Category: Extreme & adventure sports

Top beach, golf, diving and other outdoor activity attractions near Marathopoli


Proti Island

Located just one nautical mile from the town of Marathopoli in southwestern Messenia, Proti Island is a popular day trip destination for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, rock climbing, cliff jumping and trekking. This aerial photo of Proti Island is from the website for the Artina hotels in Marathopoli.


Lagouvardos, shown in this aerial video by Giannis Mpantes, is a long golden sand beach less than 3 kilometers from Marathopoli. It’s considered one of the top surfing spots in Greece, and also attracts enthusiasts of windsurfing, SUP, canoeing and other watersports. 


Surf’s up!: In a recent post I noted that the quiet, laid-back town of Marathopoli is an ideal base for travellers wishing to explore Methoni, Pylos, Navarino, Voidokilia and other popular places in the Messenian region of the southwestern Peloponnese. 

Even closer to the town are two noteworthy destinations that draw active travellers seeking scenic spots for outdoor sports activities such as swimming, surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, rock climbing, trekking and fishing.

Uninhabited Proti Island, which dominates sea views from the town, is approximately one nautical mile away and can be accessed in summer on boat trips from Marathopoli harbour.  The tours take passengers to secluded coves, including Grammeno Bay,  and stop at picturesque Vourlia beach for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling or jumping into the sea from rocks and ledges along the rugged coast. 


This aerial video of a boat trip to Vourlia beach on Proti island is from the website for Proti Cruises, which offers a variety of daily “mini cruise” excursions from Marathopoli


Proti Island monastery

The Monastery of the Assumption of Gorgopigi is one of the sights that hikers might encounter while walking some of the trails on Proti Island. This photo appears on the websites for Lagouvardos Apartments and other Marathopoli-area businesses.



Trekkers can explore Proti Island on three designated hiking routes, while rock climbers can test their skills on the challenging cliffs and coastal rock formations. Fishing trips and sunset tours also are available.

For those curious to see what lies beneath the waves, Ionian Dive Center offers scuba diving excursions to such island sites as the Anouar shipwreck in Vourlia Bay, the Tiganakia wall and cavern, the Blue Hole cavern with stalactites, Callens Valley and the  Beacon Cove.


This video by Ionian Dive Center will take you to the Blue Hole, one of the sights that scuba divers could explore during excursions to Proti Island


Lagouvardas beach

This photo from the official Marathopoli tourism website shows an aerial view of the long strip of golden sand at Lagouvardos beach


Lagouvardos Beach is only 3 kilometers from Marathopoli so it can easily be reached by car, bicycle or even walking. The Culture Trip website has included Lagouvardos on its list of The Best Surfing Spots in Greece, while travel publications and online guides regularly recommend the beach for windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), swimming, canoeing and other watersports. Equipment rentals and lessons are available from the Beach Break surf club at Lagouvardos.

For beach lovers and watersports fans who don’t mind driving a little farther afield, some of Messenia’s most beautiful and world-famous beaches — including Vromoneri, Mati, Romanos, Golden Sands Divari, and the incomparable Voidokilia — are situated within a span of just 7 to 15 kilometers. 


Vromoneri Beach

Just 7 kilometers from Marathopoli is Vromoneri beach, seen in an image from


Located about 9 km from Marathopoli is gorgeous Mati beach, seen in this aerial video by KOABeach Pool Bar


Additionally, the Marathopoli area is ideal for bicycling and mountain biking, while two globally renowned 18-hole courses at nearby Costa Navarino offer golfers the opportunity to tee off in spectacular settings.


Dunes Golf Course at Navarino

Award-winning world-class links await golf enthusiasts at Costa Navarino, just 13 km from Marathopoli. The green pictured above is on The Dunes Course, while the one below is on The Bay Course. Both images are from the Costa Navarino Facebook page.


Bay Course golf course at Navarino

More stunning photos and extensive information about the two golf resorts can be found in the golf section of the Costa Navarino website.

Top places to visit for a winter holiday in Greece


Arachova Greece

The alpine town of Arachova in Central Greece, seen during our visit in June 2017. The website Greece Is has ranked Arachova one of the country’s Top 10 places to visit in wintertime 


Off season delights: Are you trying to pick a place to visit for a unique winter getaway? Have you considered going to Greece?

If you’re like many of the people reading this post, you probably picture Greece only as a summer destination, primarily because of the immense popularity of its world-famous beach-blessed islands.

However, Greece is more than just islands and beaches — it’s a year-round travel destination with activities and attractions that appeal to everyone, from outdoor sports enthusiasts, to foodies, to history buffs, nature lovers and more.

As for what makes Greece special during the off-season winter months, here’s a nicely succinct description by one of my favourite food, culture and travel publications,  Greece Is:

“Winter is the time to swap the sandals for hiking boots, and the cold beachside beer for a brandy or warm rakomelo by the fireplace. Hearty, slow-cooked stews replace light summertime salads, and a whole host of different seasonal products begin to appear: wild mushrooms, juicy oranges, fat chestnuts. This is a time to experience a different sort of Greece – one of rivers, mountains and glorious natural landscapes as yet undiscovered by mass tourism. One that is emptier, wilder but also comforting in its own way, insulated from the rush and chaos of the modern world.” 

Although there are scores of places in Greece that would be wonderful to visit in the off-season, Greece Is compiled this list of The Top 10 places to visit in Greece in winter:

♦ Zagori

♦  Arachova

♦  Kalavryta

♦  Meteora

♦  Tzoumerka

♦  Metsovo

♦  Loutraki – Pella

♦  the mountains of Corinth

♦  Pilio (also known as Pelion), and

♦  the mountains of Arcadia

What I particularly like about the Greece Is Top 10 list is that it includes descriptions of each destination or area, and outlines the winter activities that are most appealing at each place. The listing also includes links to additional insightful articles and practical information about each location, as well as photo galleries. I found it a great starting-point for researching a trip to Greece not only in winter (though that’s the focus of the ranking), but really for any time of year — all the destinations would be marvellous to visit in spring, summer or fall, as well.

To get some Greece travel inspiration for yourself, click here to read the full article.



Kalymnos keeps calling


Kalymnos summer 2016 (above) and Kalymnos island (below) are short videos that spotlight sights, scenery and summer activities on the Dodecanese island famous for its sponge fishing past and its present popularity as one of the world’s premier rock climbing destinations


Extra enticement: There are times I’m convinced that somebody in Greece is secretly monitoring my email and text communications so they can plant my social media pages with photos, news and videos about places mentioned in my conversations. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I have chatted with or messaged people about specific areas in Greece, only to see posts about those destinations suddenly appear on my Facebook page or Twitter feed soon afterward.

It happened again this week after a friend texted to ask if I have been to Kalymnos, which she has been considering for an island hopping holiday in the Dodecanese this year. I haven’t been there yet, but I was able to refer her to Kalymnos rocks!, a post I published last year to showcase a video that four young Scottish rock climbers made when they visited Kalymnos to test their skills on its world-famous cliffs. Exhilarating landscapes and scenery in the 4-minute-long film convinced me that Kalymnos is just the kind of island my partner and I would thoroughly enjoy — so I promptly added it to our travel bucket list.



Mere days after the text chat with my friend, two more Kalymnos videos curiously appeared in the news feed for the MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page, no doubt to tempt and tease me into wanting to visit the island even more. Sponsored by the Kalymnian Union of Attica, both clips were produced late last summer and show even more island sights and scenes than the fun rock-climbing film I previously shared on the blog. Since I have found myself contemplating a future trip to Kalymnos once again, I am sharing the clips here for the benefit of any readers who may be planning to spend some time on the island this summer.

Meanwhile, in text messages a few days ago, my friend and I discussed Kefalonia and Lefkada, as well as some destinations in mainland Greece. Sure enough, my social media feeds quickly filled with images and information about both islands and the other places we had discussed. Spooky? Absolutely! But maybe it’s just a goodhearted online spy who is simply trying to assist with my holiday travel planning. Whether it’s purely coincidental or not, don’t be surprised if I start blogging about how much I would like to see Kefalonia, Lefkada and certain other places this summer!

In the meantime, have a look at Kalymnos to see if it should be on your own Greek holiday bucket list.



Kalymnos rocks!


Marvellous mountain & coastal scenery plays a starring role in Kalymnos, an exhilarating rock climbing video that film maker Kieran Duncan shot on the rugged Dodecanese island last year


Sheer excitement: I’ve had Kalymnos on my mind all week after watching a splendid short video that was shot on the island by Kieran Duncan, an adventurous film maker from Scotland.

Duncan’s nearly 4-minute-long film follows four young Scots who visit Kalymnos to test their skills at climbing some of its world-famous mountain cliffs and rock formations. Besides exhilarating and spine-tingling scenes of the lads scaling perilously steep rock walls, the film showcases the island’s marvellous mountain and coastal scenery, and gives viewers an impression of what it’s actually like to drive around the island. It also includes underwater scenes from a scuba diving session, and shows several spectacular sunsets.




I haven’t set foot on Kalymnos yet, but I have seen parts of its coast as well as its main port town, Pothia, during a ferry ride from Kos to Patmos in 2010.  At the time, I knew little about the island, apart from being vaguely aware of its long and storied history of sponge diving. I later learned that Kalymnos is nowadays more noteworthy as a challenging rock climbing destination for adventure sports enthusiasts from around the world.

I haven’t done any rock climbing since I was a kid, and wouldn’t plan a holiday in Greece just to give it another try. But after discovering Duncan’s film earlier this week, I couldn’t get the captivating Kalymnos scenery out of my head. From quick online research, I Iearned that the island offers excellent hiking opportunities in addition to its popular climbing, diving and water sports activities. Since my partner and I are avid Greek island walkers, this information instantly made Kalymnos even more appealing as a destination for us to include on a future island-hopping trip in the Dodecanese.

A village on Kalymnos seen in photo from Discover Greece

This photo, from the Kalymnos page of the Discover Greece website, captures quintessential Greek island scenery — the deep blue sea, a beach, a village, mountains and a blue-domed church


But what really “sold” me on Kalymnos were comments Duncan included on the Vimeo page for his film

“4 pale Scots went to Greece in search of some world class rock climbing, but found so much more!” he wrote.  “The island’s incredible presence, locals, food, scenery, and adventurous opportunities make it one of my favourite destinations yet. I hope this film will inspire you to check it out, you won’t regret it!”

Duncan’s film has certainly encouraged me to consider travelling to Kalymnos sometime. If his video has similarly inspired you, here are a few websites to bookmark for future reference and trip planning assistance:

Kalymnos — The real island experience is the official tourist website operated by the Municipality of Kalymnos. It features dozens of photos along with helpful information about the island’s history, arts and culture, traditional products, places to visit, and sports activities. 

Kalymnos Info is a travel guide loaded with details about activities, accommodations, dining, excursions, transportation, and more.

Climb Kalymnos is an excellent online resource and practical guide for rock climbing enthusiasts, with a climbing route database and regular news updates.

Kalymnos Climbing is a commercial site that offers guided rock climbing and climbing courses on Kalymnos. It has a dedicated section describing available hiking and trekking holidays on the island.

♦ The Kalymnos page on the Discover Greece travel portal lists island highlights and must-see attractions, and includes a number of beautiful photos. 

♦  Diving the Skafandro suit, by Sandra Hendrikse and André Merks, is a fascinating article about the rise and decline of the island’s historic sponge fishing business.


Pothia the main port of Kalymnos island

A mountain looms large behind Pothia, the main port of Kalymnos island. I snapped this photo during a brief ferry stop in May 2010, when we were travelling from Kos to Patmos.