Activity-packed family holidays with Greek beauty and Mediterranean waters. Looking for something that little bit special for your hard-to-please teens? Check out Costa Navarino, Messinia, home to superb, luxury Peloponnese hotels, oodles of land and water sports for the whole family, plus a fascinating culture that can be explored in fun and exciting ways.
Welcoming and natural
The natural landscape of the region includes rugged mountains, secluded bays and vast, pristine, sandy beaches; there are rolling hills carpeted with Kalamata olive groves, meandering rivers, waterfalls and cavernous gorges. This beautiful environment is home to traditional stone houses, many unaltered for centuries, where you’ll find welcoming cafes and charming tavernas.
Take a hike – or a bike!
The Navarino Outdoors program includes bike trekking, which is a fabulous activity for the whole family to enjoy; a guided GPS tour will take you along varied terrain at a pace to suit you all – fine for the youngsters to go ahead here, as tracks are uncrowded and safe. Locals in the area still embrace their ancestral traditions – the history is fascinating – and it is well worth taking an organised tour to learn about the region as you go. A great alternative is a cultural hike which takes you on foot to specific places of interest such as castles, olive groves and vineyards.
If your youngsters are up for a challenge, then introduce them to rock climbing, the area mainland and outlying islands, especially the uninhabited Proti islet, offers a scenic setting for outdoor adventure whilst the indoor climbing wall at Navarino Rocks is an ideal place to find your ‘heel-hooks’ and ‘dynos’!
On the flat
The seaside Dunes Course was opened in 2010. Designed by Bernhard Langer, it offers spectacular sea and river views as well as exciting challenges for all levels of golfer. Each of the 18 holes has multiples sets of trees to allow course length selection, making it ideal for those seeking to improve their game. Children can join in golf classes at the Navarino Golf Academy with their bespoke system - SNAG – Starting New At Golf, this is an ideal opportunity to introduce your youngsters to the sport as well as enabling them to make new friends.
Under the waves
If you and your family fancy a little pirate exploration then head to Navarino Sea by Aqua Divers Club, a PADI 5-star centre where you will learn the skills you’ll need to follow in the ‘flipper-steps’ of the infamous Katoulias on Proti Island – you may even find his elusive treasure there! Courses start with the children’s bubble-maker through to instructor level, and diving in the turquoise waters of the area is another venture that you can all share together; marine life in the area includes the wonderful Caretta Caretta turtle.
Skimming the surface
There is a vast range of water sports to engage you all at Navarino Sea; the mild climate and warm waters here are perfect for sea kayaking and fun rides, family day rounds and visits to surrounding beaches are available for all ages. Stand up paddle-boarding is easy to learn with fun paddles for beginners; a full day trip to Voidokilia is a great day out once you have all found your sea-board-legs.
Ready, Steady, Go in a Kart
If you have a need for speed then the Navarino Speed Experience Park will fit the bill. This high quality course has new four-stroke, 270cc, automatic CRG karts. The park is equipped with a state-of-the-art timekeeping system and your performance will be tracked on a giant screen while you drive – there is even floodlighting for night use. If you dream of F1, then take a seat in the park’s excellent simulators which transport you – quite literally – to F1 tracks all over the world. Whether you’re blazing round the corners for fun, or beating your personal best, you and your budding ‘Buttons’ can quench their thirst for speed here and even if they cannot drive, there are karts for parents and children to share.
Stay and play
Part of the sprawling 2,500 acre village, both The Romanos, a Luxury Collection and The Westin Resort Costa Navarino are sheltered within a network of olive groves and sprawling gardens, offering an unusual sense of seclusion; the powdery golden beach of Navarino Dunes is beautifully unspoilt. Little villages dot the verdant slopes of the region and the horseshoe profile of Voidokilios Beach is roughly 20 minutes away. The vast selection of activities on offer here include pools, a beach club, water sports of every sort and a dizzying collection of land sports, there is also a superbly equipped health club. The central village area incorporates shops, restaurants, a cinema and a theatre – so evenings can be just as entertaining as your energetic days!
Spa it up
Making the use of the region’s natural resources, the award winning Amanzoe Spa uses locally created products in conjunction with specialty treatments to rejuvenate and revitalise your body. Wash away the pains of your pre-holiday work life and bathe in the floating pool to truly immerse in your holiday experience.
The Westin Resort Costa Navarino
The Westin Resort Costa Navarino is a particularly family-focused resort with two levels of children’s facilities and conveniently kid-friendly restaurants. Forget the struggle of separating your children by age and simply take them to the Aqua Park. The zenith of excitement, the park is complete with three slides and a pool and is accessible to all ages! Ethan Hawke stayed at the Westin Costa Navarino during the shooting of Before Midnight. Filming actually took place in the room he stayed in, which can be requested if you ask directly. All impeccably decorated rooms and suites are perfectly modelled on the idea of an old Messinian mansion; carved stone and a clean, bright palette of colour dominate the interiors, while balconies extend your views further to the surrounding verdant hills, the pool area and the shimmering blue sea.
The Romanos, a Luxury Resort
Boutique in style but not compromising on luxury, The Romanos offers rooms and suites that reach all the way up to stately Royal Villas boasting an abundance of space, a private pool and faultless privacy along the beach. While the food is excellently prepared by a team of exceptional chefs, the quirky nuances of Da Luigi steal the limelight. Blend the flavourful dishes of Italian cuisine with the Greek tradition of an outdoor cinema and you end up with your own mid-summer film festival. If you’re looking for the perfect location for your wedding, the Romanos is a particularly attractive option. Walk down the aisle in the magnificent Great Hall, by the scenic pool or on the golf course, surrounded by the verdant olive trees and the Ionian Sea.
Easy to get there – difficult to leave
Kalamata International Airport lands flights from several regional airports as well as London making the region easily accessible, with onward road journeys of just 25/30 miles. Leaving however may be another matter – this precious little region of Greece is a delicious find.