Kastos is a tiny Ionian island that feels like a secret hideaway. In high summer it is a popular stop for yachts navigating the area, bringing life to the tavernas in town including one housed in a renovated windmill.
Sit back and enjoy the views over the Dhragonera Islands from a beach bar in one of the headlands. Or, if you feel the need for creature comforts, head to the gimmicky but excellent cocktail bar in a restored windmill.
1. Port of Kastos
Kastos is one of the lesser-known Ionian islands, but its pristine beaches and simple lifestyle have made it a popular stop for sailors. Located to the south of Kalamos, it is an ideal place to relax and recharge before heading further up the coast to Lefkada and Ithaca.
The island has a small port which is occupied by yachts during the high season. In the village there are a handful of tavernas and bars, including one housed in an old windmill, which doubles as a cafe and offers enviable views over the boats anchored in the bay. A mini-market stocks essentials and there are a few holiday homes with rooms to rent. There is no car rental on the island, but visitors can pitch tents at the beaches (with respect for nature) with a permit obtained from the local authorities.
There are a number of walks around the island, and the east coast features several small coves with pebble beaches and emerald water. You can also visit the Fokotripa cave, which is only accessible from the sea (and if you’re lucky enough you might even see some dolphins). The best way to experience Kastos is by renting a villa with a pool and enjoy a more private vacation experience.
The newest and most luxurious accommodation option on the island is Villa Kastos, which was built in 2011 and offers two floors with a large living area and a private infinity pool. The bedrooms are all en-suite and the kitchen is fully equipped. There are also a number of terraces and balconies for relaxing and dining al fresco.
The island is easily reached by ferry from Mitika on mainland Greece, with services running a few times per week throughout the year. Private boats and yachts are also a popular option. Alternatively, there are daily boat trips from Lefkada. This island is a little further inland than its neighbours and is therefore less impacted by katabatic winds. It is part of the Televoid islands complex and is just a short distance from Ithaca, Kefalonia and Lefkada.
2. Port of Kalamos
A tiny harbour village with a handful of tavernas; deserted bays of transparent blues; the sensation of having it all to yourself: these are some of the things that make Kastos one of the Ionian Islands’ best-kept secrets. Fly to Aktion-Preveza and either take a transfer to Mitikas or a ferry (both around 50mins). From here, it’s just an hour to the island from where you can swim in blissful isolation or explore its marine park by boat.
The main port of Kalamos is a small, sheltered harbour that’s ideal for sailing yachts. It’s well protected from all but E and SE winds, which send in an uncomfortable swell, so choose your anchorage with care. A good choice is the north side of the entrance, where there are plenty of mooring rings and where depths drop off slowly. However, the port can get busy with flotilla boats in summer so try to avoid this area if possible.
This enticing little island is home to a charming village that climbs up the hill behind the port and offers stunning views on its coastline. You’ll also find lots of trails that will take you to secluded beaches and hidden coves. Make sure to bring a swimsuit and snorkeling gear, as there are some amazing beaches and waters to enjoy. It’s also worth trying the local cuisine, which includes fresh seafood and traditional Greek dishes like moussaka and souvlaki. And don’t forget to indulge in the famous baklava and honey, which is produced here.
There are a few apartments to rent by owner in the village, as well as the upscale Aktaion Hotel, which has spacious rooms, a swimming pool and a restaurant serving up delicious Greek food. If you want to go all out, you can hire a luxury villa for your trip through The Thinking Traveller, such as the spectacular hilltop hideaway Villa Gaia, which comes with its own infinity pool and a 4X4 for puttering around in. This is the ultimate luxury castaway experience!
3. Port of Lefkada
The island of Lefkada is famous for its beautiful, turquoise waters. Its picturesque beaches are popular with water sports lovers and the lush, green landscape is ideal for a peaceful getaway. You can find an abundance of hotels and villas in the main towns, but you can also stay on the island’s many small ports and hamlets. These villages offer a more authentic experience, as well as the chance to live just a few steps away from a stunning beach.
For those who prefer a more serene Greek holiday experience, Kastos is the place to stay on the island. Unlike the more popular and developed seaside resorts, this island is less touristy and offers a quieter environment to relax and recharge. You’ll find some boutique hotels and villas in the village, as well as a selection of restaurants, cafes and bars. You can even stay in a private house or apartment and enjoy meals cooked by your own personal chef.
Another option for a tranquil island stay is the small coastal village of Agios Nikitas, which offers luxury villas and boutique hotels. Located on the west coast of the island, it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the region. The town’s architecture is also lovely, with paved alleys and two-story houses.
Other places to stay on the island include the small village of Mikros Gialos, which has a small selection of self-catering apartments and tavernas. It is a great choice for families who want to get away from the noise of other larger resorts. It is a great alternative to Nidri, which is a more touristically developed village and has an array of restaurants, bars and shops.
If you’re looking for a more active and vibrant vacation experience, consider staying in the capital town of Lefkada. It has a lively atmosphere, with plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to choose from. You can also enjoy a variety of activities and excursions in the area. There are also a number of hotels and villas to choose from, including RBO properties.
4. Port of Meganissi
Part of the Tilevoides archipelago, Meganissi has 16 small beaches to discover, all surrounded by crystal clear waters. You won’t find many other tourists on this secluded island, which is much calmer than Lefkada. You can reach Meganissi by ferries that depart from Nydri in Lefkada, with one crossing daily during the summer.
The best hotels to stay in Meganissi are dotted around the two main villages, Spartochori and Vathy. In Vathy, the Azur Retreat hotel offers a luxury experience with views of the island’s fjords, while Keromoussi Seaside and Mistral are popular options for couples. Spartochori’s Esperides Resort is impressive and a great choice for those looking to unwind in the Ionian Sea.
You can also rent a car and explore the island’s rocky coastline or a string of paradisiacal coves, whose waters glow electric blue. Alternatively, a canoeing company comes to the island on demand and can create a personalised itinerary for you to enjoy coastal potterings.
There are some lovely walking paths across the island to take in the landscape, from a hilltop chapel to a secluded beach. Those looking for something a little different can visit the Papanikolis Sea Cave, which is named after the submarine that found shelter there during World War II.
As the name suggests, a holiday on Meganissi is all about relaxing. Sunbathe on the island’s pebbled beaches (be prepared to walk in your swimwear, as there are no facilities such as sunloungers or umbrellas), dine in a taverna and enjoy a truly laid-back Greek holiday.
The tavernas on the island are small and intimate, offering local specialities such as grilled meat dishes and hearty soups. You’ll also find cafes and bars, which transform into nightclubs during the evening. In the centre of the town, there’s a selection of bars that are more upscale and offer a cocktail menu to boot.