While Greece's famous sun-soaked islands are firmly on the holiday map, Costa Navarino in the heart of the Greek region of Messinia, in the southwest Peloponnese, is largely unspoilt and yet to be discovered. HELLO! Online headed to Costa Navarino to explore more...
Hidden in the region's striking mountains, the area boasts endless olive groves and a stunning coastline, all surrounding the spectacular Bay of Navarino. Renowned for protecting local culture, there's everything from cooking lessons on authentic Greek cuisine to spas using traditional techniques for the ultimate relaxing experience. Home to the luxurious Westin and Romanos resorts, there's everything from activity-packed family holidays to secluded rooms with infinity pools for a romantic getaway.
Scroll below to find out our top 10 favourite things to do when you visit.
1. Enjoy a spa day at the Anazoe Spa
We all enjoy a spot of pampering during the holidays, and the luxurious Anazoe Spa has everything from luscious Messinian salt and honey scrubs to soothing massages so you can truly relax during your stay. One of our favourites was the Aromatherapy Candle Massage – not only do the ranging techniques indirectly relax your muscles, but you get to pick the essential oils and scented candles for a fully personalised experience.
Signature spa treatments €115 for 50 minutes. For full list of treatments head to anazoespa.com
2. Learn to cook traditional Greek cuisine
Foodies will want to try a traditional cooking class, hosted at the home of friendly local women who share their authentic family recipes. Learn to cook everything from pasta to potato dishes, before sitting down to enjoy a full dinner, including world-famous Greek salads. The house also has a balcony with unparalleled views of the bay so make sure to take your camera – you won't want to miss the gorgeous sunset.
Traditional cooking class, €60.
3. Take a boat tour of the Bay of Navarino
For unparalleled views of Costa Navarino's stunning coastline, it's definitely worth taking a boat excursion into the Bay of Navarino. The friendly captains know the Bay inside out and will happily give you a tour of all the points of interest to get a glimpse into Greek history, before stopping to let you take a dip in the cool, crystal clear waters.
(Half day tour with Navarino Sea Yachting at the Bay of Navarino with Motor Yacht 800€/per route or with Sailing boat 750€/per route. Max capacity 10pax)
4. Enjoy a session of olive oil tasting
Costa Navarino is famed for its delicious extra virgin olive oil, and now foodies have the chance to find out everything from how it's harvested to why you should never store it in clear plastic bottles. A local expert will talk you through different oils and how to recognise subtle flavours – if you're in the region during the later months of the year, you can also join in the harvesting of the olives.
Olive oil tasting, €25.
5. Go on a philosophy walk
Follow in the footsteps of great ancient Greek philosophers from Plato to Aristotle, discussing important modern-day issues while basking in the sunshine. The walks begin with a seated group discussion led by a professor under the resort's famous olive trees, before you head for a scenic walk back to the hotel to reflect on what you've talked about.
Philosophy walk, €30.
6. Stay at the luxurious five-star Westin and Romanos resorts
The Westin Resort and Romanos Hotel are the epitome of luxury. The rooms are large breathtaking views of the area, and everything is within walking distance whether you want to head to the Agora plaza for a live concert or want to go for a long lunch at the Barbouni beach restaurant. For ultimate luxury, there are rooms available with private infinity pools and secluded steps right down to the beach. Families may want to try the Westin Resort with its own waterpark for the kids, while couples wanting a romantic getaway may prefer the Romanos.
(Left: Westin Resort lobby, right: Romanos Resort lobby)
7. Explore the local region
Costa Navarino is breathtakingly beautiful with its tropical blue waters and rolling green hills, so it's definitely worth taking the time to explore the local area. Two particularly striking places include Voidokilia beach, which has been named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and the Niokastro medieval castle in Pylos for a touch of Greek history.
8. Sample traditional Greek cuisine
Whatever you're in the mood for, chances are the resorts have the restaurant to cater to your taste. Foodies wanting to try Greek meze specialities should opt for Kafenio restaurant, while the Taverna restaurant offers a wide range of Greek and regional cuisine. For lunch with an ocean view try the Barbouni restaurant – or in the evening head to Flame which offers grill specialities in front of a striking scenic backdrop. These are just some of the options – whatever your cravings, they will be met!
9. Keep the kids busy
There's no doubt that Costa Navarino is a family-friendly place. Not only is there a state-of-the-art waterpark for kids and the Navarino Natural Hall where they can learn all about local wildlife, but there are also various kids' clubs such as Cocoon where parents can leave their little ones for a day of fun activities. One of the highlights is the Sandcastle Club which not only provides a club for your children in the day – parents can leave their kids overnight. Meals are included and children are looked after, and the adorable mini-hotel (room pictured above) makes for an unforgettable experience!
10. Stay in shape with a wide range of sports
For those who love their fitness, the resorts have an endless list of sporting facilities – there's the world-famous golf courses with jaw-dropping views of the region, the racquet academy for tennis and squash fans, bike excursions, swimming pools, a basketball court and even a 1950s-style bowling alley!
Costa Navarino: Rates at the two hotels at Navarino Dunes, start from: The Westin Resort Costa Navarino: from €200, and The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort from €310. To book and for further information on activiites and the resort, visit costanavarino.com. Aegean Airlines offers daily flights from London Heathrow and London Gatwick to Athens. For more information please visit aegeanair.com.