Arriving in Kefolonia
It’s mid August and we’re on the car ferry from Zakynthos to Kefalonia, one of the largest and most famous islands of Greece. We arrived at Pesada Port and unfortunately it was a nightmare catching a taxi to Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia. Crowds of people and only three taxis made our arrival less than ideal. One young Italian woman showed her displeasure by screaming, kicking her bag and yelling out, “F@&$ Grecia!”. Sadly, this level of frustration can be expected when you travel to the Greek islands in August. Luckily our hotel sent a taxi to collect us after we sent out a cry for help.
Staying in Argostoli
Staying at the Ionian Plaza Hotel was the right choice. Located in the heart of Argostoli, the Ionian Plaza was clean with modern guest rooms that looked out over the busy main central square. Thousands of locals and tourists promenade each evening in the square and enjoy eating or drinking in the many restaurants and bars that stay open until very late. Finding a vacant table in a restaurant, even at 10:00 pm, can be difficult as the Greeks flood into Kefolonia from the mainland for their holidays in August. How inconvenient!
Costa Costa Beach
A short, fast 6€ taxi ride out of Argostoli is Costa Costa Beach (Makris Gialos), which is stunningly beautiful and has clear, clean, blue water, plenty of golden sand, a huge beach bar and hundreds upon hundreds of sun beds. If you want a quiet day out, well, Costa Costa may not be the place for you in August.
However, if in need of a little free live Greek drama then settle back and watch excited beachgoers scream “Ella!, Ella!” accompanied with frantic hand waving as they select their sun beds, light up their cigarettes and order their frappés (the Greek national drink). Then for the second act there are the handsome young Greek and Italian men with their perfect bodies and suntans strutting their stuff to the raunchy rhythm of chilled out beach music. It’s better than any Greek tragedy you’ll find in a local theatre.
Is August a good time to visit Kefalonia? The weather in August is very hot, dry and sunny, the water is a beautiful temperature but the enormous number of tourists visiting the island at this time of the year spoils what is a truly a gorgeous holiday destination. The simple answer is no, the months of June and September are the best.
Kefalonia is famous for its natural beauty but also for the location of the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Even though the book was set in Fiskado at the tip of Kefalonia the actual filming mainly took place in the cute seaside town of Sami 24 kilometres from Argostoli.
Sami, is a quaint beach village with a host of cafes hugging the port area and is perfect for lunch and an opportunity to take in the brilliant views of where the mountains meet the Ionian sea. Antisamos Beach, a few kilometres away with its white pebbles, fantastic clear water and breathtaking scenery was overrun by hoards of tourists in August making the experience rather unpleasant. However, out of the peak season Antisamos is one of the first-rate beaches in Kefalonia and not to be missed.
Cave of Melissani
Close to Sami is the famous Cave of Melissani. We waited in line almost an hour to see the iridescent blue lake within an ancient cave, and it was well worth it. When the sun light penetrates the roof of the structure during the middle of the day the colour of the blue, blue water was totally mesmerising giving the cave an ethereal feel. When it was our turn to take the short boat ride we glided silently through the first and then into the second chamber, a dark echoing void with many stalactites covered with algae and moss.
The water which fills the cave originates from Argostoli and travels all the way underground (24 klms ?) through the mountains to the Cave of Melissani. The whole experience was breathtaking and not just because of the Greek demi-God we scored as our boat guide.
To the far south of Kefalonia we discovered the charming Skala Beach area. The beach was sensational with the clearest and bluest water you could possibly find anywhere in world. The long strip of sand is well organised with sun beds and restaurants/beach bars which delivered iced frappés and lunch snacks on request. This beach was quiet and relaxing however, very straight, with many mums, dads and kids and loads of loved-up couples.
In the late afternoon we drove a short distance further around the coast to the picturesque village of Poros. The coastline here is stunning with scenic beaches and charming rocky inlets. This is certainly a great place to get away from the August crowds frolicking elsewhere on the island. Apparently there are a couple of nude beaches in this area, but be aware nude sunbathing is illegal in Kefalonia and not really advised, particularly in August.
We felt that we had to leave the best until last when we drove up the west coast to see some of the most magnificent coastal scenes we have experienced in all our travels. The rugged coast with sheer cliffs dropping to magical, candescent blue water was just awe-inspiring.
The jewel in the crown was Myrtos Beach, a beautiful white fine stretch of beach and, from the cliffs above, an image seascape painters only dream of. The radiant blue of the water contrasted against the white of the beach, dotted by colourful umbrellas and spectacular, luxury yachts lurking beyond has to be seen to be believed and left us speechless. For any visitor to Kefalonia, this is a must.
Kefalonia is one of Greece’s most amazing islands but with two provisos, the island is very straight with lots of Greek families and a somewhat older crowd of tourists from other parts of Europe. Try and keep away in the peak times of July and August, otherwise your holiday could take on all the challenges and hardships of a classic Greek odyssey.
Know before you go
- We stayed at the Ionian Plaza Hotel but you can look at other options on Agoda.com
- Pre-book your transfer from the port to your hotel or you could find yourself stranded.
- Go to Myrtos Beach early in the day as in August the beach becomes very crowded and parking is limited.
- Do not visit the Greek Islands in July or August if you want a quiet holiday experience.