There is no shortage of beautiful spots to vacation in Greece. And while most of the tourists head for the islands, we prefer to spend our time on the mainland.
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Earlier this year, we finally adventured to the Peloponnese, an unspoiled, wildly beautiful region just 3 hours west of Athens. Tucked away from the world-famous destinations on mainland Greece and the country’s islands, the Peloponnese peninsula is full of hidden gems that have been protected from the overdevelopment that often comes with tourism.
One of these pristine locations is Costa Navarino, a sustainable resort destination that celebrates the region’s cultural history while protecting its precious ecosystems.
Located in the Peloponnese region of Messinia, Costa Navarino sits on the southwestern corner of the peninsula, at the edge of the Ionian Sea. Home to charming coastal villages and impressive archaeological sites, the region of Messinia is a beautiful place to explore, with Costa Navarino being a gem for visitors looking for a relaxing experience.
With a pristine coastline, secluded coves, and 4,500 years of history, Costa Navarino offers much to experience and is a beautiful destination for anyone visiting Greece.
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Sustainability of the Region
Since the resort destination was first established, sustainability has been at the heart of every development concept. We absolutely loved how much effort and thought was put into the properties at Costa Navarino.
All development efforts are strongly committed to promoting sustainable tourism that protects the natural environment and communities in the region.
As part of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, Costa Navarino is committed to eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging by 2025, and the resorts have set a target to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Resorts have been designed with building materials that reduce energy consumption and increasingly rely on renewable energy. In fact, Costa Navarino is home to Europe’s largest geothermal energy system of underground pipes!
Things to do in Costa Navarino
We spent 4 days exploring Costa Navarino in the Peloponnese and discovered a lot to keep us busy in this beautiful destination. Here are just a few of our top things to do in Costa Navarino.
1. Visit the beautiful Voidokilia Beach.
Located a 15-minute drive south of the resorts of Romanos and about 25 minutes north of Pylos is the iconic Voidokilia Beach. This beach lines a semicircular cove guarded by rock formations that give it the famous Greek omega shape that it is known for.
The protected cove has shallow, calm, crystal-clear water and fine, golden sand – perfect for a relaxing afternoon. Since this beach is protected from development and anything that disrupts the ecosystem and natural beauty, there are no on-site amenities. So be sure to bring drinks, food, towels, and anything else to make your visit comfortable.
There is a cave at the far end of the beach, which you can reach by following a short but steep trail up (more on that later in the article). The spot at the top offers great views of the omega-shaped beach.
2. Explore the Ruins of Ancient Messini
Located about 1.5 hours from Costa Navarino, the ruins of Ancient Messini are a perfect destination for a road trip. At over 2,000 years old, this is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Greece, and it has been UNESCO-listed in recent years.
At these ancient ruins, you’ll see a massive, well-preserved stadium, an agora, a temple, and a large theatre. You’ll learn the history of Ancient Messini and how it was built on an even older site with ties to mythical Zeus!
Operating hours and admission prices vary according to the season, so check the website beforehand. Admission is €5 during the winter and €10 during the summer season, and you can buy e-tickets ahead of time.
3. Visit the Picturesque Town of Pylos
Home to several luxury resorts in Costa Navarino, Pylos’s beautiful and ancient town is spread across a sea-facing slope, offering stunning views of the Ionian Sea and Navarino Bay below.
Once a critical Mycenaean Bronze Age city, Pylos has over 3,000 years of history, and the town has some fantastic ancient ruins open to visitors. The most impressive site is the New Castle of Pylos or Niokastro. Even if you aren’t much of a history buff, the views from this 16th-century fortress are breathtaking – this spot is worth visiting.
4. Spend Time Outdoors
Happy to report that you don’t have to go far for an outdoor adventure in Costa Navarino. The area is full of breathtaking landscapes. How you experience the area’s natural beauty is up to you. There are challenging hikes, leisurely bike tours, and educational tours available.
Go on a Hike
For a scenic hike, you don’t have to travel far; consider the trek up to King Nestor’s cave and the Old Navarino Castle. These landmarks overlook the gorgeous Voidokilia Beach and serve as vantage points for amazing coast views. You can park north of the beach, hike along the dunes, and then up the hill to the cave and the ancient fortress at the top of the hill.
Take a Cycling Tour
To see more of the countryside, consider joining a cycling tour of the region. We went with Navarino Outdoors, an outfitter on-site at Costa Navarino. They offer guided and self-guided tours with itineraries that pass through villages, olive groves, and gorgeous beaches.
If you are looking for a great trail, we really loved our cycle adventure to Gialova Lagoon, located directly east of Voidokilia Beach. The lagoon is a protected hydro biotops home to many rare species. Home to over 250 bird species, Gialova Lagoon is a birdwatcher’s paradise, and the Greek Ornithological Society offers educational tours of the lagoon’s different ecosystems.
5. Get on the Water
Thrill seekers and watersports enthusiasts have plenty of activities, and arrangements can be made through Navarino Watersports by Moraitis.
Based in the W Costa Navarino resort, this watersports hub offers adventures in SUP, windsurfing, and more. SUP, in particular, is a great way to enjoy the water while getting a fantastic view of the coastline. We rented one of their giant 6-person SUP boards and had a blast for a few hours on the water. Bring drinks, snacks and make a day out of it! Just don’t forget to pack reef-safe sunscreen!
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6. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Being one of Greece’s most agriculturally fertile regions, Messinia offers unparalleled produce, fresh seafood, and traditionally made cheeses.
The farm-to-table way of eating never really went away here, and even the large resorts have made special efforts to ensure their ingredients are locally sourced or grown right there on the resort grounds.
While it’s convenient to eat at the resort’s amazing restaurants, don’t miss out on the local tavernas’ regional specialties and traditional dishes.
We had an incredible meal at Poseidonia Restaurant in Pylos. Their fresh seafood and traditional Greek dishes prepared with amazing local produce made for the perfect meal in a charming seaside setting.
Another amazing beachfront restaurant is Barbouni, which is part of The Westin Resort. Located at Navarino Dunes Beach, Barbouni specializes in freshly caught seafood and Greek dishes made with local olive oil, organic vegetables, and traditional cheeses. Don’t miss a chance to check out the unique restaurant design, with a “live” ceiling that has become Instagram famous.
Located by the Navarino Watersports Centre at W Costa Navarino, Green Pepper Restaurant is another great spot at Costa Navarino. This restaurant specializes in wholesome plant-based dishes made with locally sourced produce.
7. Relax and Rejuvenate in Luxury Resorts and Spas
Award-winning Anazoe Spa in The Westin Resort is famous for its signature oleotherapy treatments, which are based on traditional Greek health and beauty treatments and incorporate the region’s amazing, healthful olive oil. Their treatments use organically grown herbs from the spa’s own garden!
Away Spa, located in the W Costa Navarino, on the other hand, is known for its excellent detox treatments and pampering services like facials and mani-pedis. This wellness spa provides more of a social experience for their guests, much like the traditional spas of Ancient Greece.
8. Spend the Day Sailing
For a unique, personalized experience, consider getting on the water. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Costa Navarino and in Greece in general. Literally, no trip to Greece would be complete for us without spending at least a day on a boat.
During this visit, we hopped aboard Alegria 47, a beautiful private catamaran, and spent an afternoon sailing the waters along Costa Navarino. It’s a great way to access all of the castles, beaches, and seaside villages. You can charter the catamaran for a few hours or for multiple days and customize your itinerary to suit your needs. You’ll have a highly experienced captain and a private chef to make sure you have a relaxing, safe, and enjoyable sailing trip. Just wait till you try their food!
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Where to Stay
Located 16 km north of Pylos, this beachfront luxury resort has 445 rooms with a variety of price points and features. Many rooms have views of the Ionian Sea, some units have private infinity pools, while premium suites offer private terraces, individual pools, and the best views of the coast.
The resort is home to the award-winning Anazoe Spa, an onsite golf course, and a kid-friendly Aqua Park. An onsite fitness studio is fully equipped with exercise machines, and fitness professionals offer yoga and pilates classes.
Onsite restaurants offer traditional Greek cuisine prepared with Messinia-grown ingredients, vegetables, and herbs grown in the resort’s gardens. The resort also has a cafe and deli that offer regional pastries and locally made cheeses.
Stay here if you are traveling as a family, as there is plenty to do here to keep kids and grown-ups entertained for days!
Located in Pylos, this waterfront luxury resort was constructed with sustainable, locally sourced natural materials. The resort has 246 rooms, suites, and villas with garden front, beachfront, or bay views.
The in-house Watersports Centre offers water adventures, or you can relax at the Away Spa. A large infinity pool is available to all guests, and the resort offers bike and car rentals for those who prefer to create their own adventure.
Five restaurants in the resort offer a variety of dining experiences but are all focused on Messinian-inspired dishes created with the best, locally sourced ingredients. The resort’s beach club comes alive at night and often hosts DJ events and themed shows.
This is a great spot to stay if you are traveling as a couple; you’ll find great amenities and an elevated level of luxury in every corner of this property.
A Luxury Collection Resort, The Romanos is located in the Navarino Dunes area. Located in the Navarino Dunes area, The Romanos is just 25 minutes north of Pylos and a few minutes away from Voidokilia Beach.
This highly rated sustainable resort offers 321 luxury rooms, suites, and villas set in front of 2 golf courses along The Dunes Beach, with some villas offering unobstructed sea views and direct access to the beach.
The onsite Navarino Outdoor Academy offers guided hiking, biking, and climbing tours for the adventurous, while the resort spa specializes in traditional Greek and Far Eastern treatments that promote wellness and relaxation. The fitness center has an indoor lap pool, a large outdoor pool, and a play pool with slides for kids.
Dining options include a wide variety of restaurants offering Mediterranean, pan-Asian, Middle Eastern, and traditional Greek cuisine. The Romanos is a great option for both couples and families.
The Mandarin Oriental is a luxury 5-star hotel located on 2km of beachfront property in Pylos and is the newest of its kind in Costa Navarino.
The recently opened hotel is smaller and more intimate than the large resorts. The Mandarin Oriental has 51 suites and 48 villas with options that include sea views, private pools, and spacious outdoor living areas. The hotel’s world-class spa offers a range of luxurious treatments and specializes in soothing thermal and water treatments.
Guests can access an outdoor swimming pool, an indoor lap pool, and a concierge service that organizes tours and water activities. Onsite wellness experts offer personalized fitness experiences, including yoga classes, tennis coaching, and nutrition advice.
The hotel’s restaurants offer French, Greek, and Eastern Mediterranean cuisine with plant-based dishes, focusing on using only local produce and seafood.