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An apricot-tinged sky merges into turquoise waters crashing against the craggy coastline and the breeze carries an aromatic cocktail of wood smoke, peonies and cypress trees. The soundscape could be from a soothe-yourself-to-sleep Spotify playlist, if it wasn’t for the squawking chickens and donkey honks. For Thea Parikos, hotel and restaurant owner, these sights and sounds are the backdrop to her evening stroll around Nas, a coastal area of Ikaria, the island she calls home. This particular Greek idyll’s rep may not rival that of all-night-long Mykonos, nor does it have the colour palette that makes Santorini an Instagrammer’s dream. What it does possess is far more coveted: the elixir of youth.

Ikaria is a “blue zone” – one of five global destinations with a disproportionate concentration of centenarians – that is proving significant to scientists trying to figure out whether living a long, healthy life can be reduced to a lifestyle equation. Joining Ikaria in triple-digit significance are the Okinawa region of Japan, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Southern California’s Loma Linda and Sardinia, Italy.

The term “blue zone” was coined in 2004 by scientist Gianni Pes in his research on the aforementioned Italian island, published in

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