I think Naxos would be the best island for you: incredible beaches, wonderful villages, great restaurants, and some very good hotels (though I don’t think I’d go so far as to call them hip – but nice, for sure). The farther south you go from Naxos Town the quieter the beaches get – so keep going to find the balance you prefer. If you want an island with a little more hip but beaches not quite as perfect then try Paros. If you want to err on the quieter and idyllic side then Antiparos or Ikaria.
I think it depends on where you live when it comes to expensive holidays, and what sort of accomodation you want. I’m from London and went to the Maldives in oct 2010 2 wks all Inc, £1150. Which was a bargin as previous years I been to Spain spending over £100 day on food and drink etc. I went to the addu atoll on the island of gan which is the most southern chain of islands. The hotel was everything I could have dreamed of, it wasn’t posh or extravergant but who cares when ya in the Maldives. Another great reason to go to the addu atoll is that when the British were there they built bridges and causeways connecting the south and west islands which means u can get on a bike and go and meet the locals, they were so friendly and I recomend the addu atoll to anyone !!!!!
Yes, I would agree that 8 or 9 days is too long for Naxos – unless you’re happy sitting at the beach for several of those days. But if you’re looking to be semi-active and explore then you’d be best to add Paros and spend 4/5 days on each. Crete, on the other hand, would be perfect for an 8/9 day road trip. Start in Heraklion (where the ferry arrives from Santorini) head east and then south and finally ending up in the western town of Chania where you can fly up home from.
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Be cautious with Santorini and kids. Some hotels don’t do kids (check carefully) and not all hotels are suitable for kids along the caldera lip. Many steps, confined spaces and other guests who don’t actually want to hear kids … Here’s an idea – look for a child-friendly hotel (perhaps on the beach at Perissá) and base yourself where the kids will like it and then take them to the caldera scene. There are a couple of child-friendly hotels on the Caldera, but they get booked very early in the year.