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Seven years ago, Costa Navarino didn’t exist. But since its completion, it has become one of the top luxury and green destinations in the Mediterranean. Get acquainted with the impressive project to revive an often overlooked region in the Peloponnese: use this guide to Costa Navarino to discover the beautiful area and find useful information and suggestions for what to do while you’re there.
Costa Navarino was the dream of captain, entrepreneur and ship-owner Vassilis ‘Captain Vassilis’ Constantakopoulos. This native of Diavolitsi (the Devil’s Village), a small village north of Kalamata, always wanted to preserve, promote and give back to his homeland. Costa Navarino is therefore a bold project to achieve this end: to offer luxurious yet sustainable options for people the world over to come and discover the unspoiled beauty of Captain Vassilis’ homeland while immersing themselves in the history of the region and offering employment opportunities to the local community. The first resort to be seamlessly integrated into the local landscape, Navarino Dunes (in operation since 2010 and covering 130 hectares), includes two luxury five-star hotels, a signature golf course, a thalassotherapy and spa centre, facilities for children, several gastronomy restaurants, and sport and cultural activities. The second resort, Navarino Bay, which covers over 140 hectares, has been in operation since 2011.
Located in the region of Messinia in the southwest of the Peloponnese, Costa Navarino is easily accessible by road, sea or air. Made up of several different locations, Costa Navarino is located about 50 kilometers away from Kalamata and offers private transportation from the Athens and Kalamata airports to its resorts.
The area includes two five-star hotels – the sleek Westin and the stunning Romanos resorts – as well as sustainable luxury villas. But there is no need to forego the region if you cannot afford these options; nearby picture-perfect villages such as Pylos, Romanos, Methoni, Marathopoli, Gialova and Petalidi offer a plethora of accommodation options at a fraction of the cost.
Zoe Resort is a great hideaway where you can enjoy the beauty and nature of Messinia in a quiet and traditional environment. Comprising a hotel and apartments, a restaurant, and a swimming pool, the complex is located right on the waterfront.
Zoe Resort, Gialova, Messinia, Greece, +30 697 680 7538
Artina Nuovo is a picturesque, eco-friendly hotel in Marathopoli. Located near the harbor and offering a view over Proti Island, a cute little uninhabited island off the coast, the hotel is a gem for relaxing holidays. It features regular hotel rooms as well as apartments and studios.
Artina Nuovo, Marathopoli, Messinia, Greece, +30 2763 061400
The five-star Camvillia Resort, located near Koroni, is a small boutique hotel where you can spend a splendid holiday that you will remember for a long time afterwards. Offering breathtaking views over the sea, clean, elegant facilities and a top-notch restaurant, Camvillia is a great alternative to the resorts nearby.
Camvillia Resort, Vounaria, Koroni, Messinia, Greece, +30 2725 042131
Messinia is a beautiful region, rich with over 4500 years of history, which offers plenty of things to do and see. Of course, Costa Navarino has an extensive roster of cultural activities on offer (olive oil tasting session, traditional cooking lessons, even a philosophical walk) as well as excursions and water sports, but don’t limit yourself. The whole area is beautiful and is ideal for wandering and exploring. From Messinia’s main city of Kalamata to picturesque Kardamyli, with day trips to Gytheio or Olympia, you will surely find a plethora of activities and excursions to discover authentic Messinia.
The site of Ancient Messene is nearby. The ruins of this ancient city are still in good condition and feature fortifications, public spaces and private houses.
Built during the Turkish invasion in 1573, Neokastro is a well-preserved castle fort. It features a citadel, a mosque converted into a church, and a courtyard. There’s even a museum on underwater archaeology, where artefacts found in shipwrecks are on display.
Polilimnio is one of Greece’s best-kept secrets. This verdant paradise of waterfalls and lakes is your best bet to unwind and relax surrounded by nature. You won’t find any better reward than to dive in to the heart-shaped Kardoula Lake after hiking to get there, but don’t linger too long; there about 15 other lakes and waterfalls in the area.
A unique geological formation, Voidokilia Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches you will find in the area. With its unusual omega shape, fine sand and turquoise waters, Voidokilia is perfect for a beach day. Follow the trail off the road and you’ll find King Nestor’s cave, where he hid his cattle according to Greek mythology. Further along, you will find the ruins of Paliokastro and the tomb of Thrasymedes (dating from the Mycenaean period). A stone’s throw from the beach, you will find the stunning Gialova lagoon, a natural ecosystem that’s home to over 270 bird species and impressive local fauna.
Methoni is famous for its castle, which dates from the 7th century BC. Despite the multitude of invaders, the castle has been standing tall for centuries. The Bourtzi, which served as a prison and execution place, is also worth visiting.
Olympia is one of the most famous sites in the area and, lucky for you, it is less than an hour away from Costa Navarino. Walk through the ruins of the ancient stadium where athletes trained and ran, as well as the temples dedicated to the gods Hera and Zeus. Visit the museum to see some unbelievable sculptures and other vestiges of this forgotten past.
Proti Island is a beautiful island just 1.2 kilometers off the coast of the harbor town of Marathopoli. According to Greek mythology, the name comes from the sea god Proteus, son of Poseidon. Today, the island is considered to be of great archaeological importance. Since it’s highly secluded, Proti is an excellent day trip for enjoying some swimming and sunbathing on the magnificent white-sand beach of Vourlia, scuba diving, and hiking or rock-climbing.
While you are in Costa Navarino, there are plenty of options for you concerning where to eat. You can either eat at the resorts’ restaurants or choose to eat in the many tavernas in the communities around the resorts, where you’ll get to experience traditional Messinian cuisine. Whatever you decide, know that you are in for a treat.
Panorama offers a delightful experience. Dine right by the sea while enjoying stunning sunset views. The staff, and owners Kosta and Argiris, are friendly and make you feel welcome. The food is simple but brilliantly executed and the fish is simply divine. You won’t regret one bit of your dinner at Panorama.
Opos Palia (‘Like Old Times’) is a picturesque little taverna on Petrochori square. No fuss here; this humble and unassuming place is warm and authentic. The service is excellent and the menu features local delicacies. Opos Palia is one of those places where everyone feels at home; a refreshing alternative to the most upscale restaurants of the area.
Opos Palia, Petrochori Square, Petrochori, Greece, +30 2723 041098
Modern Messinian cuisine mixed with a laid-back vibe: this is what Namaste is. With plenty of innovative dishes as well as an impressive vegan and vegetarian selection (including an epic vegan burger), you will surely enjoy this little seaside eatery in Gialova.
Namaste, Gialova, Messinia, Greece, +30 2723 023535