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10 amazing things to do at Costa Navarino, Greece
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The gloriously under-the-radar Peloponnese peninsula is one of mainland Greece’s greatest secrets. With more than 4,500 years of history, the region is a blissfully uncrowded alternative to the better-known islands, and along its remote south-western corner lies one of the country’s smartest and most ambitious destinations, Costa Navarino. With two five-star hotels and a handful more on the way, here are the 10 best things to do there.

(1) Check yourself into a fabulous hotel

Couples gravitate towards The Romanos, an elegant retreat stretching out along the olive-studded coastline. Low-slung suites and villas blend cleverly into the natural backdrop, with private plunge pools, chefs on call – and even a helipad. The Westin is livelier and supremely family-friendly, made up of stone houses modelled on traditional Messinian homes and floor-to-ceiling views of the deep blue Ionian sea. It’s home to two kids’ clubs too, which happily scoop up children and take them off to the aqua park or on an archaeological dig, while frazzled parents enjoy the swim-up bar and breezy cabanas lining the pool.

(2) Go olive harvesting and grape picking

The landscape around Costa Navarino is nothing short of spectacular, defined by swathes of emerald-green olive groves standing in uniform rows that seem to stretch out into infinity. The production of olive oil fuels the local economy; lend a hand picking, pressing and tasting the estate’s very own tangy extra-virgin variety. There are vineyards too; oenophiles visiting in autumn can join in with the messy grape-stomping, before kicking back and enjoying a well-earned wine tasting.

(3) Learn to cook traditional Messinian dishes

Get under the skin of Messinian culture with a cooking lesson held in a village home. Using ingredients foraged from the estate’s gardens and the surrounding region, learn to make hilopites (fresh egg noodles), semolina cake and colourful Greek salads, before sitting down to eat with a local family – and singing a few traditional folk songs too.

(4) Get active

Far from your average fly-and-flop beach break, here activities focus on exhilarating multi-generational adventure. There’s a race track for zooming around in go-karts, a racquet academy, bowling alley, water park, football pitches and indoor climbing wall – and two top-notch golf courses. Try Nordic walking or mountain biking – or if you’re feeling particularly brave, cliff-climbing and abseiling, where efforts are rewarded with a cooling dip in the glistening Ionian sea.

(5) Reboot in the sea

Book in for some well-deserved downtime at the slick Anazoe Spa: a 4,000-metre-squared labyrinth of thalassotherapy chambers, ice grottoes, herbal saunas and steam rooms. The deeply spoiling, all-reaching treatment menu incorporates traditional Greek healing remedies. And for a real out-with-nature experience, ask for a treatment under some 1,000-year-old olive trees amid the groves.

(6) Take part in a theatre workshop

Step back to the fifth century BC – the heyday of Greek drama – and find your inner thespian during a workshop in an authentic open-air amphitheatre. Under the guidance of a professional actor, get to grips with the works of great playwrights such as Euripides and Sophocles, and play around with some epic masks and costumes too.

(7) Hit the water

Hugging a half-mile stretch of the Bay of Navarino, the pancake-flat, cerulean waters right on Costa Navarino’s doorstep are perfect for water sports. Try paddle-boarding, wakeboarding, water-skiing, windsurfing, kayaking and sailing, or hire a boat for a day’s cove-hopping along the pretty coastline, with its tiny islets, craggy hills and deserted stone cottages draped in crimson bougainvillaea. This is one of Greece’s best surfing spots too – so head out with a guide to ride the frothy waves.

(8) Immerse yourself in ancient greek philosophy

The Peloponnese were the playground of Ancient Greek civilisation – so this is just the place to brush up on your historical knowledge. Take a walk with a group of academics around the sun-scorched countryside, discussing modern-day ethics and philosophy through the lens of the teachings of Plato, Socrates et al. After dark, gather in the olive groves to listen to Greek myths and folklore, or sign up for an astronomy course, which involves terrific stargazing.

(9) Have a private dinner aboard a yacht

There are more than 13 restaurants here (you’ll find everything from sushi to steak), but the most special place to eat is aboard the sleek Carmen Fontana bobbing gently on the water. Watch the sunset streak the sky pink, then tuck into just-caught lobster lit by flickering lanterns laid out on deck. Or leave the children at the resort’s funky kids’ hotel, Sandcastle, arrange a cocktail party with a gang of friends, and stay onboard to watch the sun come up.

(10) Explore the surrounding region

Head out for a morning wandering around Andromonastiro, a remarkable 13th-century monastery with beautifully preserved ancient frescoes. Or visit the ruins of nearby Methoni Castle, sitting on a rocky outcrop jutting out to sea – it’s one of the largest in the Med. And don’t miss a trip to Voidokilia Beach, shaped like a wibbly circle – it’s regularly voted one of the world’s best. Ask the hotel to pack you off with a picnic and hike up to the top of the hill overlooking the bay for the best vantage point.

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