What to Do around The Westin Resort, Costa Navarino
Located in southwestern Greece, Messenia sits on the beautiful Ionian Sea, with a rich history stretching to the bronze age. Visit to experience a more authentic side of Greece, with impressive ruins, pristine beaches, and cultural activities like olive harvesting.
Methoni Castle is an impressive fortress—one of the Mediterranean’s biggest—built by the Venetians in the early 13th century. Along with a scenic setting on a rocky outcropping on the Ionian Sea, Methoni Castle has a number of impressive features. Take note of the stone bridge and its 14 arches connecting the site to the mainland, Ottoman bathhouses, ornate main gate above the castle’s moat, enormous battlements, and detailed reliefs and inscriptions. Along with ruins of a medieval town, inside you’ll find the small but beautiful Byzantine church of St. Sophia. The attraction is free to enjoy, and at least an hour is recommended to really explore all the details and hidden spaces of the castle as well as take some waterfront landscape photos. After visiting Methoni Castle, lounge on the nearby beach or take a stroll through the well-preserved village of Methoni.
Located in the historic center of Kalamata, the Archeological Museum of Messenia features excavated antiquities from the area, beginning from prehistoric times. Artifacts are separated into four geographical areas in Messenia, including Kalamata, Messene, Pylia, and Triphylia, and visitors can see tombs, idols, carvings, jewelry, and sacred objects.
Gialova Lagoon is a birder’s paradise, home to over 270 species on account of its shallow waters and abundance of fish and plants. It’s Greece‘s southernmost major wetland and the only place in Europe where you can see the African chameleon. The lagoon is part of the Natura 2000 network, a group of ecological important protected areas in the European Union. Between September and May is the best time to visit Gialova Lagoon, as fall and spring are migration periods and winter is great for spotting eagles, herons, and bitterns. For a guided experience on foot or by bike, Navarino Outdoors offers a variety of Gialova Lagoon tours.
Navarino Dunes, Messinia, Costa Navarino 240 01, Greece
The 40,000-square-foot Anazoe Spa, shared between the Romanos and the Westin hotels in the Costa Navarino resort, created its oil-based remedies from the prescriptions archaeologists discovered inscribed in clay in the nearby ruins of Nestor’s palace. Services incorporate Anazoe’s anti-inflammatory massage oil, made from sweet almonds, and olives grown on the property. Costa Navarino, 30/272-309-7000. This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue.
Paleokastro 831 00, Greece
Also known as Old Navarino Castle, Paleokastro—built by the Frankish ruler Nicholas II de St. Omer around 1278—is located above Voidokila Beach in Messinia’s Mediterranean area. Make sure to bring your camera, as a trek to the castle awards panoramic views of the Ionian Sea, the city of Pylos, Voidokilia Bay, the Romanou-Petrochori beaches, Gialova Divari lagoon, the olive tree-lined Peloponnesian Hills, the Sykias chanel, Sphacteria island, and Navarino Bay. When hiking, you’ll be taking the same path as you would to reach Nestor’s Cave, a popular cave in Greek mythology.
Often described as a Greek paradise, the Polilimnio Waterfalls in Polilimnio Gorge offer something different from Messenia’s usual beaches. Visitors are immersed in a scene of lush greenery, gushing cascades, and green lakes filled with fresh-water crabs perfect for a relaxing dip. And if you’re adventurous, cliff diving is also an option at the highest and deepest of the pools. The hike to the Polilimnio Waterfalls takes about an hour and a half, with the trailhead beginning in Haravgi Village. Follow the paved road until it turns into dirt and you’ll eventually come to a car park at the start of the trail. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes, as the ground can be uneven or slippery—especially after it rains—in some sections. For a guided experience, Navarino Outdoors offers an Ancient Messene & Polilimnio Falls Excursion where you’ll explore the area’s historical stadium and theater; eat traditional Greek food; and visit the beautiful Polilimnio Waterfalls.
Proti, Gargaliani, Greece
Just a mile off Messinia’s coast is the beautiful Proti Island, which is said to resemble a crocodile in shape, and is a haven for history buffs. On land, you’ll find archeological sites and ruins from ancient temples and citadels. Additionally, Proti Island is great for diving due to its clear visibility, 15 dive sits and mix of reef, cave, wall, wreck, canyon, and drift diving. As you swim through turquoise Mediterranean waters, keep your eyes peeled for blue-spotted rays, painted combers, damselfish, sea turtles, and myriad colorful corals and sponges. One company that can take you diving off Proti Island is Navarino Sea by Aqua Divers Club, a Padi Five-Star IDC Resort.
Navarino Dunes Costa Navarino, Gargaliani 240 01, Greece
Through The Westin Resort Costa Navarino, guests can learn the art of Messenian cooking during a Messenian Cooking Class. Taking place in a village home in the scenic town of Pylos, the hands-on experience educates guests on local cooking styles and techniques, as well as how to prepare their own dishes using local, organic, fresh ingredients. You’ll prepare a multi-course dinner using age-old family recipes, which you’ll get to eat over conversation with new friends. Check their events calendar for specific dates and times or inquire when booking.
Pilos 240 01, Greece
In Greek mythology, Heracles slew all the sons of the King of Pylos except Nestor, who became king of Pylos himself. Nestor appears as a sage elder in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, expounding on how things were really tough back in his day. If you visit Voidokilia Beach, about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from Pylos, you can take a 15-minute walk to see Nestor’s Cave. First, enjoy your time on the beach, which is renowned for its natural beauty. Then climb over the dunes at the beach’s southwest end and follow the hillside path to the cave, which sits just below the ruins of the Paleo Kastro, the old Pylos castle. As legend has it, this cave is where Hermes hid the 50 cattle he stole from Apollo. The trip is worth it for the views alone: The higher you go, the more you’ll see, as the panorama takes in Voidokilia Bay, the Gialova lagoon, the Bay of Navarino, the Peloponnesian hills and the city of Pylos.
Pilos 240 01, Greece
Located in Messinia’s Mediterranean area, this popular beach is most well-known for its distinct “omega” shape. Locals and visitors come here to lap up the waves, admire the dunes, sunbathe on soft sand, hike, and bird watch. Other attractions located above the beach include Nestor’s Cave, the ruins of Old Navarino Castle, and the tomb of Thrasymedes (Mycenaean period). As you climb, you’ll enjoy aerial views of the Divari Lagoon of Gialova, Navarino Bay, and the olive tree-littered Peloponnesian Hills. Interestingly, Voidokilia Beach is believed to be the place mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, where Telemachus (son of Odysseus and Penelope in Greek mythology) was greeted by King Nestor—who is thought to have used the beach as a port during ancient times—when searching for his father. For a guided experience, Navarino Outdoors offers a bike tour of the beautiful Voidokilia, with time to swim and enjoy views of Gialova Lagoon.
Dio-Olympos 270 65, Greece
Even the most experienced visitor of ancient ruins has to think Olympia is pretty cool. To walk beneath the arched entrance to the original Olympic stadium? How can you not take your place at the ancient starting line as if you’re about to sprint in front of thousands of cheering fans? In addition to the stadium you’ve got many more buildings, including the impressive temples to Zeus and Hera. Because we still celebrate the Olympics today, this site had more impact on me. It helped me connect the dots from the present to the past more directly. For that reason alone, I found it worth visiting. The museum is also full of treasures. The most famous is the statue of Hermes, which is beautiful, but I was also struck by the collection of small carvings of animals they’ve found at the site, votive offerings that show that Olympia had been a place of pilgrimage for centuries even before the Olympic games began.
The recreational park, located at The Westin Resort Costa Navarino, is filled with fun family-friendly things to do. The park is divided into four sections: An aquatics area, a playground, an indoor sports facility, and a game-infused restaurant. At the Aqua Park you’ll find a pool, three slides, lounge chairs and wacky sprinklers, while the playground allows children to test their physical capabilities through rope and climbing challenging. For those wanting to play sports, indoors you’ll find basketball, badminton, tennis, and volleyball. Visiting the Recreational Park’s American Diner doesn’t just mean delicious food, but also bowling, pool, video games, and a movie theater. Note: This attraction is open only to guests staying at The Westin Resort Costa Navarino or The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort.