It was Louis de Bernieres’ bestselling novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, published in the mid-nineties and later made into the popular film that brought the island of Kefalonia, from a relatively unknown Greek Island into the world spotlight. The Island has been regularly voted in the top ten destinations in the world for scenic beauty, and therefore has become the “Jewel of the Ionian Islands.”
Kefalonia is the largest of the seven Ionian Islands, lying off the west coast of mainland Greece. Covering an area of 270 square kilometres the island is mountainous and covered in forest and vegetation. Unlike many of its sister islands Kefalonia enjoys a number of rivers, lakes and underground caves. It is also famed for its clear turquoise waters against numerous white sandy beaches, and private pebble coves with a coastline stretching over 250kms. The island has many wonderful bays and inlets to form its unusual shape.
Kefalonia has a population of approximately 35.000 whose main occupations and source of income are agriculture, fishing and tourism. With tourism playing such a huge part in the economy, there are a growing number of people from all over Europe who are recognising the potential for investment on the Island.
Despite strong cultural influences from the Italians, specifically the Venetians, together with the French and British, Kefalonia has retained its own authentic Greek character, unlike more easterly parts of Greece.
The capital, Argostoli, is the largest town of Kefalonia. Protected in a natural harbour, it is beautifully spread into low hills full of vegetation that almost reach the sea level. To the east of Argostoli at the end of Argostoli Bay, sits the Koutavos lagoon, a natural reserve. Just 3 kilometers from Argostoli, lies Lassi area, famous for its resorts, and the golden sandy beaches, such as Makris and Platis Gialos.
On the North-West coast lays Myrtos bay, known for its incredible aquamarine coloured sea, making it a popular beach with visitors from all over the world. From here the tiny hamlet of Assos is visible, crowned by an imposing Venetian fortress. The furthest village north is the traditional fishing village of Fiscardo which attracts visitors from all over the globe, and is popular with celebrities and the “jet-set”. Fiscardo although traditional in style, is very cosmopolitan and is often referred to as the “Kefalonian Riviera” attracting large private yachts and is regularly featured in the media as one of the most beautiful places in Greece.
The South-East coast offers key tourist destinations including the village of Scala with its extensive sandy beaches, and luxurious resorts. One of the main ferry ports is located in this region in the pretty town of Poros, and a new marina is under construction in the fishing village of Katelios which will offer a number of berths for yachts and pleasure craft, and is certain to further improve the local area. Katelios is famed for its numerous fresh fish tavernas and also its proximity to Kaminia Beach, the protected long stretch of fine sand which is a nesting area for the ‘Caretta Caretta’ loggerhead turtles during the summer months.
Sami is located on the East coast of Kefalonia and is one of the main ports of Kefalonia island. Surrounded by green mountains in the background of a sea gulf, Sami is a safe harbour and a significant milestone for many destinations. In Sami have been recorded 17 seats of caves, which is unique to Greece. The most notable and widely known are the underground lake of Melissani in Karavomilos and the Cave of Drogarati. Sami became widely known from the movie "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" and the beautiful beaches such as Sami Beach and Antisamos. In this part of the island is also located Agia Efimia, one of the most beautiful seaside villages in Kefalonia which has a truly cosmopolitan air and features amazing scenery.
On the West coast lies Lixouri which is one of the most picturesque cities on the island and the second most populous after Argostoli. Lixouri is one of the towns of Kefalonia, which provides many attractions for visitors with its golden beaches such as Petanoi Beach, Xi and Lepeda.
Livathos region, in the South-West, undoubtedly sums up Kefalonia. It is within easy travelling distance to the capital Argostoli and the airport, making it ideal not only for holidays, but also as a permanent base. Historically, it has strong ties with shipping and many seafarers originate from this part of the island. Agriculture and fishing also continue to play an important part in the lives of local people. A strong community spirit still exists throughout the area with numerous local events and festivals taking place in the traditional and well-known villages, such as Kourkoumelata, Svoronata, Lakithra, Sarlata, Karavados and Pessada, throughout the year. The region is also one of the most popular due to its superb coastline, with numerous beaches including Avithos, Ai Hellis, St. Thomas, Spartia, Trapezaki, Lourdas and many others.