About Kefalonia beaches
The green, mountainous island of Kefalonia offers unspoilt nature, pine-clad mountains and stunning beaches. This low-key tourist destination rose to fame with the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) based on a book by Louis de Bernieres and starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz. The capital, Argostoli, lies within walking distance of the largest and most commercial resort, purpose-built Lassi, which caters for the package-deal market. The other top resort, Skala, grew up around a fishing village of the same name, and has now extended into a string of low-rise apartments backed by pine trees along the southeast coast. Kefalonia’s main port, Sami, is a bustling though not particularly attractive place, but does offer two interesting caves nearby, plus regular ferries to Patra on the mainland. All the island’s settlements, apart from pretty Fiskardo on the northern tip, where destroyed by a terrible earthquake in 1953, so the majority of buildings are modern concrete structures.
Kefalonia’s most magnificent beach – and one of the loveliest in Greece – is the awe-inspiring Myrtos Bay, on the isolated west coast. Backed by steep, limestone cliffs, this 2km-long (1 mile) strip of shingle gives onto picture-perfect, turquoise water. It remains unspoilt, with facilities limited to a couple of seasonal cafés, plus umbrellas and sunbeds for hire. The busiest bathing areas are in the commercial resort of Lassi, where the twin sand beaches of Makris Gialos and Platis Gialos rent sunbeds and umbrellas by the hour, and the former also has a watersports centre with paddle boats, banana boats, waterskiing and jet-skiing, plus several bustling tavernas. The rather more peaceful resort of Skala has a 2.5km-long (1.5 mile) fine shingle beach backed by pine trees, a scuba-diving centre and an agency offering glass-bottom boat excursions.
Beyond the beach:
Kefalonia’s prettiest village, upmarket Fiskardo, the only settlement to have survived the 1953 earthquake, gives onto a harbour filled with yachts and rimmed by pastel-coloured, 18th-century, Venetian-style buildings. Close by, Assos is a small seaside village on a peninsular with a romantic harbour and authentic taverns. Near Sami, the intense blue waters of Melissani Cave can be visited by boat, while Drogarati Cave is a vast underground hall filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Sports enthusiasts will find opportunities for sailing, sea-kayaking and scuba-diving, while the pine forests of Mount Ainos National Park are great for hiking and mountain biking. Local agencies offer ‘Captain Corelli’ theme tours covering locations from the film.
Kefalonia’s unspoilt beaches are perfect for kids, though few offer special activities. Makris Gialos beach in Lassi is the best equipped, with paddle boats, banana boats, waterskiing and jet-skiing, and there is also a go-cart circuit nearby. Most kids will enjoy exploring Melissani and Drogarati caves, near Sami.
It is possible to make a day trip to the nearby, unspoilt island of Ithaki – there are ferries from Fiskardo and Sami, and private excursions by sailing boat can be arranged from Fiskardo. Greece’s third largest city, Patra, on the mainland, can also be visited by ferry from Sami.
Keflonia’s first and only boutique hotel, the luxurious Emelisse Art Hotel in Fiskardo (www.arthotel.gr/emelisse), is the ultimate bolthole. Set in lush gardens on a small peninsular overlooking the sea, it combines simplicity and style, with two restaurants, two bars, an infinity pool, Jacuzzi, gym and a tennis court.