Mani peninsula in southern Greece, just out into the Mediterranean, almost achingly yearning to break free, capturing soul and mind with its untamed, indelible beauty and undeniable allure. It’s a wild and beautiful setting for ancient myths of gods and heroes, and home of the Greek War of Independence (the revolution started here at Areopoli on March 17, 1821). This mountainous region is incredibly beautiful, with its sleepy fishing coves, fortified villages, emerald waters, and captivating sunsets creating a gasp-inducing backdrop. Almost every corner of Mani is surrounded by nature, culture and history, but we will present you the highlights to complement your journey for an authentic holiday experience.
Diros Caves & Beach
Only 3.5 km from Bassa Maina, this unique natural monument is really an underground complex with a subterranean river and exquisite formations of stalactites and stalagmites, formed millions of years ago, inhabited since Neolithic times and not fully explored to this day. The best part is that at some point you explore the caves on a boat with your own experienced guide.
This fishing village, Limeni, is small but such a picturesque place —it’s well worth a stop. It’s famous for its fish taverns and as one of the most beautiful and traditional settlements. It’s also a cultural heritage site, as Limeni was the headquarter and home of Mavromichalis, which played a significant role in the Greek War of Independence. Still proudly stands his restored palace there, a four-storey tower with arched windows that they recount the past glory that Limeni acquired. The village is perfect for swimming as well. Although it doesn’t have a beach, few steps are leading to the crystal blue waters of the sea. Also offers a great variety of water fun experiences. From paddle boards, windsurfs, pedal boats, kayaks to scuba diving lessons and cruising tours you will find all kinds of water sports suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
The word Areopoli means “city of Ares”, the ancient Greek god of war. It’s incredibly scenic, with stone houses and cobblestone alleys. Strolling through the passageways towards the historic church of Taxiarxon you will find tavernas, shops and cafes for romantic walks and authentic tastes. Don’t miss the traditional bakery of Milia, which is the oldest bakery in the entire Peloponnese and has the tastiest delicacies!
This charming harbor town has also a glorious and rich past. As it is reported by Homer, Gytheio was the first refuge of Helen and Paris on their journey to Troy. More specific they spent their first night together in the nearby little island called “Kranai” connected with the mainlaind by a short causeway. It is a beautiful place with pine-trees, a restored tower house, and a marble lighthouse built in 1873, overlooking the gulf towards the Parnon mountain. Gytheio is a perfect place to stop for a stroll. Stop for lunch and chilled ouzo at one of the tavernas along the harbor of Gytheio. They are famous for their perfectly grilled octopus.
In the summer days if you go to Gytheio for a stroll, you can go to Mavrovouni for a swim. It’s awarded with two Blue Flags, about 10 minutes from the harbor and the beach is wide and covered with coarse sand and small pebbles. Caretta caretta turtles also prefer Mavrovouni beach to lay their eggs! For this reason there is a station for the protection of its nests and the newborn.
Gerolimenas, Vathia, Porto Kagio, Cape Tenaro
As you continue from Aeropolis southwards you will soon find the picturesque small coastal village Gerolimenas. The name, which means “Old Harbour”, is thought to derive from the ancient “Ieros Limen, (meaning “Sacred Harbor”). Further south there is Vathia, perched high above the sea, it’s a village with clusters of tower-houses used to be built like this for protective reasons. It looks like a medieval scenery, almost untouched by time. Heading south, the coasts meet between Porto Kagio and Marmari. It’s well worth a stop at both places. Porto Kagio it’s a beautiful seaside village with great history and crystal blue waters and Marmari has two incredible sandy beaches, rare for the rocky coast, ideal for swimming. This journey to the south has the most dramatic and beautiful end, the Cape Tenaro. It’s the southernmost point of mainland Greece and separates the Aegean from the Ionian Sea. The legend says that here is hidden an entrance to Hades, through which Hercules dragged the three-headed dog Cerberus, the beast that guarded the Underworld, as one of his 12 tasks. After a walk of about 40 minutes a lighthouse built in 1822, signals the end of Mani peninsula.
East coast of Mani Skoutari, Kotronas, Alypa
Mani is famous for its shores and the cobalt-blue crystal waters. The magic of nature is part of Mani and every stop is unique, so you can visit at the same day all the beaches on the east coast. This side of Mani is majestic as the mountains drop dramatically straight down into the sea. If you’re seeking sand on this side of the Mani, head first for Skoutari. Kotronas and Alypa are also known for their lovely beaches, made of crystal clear waters and pristine white pebbles.
Kardamili and Foneas Beach
Kardamili is a delightful seaside village. In the Iliad, Homer cites Kardamili as one of the seven cities offered by Agamemnon to Achilles as a condition to rejoin the fight during the Trojan War. The area is filled with beaches and one of them is a wonderful small and graphic beach with emerald green waters called Foneas.“Hidden” at the end of a path between trees, has the characteristic of a large rock separating it into two parts and providing natural shade.
Half day or day cruise from Limeni to Kardamili
This is an amazing opportunity to discover Mani from the sea and sail away in the azure waters of the Mediterranean sea. With this experience you will get the chance to step into the crystal waters of every hidden coast of Mani and spent a memorable day at the sea.
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