Whether you are interested in exploring rocky shores or the underwater world and shipwrecks, rock climbing at Proti island, sailing Sfaktiria in Navarino bay, bird watching in Gialova or simply laying and strolling along the sandy beaches, or relaxing in a village square, Messinia is a diverse destination.
Lagouvardos is a large sandy beach surrounded by pine trees and mountainous background. Surf lessons are possible here, as well as canoeing out of the bay to sail the beautiful waters for snorkeling, fishing or for relaxing. While it is a summer paradise, for surfer lovers is a favorite place to visit also during wintertime.
Barlas is a picturesque sandy and rocky beach surrounded by cliffs, caves and small coves. It is great for snorkeling and fishing.
Vromoneri is sheltered little bay with thermal springs gushing out from the rocks. It is nice for snorkeling around the cliffs and fishing.
Golden Coast is the longest beach of the area with nice golden sand. Locals call it also Mati. Here you will always find a remote spot to swim. It is also a nest place for the loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta).
Romanos, also called Glyfadaki, is located near the homonym village. It is a long beach with fine sand while close to the next village is located Petrochori beach surrounded by many small bays one next to another.
Voidokilia is a large semi-circular bay with blue-green shallow waters and fine golden sand. It is surrounded by sand dunes and is sheltered by steep cliffs at the edges. A wonderful way to escape the sun can be a short hike up the hill to Nestor’s cave and the old castle of Pylos, Palaiokastro. At the other side of Voidokilia over the hill, lies the ruins of a vaulted tomb attributed to Thrasymedes, son of Nestor.
Divari sandy beach stretches along for 2km into Navarino bay separating its sea waters from the lagoon. It has shallow calm waters with fine golden sand. From there you can climb up to Palaiokastro or take an evening stroll to the Gialova lagoon.
In the Navarino bay lies the small island of Sfaktiria, associated with major historical events from 425 B.C., and the islets of Fanari and Marathonisi, while off the southwest coast you can sail the Messinian Oinouses island complex. They are uninhabited with mostly low vegetation, a protected strawberry tree (arbutus) forest that reach 12m height and is more than 10.000 years old, kri-kri goats, subspecies of mouflon sheeps and many bird species.
An underwater gorge (5.267m), the deepest point of the Mediterranean is situated southwest of the islands.
Neda has its springs close to the village of Neda in mountain Lykaion, the birthplace of Zeus and homeland of Pan. It is a narrow long gorge with different levels of trekking. The best time to visit it shall be the summer months, with most favorable period between end of August and beginning of September since the water can be warmer. In Polilimnio, after a short hike wherever you end up it is amazing.
Divari lagoon of Gialova is a natural wetland characterized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and part of the Natura 2000 area -protected for its rich and various fauna, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and for the flora. Thousands of birds (egrets and herons, flamingos, cormorants, eagles, etc.) flying to Africa in autumn and returning in spring to stopover, while many species overwinter at the lagoon. It is a small area where you can spot most of the birds.
The best period for observation is from September till May, especially from the beginning of September for the king of the lagoon, the osprey. Spring migration starts from the end of February. Many species stop by mostly till mid April, while the Glossy Ibises pass the whole spring. Ornithologiki has created an interesting booklet and nature trails with birdwatching hides.
Along the narrow stretch between the lagoon and the sea is also home of the only African chameleon found in Europe.
In short distance from the lagoon, passing through dense vegetation you can rejuvenate yourselves to the cool waters of Schinolaka (or Kalamari); a little lake with a waterfall surrounded by rocks, plane trees which in spring guests many orchid species and wild flowers.
For those who love archaeological sites, apart from the Mycenaean Palace of Nestor on the hill of Ano Eglianos, you can visit the beehive tombs of Chora, Tragana as well as the ones in Peristeria hill (8 km NA of Kyparissia).
On your way to Kyparissia, at the charming old town lies its castle with elements of Mycenaean architecture in the walls, a turret and restorations during Byzantine times.
Pylos hosts two noteworthy castles, the old castle (Palaiokastro), a mix of Frankish and Venetian architectures set on an ancient acropolis, and the new castle (Niokastro). It is a rectangular, two-stored stone building built in 1573 and it houses the museum and the centre for underwater archaeology.
Ancient Messene (Ithome) is one of the most significant cities of the antiquity in terms of its form, size and level of preservation, set in an intact and fertile environment at the foothills of the limestone mass of ithomi. It is a remarkable example of a typical ancient city, having not been destroyed or covered by later settlements.
The site of ancient Olympia, located in short distance (83 km), would be also well-worth taking the time to explore for a lengthy visit.
List of museums
- Archaeological museum of Chora
- Antonopouleion archaeological museum of Pylos
- Museum of Ancient Messene in Mavromati
- Archaeological museum of Messinia
- Benaki archaeological museum of Kalamata
- Historical and focklore museum of Kalamata
- Railway museum of Kalamata
Voidokilia, one of the most photographed beaches of Greece; you could spend a whole day here until the sun sets at the middle of the bay. A spectacular almost-round bay of thin white sand surrounds the crystal-waters of Voidokilia that often lend a blue-green color.
The beach is surrounded by archeological sites and natural parks so no constructions were allowed here; you will find no bar on the beach but there is a space where to park your car because this famous beach always attracts many visitors. However, it is so long that if you walk to its end, you will certainly find yourself alone.
Over its left hill dominated the Old Castle of Navarone that you can visit on foot before the sun sets and on the right hill, you can see a Mycenean tomb and discover a hidden mini-beach with hot springs.