­ter our swim look­ing like sucked mango pips, we were wel­comed to a ta­ble on the ter­race where we fell upon the tasty meze. R197 for two.

*Prices and con­ver­sions cor­rect at time of go­ing to print

Do­ing a swim­ming hol­i­day al­lows you to ex­plore an area’s un­der­wa­ter beauty.

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