By Don Domonkos
Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos chose to create Costa Navarino in the place where he was born. It was a choice made from love, but consider this as well: Messinia makes Costa Navarino what it is. It could not exist elsewhere.
We could compare it to the coming together of an embrace, or to how puzzle pieces fit into each other, or, avoiding the clichés, we could just say that social and environmental sustainability has required Costa Navarino to adapt and to develop as a result of its surroundings.
We couldn’t imagine a better place. More than just a holiday destination, Messinia is an ideal place to live: a culturally rich region where age-old traditions and nature’s bounty bring out some of the fundamental joys of living.
1. Natural Beauty
Part of living in Messinia is living in harmony with nature. One of the Mediterranean’s last unspoilt areas, the region features stunning landscapes that combine the crystalline Ionian Sea with rolling hills covered in olive trees and vineyards and, just a stone’s throw from Costa Navarino, the southernmost major wetland in Greece, the Gialova Lagoon: a biodiversity hotspot in which many species of birds find food and shelter.
For millennia, people in Messinia have taken pride in the beauty of their home. Here, living off the land isn’t just possible; it’s a pleasure.
2. The Ionian
Waking up, the first thing you’ll notice will be the music of the waves, the soundtrack of Messinia. Opening the doors to your veranda, you can smell the sea. In this corner of the southwestern Peloponnese, you can explore the coast for days. Walk barefoot on the beach, just a stone’s throw away from your home, and watch the sunset paint the waves pink and red. Hop on a boat to discover hidden coves and islets that once sheltered pirates and that today host a plethora of wildlife species, enjoy seafood by the shore, and swim in pristine waters.
3. Real Farm to Table
Messinians know from their ancestors that the best food is made using homemade and home-grown products. The local cuisine is a precious legacy from the past, featuring age-old recipes and the farm-to-table approach that marked the food philosophy of Messinia long before the Mediterranean Diet became a popular lifestyle choice around the world. At Costa Navarino, in both the restaurants and the homes, food is made from scratch; salads are made with only the ripest produce from the gardens, and traditional pastas are prepared with artistry amidst clouds of flour in the kitchen. And, of course, cured meats, sausages, cheese and yogurt are all complemented by the star of the region’s cuisine, Messinia’s extra virgin olive oil, and washed down with wine from the local vineyards.
4. The Community
Imagine a place that offers new ways to ease your mind and soul; where you can sleep, safe and sound, with your doors unlocked; and where people are so hospitable that a stranger can become a friend almost instantly. In this place, like-minded people from all over the world have created a community based on shared values of love and respect for nature and simplicity.
5. Time Traveling
Messinia doesn’t hide its age. Archaeological sites such as the Palace of Nestor and the amazingly well-preserved ancient city of Messene make for experiences that go far beyond sightseeing; they fascinate adults, fire the imagination of children, and encourage a more philosophical approach to life itself. The past is still alive all around us, in unspoiled rural communities whose founding dates have been lost to folklore, and in rituals and traditions rooted in distant eras. In the shade of thousand-year-old olive trees, farmers hold tasting sessions for wine and oil produced from the land according to methods their ancestors used, while along the coast fishermen set out for the same shoals as their grandfathers, in search of the same seafood treasures.
6. Childhood Summers
Year after year, family-friendly vacations here offer excitement for everyone. The beach is fantastic, and so is the Aqua Park, and to fill childhood summers – those stretches of time that feel endless to little hearts, Costa Navarino has created age-appropriate activities for younger family members that will let them discover the wonders of Messinia. Children can embark on new adventures, like earning a Young Archaeologist certificate after taking part in an excavation, or learning about sustainability and nutrition by planting seeds, picking fresh vegetables, and preparing a healthy farm-to-table meal all on their own.
7. Glorious Greens
There’s a reason why golfers from all over the world lavish praise on the courses at Costa Navarino. Thanks to the mild Messinian climate, players can sharpen their game all year round, while the lush green of the fairways and the deep blue hues of the clear skies and the Ionian waters combine to offer breathtaking views. What’s more, things got even better. Two brand new golf courses, The Hills Course and the International Olympic Academy Golf Course, designed by José María Olazábal have already opened this sping, in the area known as Navarino Hills, complementing the existing courses: The Dunes Course, designed by another golf legend, Bernhard Langer; and The Bay Course, designed by the golf architect Robert Trent Jones II. This addition will make Costa Navarino, already known as one of Europe’s best golf resorts, one of only a handful of golf destinations in the world to boast four signature courses.
8. We Love you in the Evening, and Underneath the Moon
When the ancient Greeks gazed up at the sky in all its stellar splendor – something that we, as modern city dwellers, cannot do so easily – it prompted questions that led to the birth of astronomy. Today, one of the things we love about Messinia is how the night sky, still undimmed by urban light pollution, is full of brightly twinkling stars, and how you can easily connect the heavenly dots that form the constellations, all while sitting on your veranda. Alternatively, you can take part in the Astronomy Nights, organized by Navarino Environmental Observatory and Navarino Natura Hall and held every evening of the week.
[Edited version of an article published in Costa Navarino Stories, Issue 08]