Who doesn’t want to wake up to the peaceful beaches of the Greek islands? The waters are so calm and clean and the lakes and gorges of the islands are breathtaking too. Combine all of this Greek wonder into the Melissani Caves on the island of Kefalonia. It is a beautiful underground lake, with the waters as tranquil and blue as the ocean. It is peppered with natural skylights, where the sun’s rays hit the water and cause it to sparkle. The Melissani Caves should definitely be on your travel bucket list.
A history of the caves
The Melissani Caves were only discovered as recently as 1951. It was then a major site for the recovery of artifacts of ancient Greece. It was determined that ancient Greeks believed that the caves were associated with Pan, the god of the wild, and the Nymph Melissani (from which the caves derived their name). As with many of the mythologies, the tale of Pan and Melissani was a tragic one, but that does not detract from the beauty of these caves. The artifacts of the ancient Greeks found in the caves are housed in the Archeological Museum of Argostoli.
Why visit the Melissani Caves?
If the descriptions up to now have not yet captivated your interest, here is a little more. Reaching the caves requires traveling on the river through a natural underground tunnel where you can admire nature in all its beauty in peace and quiet. From there, you reach the big skylight formed by a collapsing of the ceiling during an earthquake in 1953. It is impossible to describe how beautiful the scene is – it looks straight out of a fairytale.
The actual experience
The boat trip to the caves is guided by a local tour guide. The weather is generally quite hot all year round so the beginning of the boat trip works up quite a sweat as you sit in the sun. But when you reach the shade of the underground tunnel, you cool down instantly. The stalactites in the cave drip water onto you as the boat passes underneath – don’t worry, the water is fresh and clean. The tunnel is quite big and very unlikely to make you feel claustrophobic. The dark tunnel builds the suspense for an amazing reveal of the natural skylight, which is well and truly breathtaking.
The guides are very friendly and photography is welcomed and even encouraged, so you can bring those wonderful memories home.
When to visit
The best time of the year to visit is in late summer, when the sun is not too hot, but still bright enough to see all the wonder of the caves. On the day you visit, it is best to go in the late morning, just before midday for the same reasons. This time also tends to be less busy, so that means less waiting time.
Things to visit nearby
The experience is only about half an hour, so you should visit things nearby. The quaint little town of Sami is about a mile from the caves. It has many little harbors where there are both old-fashioned fishing boats and extravagant yachts to admire. There are also a few monasteries nearby to see how the Orthodox monks live and to appreciate their historical beauty.