Captain Corelli's Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia
One Day At Majestic Myrtos, We Unlock its Secret
The secret of Myrtos is nothing to do with Captain Corelli or his mandolin, but the vicious undercurrents at the waters edge. Anyone unfamiliar with the beach would be well advised to watch the locals as they prepare to enter or leave the water to see exactly how they do it.
If you've never heard of Myrtos Beach before, let me introduce you to one of the most photographed and beautiful of beaches in the world. Myrtos is located on the north western part of the Greek Ionian island of Kefalonia.
I first found out about this beach on a family holiday to the island in 2010 and enjoyed a wonderful day there swimming and sunbathing. But it wasn't until 2012 when I returned to Kefalonia with my son and daughter that I really discovered more about this stunning beach.
It's not like any ordinary beach in that it isn't a sandy beach, only pebbles, and some very large pebbles at that. Don't be put off by stones because this beach has a few things most don't, see what further down.
Photo by Rob Hemphill - Buy from FineArtAmerica.com
This lens was created on 22 March 2013
All photos © Rob Hemphill unless otherwise stated.
Where is Myrtos Beach?
And what does it offer?
Myrtos is about three quarters of the way up on the north-western side of Kefalonia (Cephalonia).
The main road (if you can call it that!) winds its way from the capital Argostoli in the south to the north-eastern port of Fiskardo. In the village of Divarata at a marked junction, take a left turn and proceed downhill for about two miles on a tarred road with slight hairpin bends. The road drops steeply downhill and then turns into a track. As you approach the beach the track merges in with the shingle of the beach.
There is a parking area at the top of the beach just underneath the cliff face, and a small snack bar located nearby. Sunbathing lounges are also available if required.
Click on the map to open Google Maps
Assos Town Near Myrtos - A quick visit here before the beach!
The very pretty little town of Assos is situated just north of Myrtos. It has quaint little streets with locals selling their wares amidst the few tourists, who flock there in the summer time for obvious reasons.
I walked up a long and winding pathway towards the ancient castle that once guarded the town. The trek was arduous but so well worth it. As I climbed higher and higher, the views got better and better. The vivid colors were all around me from the sea to the foliage, the hills to the houses, I was in true photo heaven - and it was a lovely sunny day!
This was before we even got the the beach! What a holiday this was turning out to be.
Our First View of the Bay
As we drove along the narrow, twisty coast road we had this first view of Myrtos Bay. The beach can't be seen from this vantage point, but that was the vista that greeted our eyes.
WOW! was what we all said as we jumped out of our little Daihatsu car only to meet several other visitors all with their jaws agape at the wonderment of the beauty. It was made all the better as we had a perfect sunny and cloudless day - I suppose this is what you'd expect from the weather in Greece, but it was September!
The many shades of cobalt blue sea make this a sight to remember FOREVER.
Now we had to find how to get down to the beach, it wasn't obvious as we wound round the tight bends encountering the odd goat or two on our way. But soon we came to the small village of Myrtos situated between two mountains, and there was a tiny steeply, winding road heading towards the beach.
Maps of Greece & Kefalonia
Myrtos Beach Aerial Views
1. Myrtos Beach
The undercurrent can easily be seen
as can the steep winding road leading up to Divarata
2. Beauty and the beast of a rip-tide
The rough shoreline is evident from aboveBoth maps are courtesy of Google Maps
What is their significance?
When driving around Kefalonia you'll often see metal boxes on thin wire legs or their more grand modern equivalents at the roadside. The elaborate shrine shown here lies between the town of Assos and Myrtos Beach on the coast road.
These shrines are often modeled on churches. Inside they can have flickering oil candles behind the small glass doors, and next to the candle is usually a picture of a saint or some other icon (I didn't see one in this shrine). The top of the box is adorned with a cross sitting on a dome.
I thought these shrines were connected to the Greek Orthodox Church, but apparently not. They are merely roadside shrines which have been erected as a memorial to victims of road accidents, or as a 'thank you' to a saint, from the survivor of a possible fatal accident, for saving their life.
Pocket Guide With All The Info About Kefalonia - Small in size, big on info!
This updated Berlitz Pocket Guide is full of so much useful information about the islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos. It explores places to go and attractions not to be missed with easy-to-use, color-coded sections enabling you to locate the information quickly.
With full colour fold-out maps, you'll be able to plan your trip efficiently to include the best villages, beaches, caves and other attractions. There's a concise chapter on the history with helpful cultural tips which will give you a better understanding of the islands' heritage, right from Odysseus through to Captain Corelli.
There are 'Eating Out' recommendations and comprehensive 'Travel Tips', finding hotels and restaurants to suit all budgets, and loads of general information on language, currency, health, transport, climate and more. This guide will help you really get immersed into these islands and what they have to offer.
So Many Blues! - And a hidden beast!
The vista from the road as we approached the beach was extraordinary. We were transfixed at the variant of blues from the sea to the sky, and even when we got into the water the horizon appeared in a purple haze.
The first thing that surprised us was why weren't there more people on the beach in September. Well, perhaps there were 40 or 50 on the 1 mile stretch, but we would have expected far more.
There were a few reasons for this:
1. The road down to the beach was not easy to find, and...
2. ...this was not a sandy beach, and...
3. ...more importantly, it was unknown to most of the visitors, that the beach had a hidden secret - a really nasty undercurrent right at the shoreline. Great care had to be taken when getting in or coming out of the sea, otherwise it was like being in an industrial washing machine.
BUT IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL
You can see the rip of the sea by looking at the different blues near the shore and how they converge.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Myrtos Bay is where the bomb explosion on the beach took place in the film.
Useful Links For The Visitor
- Kefalonia Beaches
Kefalonia has so many beautiful beaches and many of them have been awarded the Blue Flag for their cleanliness. Myrtos is definitely the most famous beach, which is considered to be among the best and most impressive coasts in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Captain Corelli's Mandolin in Kefalonia
This site gives detail about the film locations on the island, as well as several places of interest worth a visit.
- Weather in Kefalonia
Kefalonia is home to a glorious Mediterranean climate.
- The History of Cephalonia
The Greek island of Cephalonia or Kefalonia also known as Kefallinia or Kephallenia in days gone by. Find out about the island's history.
- Kefalonia Naturist Beaches
There's even a detailed list of naturist beaches in Kefalonia, so you may want to be aware of them beforehand!
Beauty and the Beach
This image gives you an idea of how rough the sea is at the shoreline. We watched the locals carefully before we made an attempt to see how it should be done.
1. They all wore those rubber protective beach shoes - important as walking on the pebbles was very sore.
2. At the waters edge they watched and waited for exactly the right moment before they hurled themselves through the surf, so avoiding a battering from the pounding waves into the stony seabed.
That's all very well, but how do we get out? It's not the same in reverse as while you are attempting your exit, the undercurrent is pulling you out which lengthens the time you are in the 'difficult zone'. Anyhow, by observing those who knew about it, we felt we could cope.
So off we go, but only with our proper shoes on to within 5 yards of the edge of the water, therefore no shoes in the water. First mistake, trying to get out here in bare feet is horrible, difficult and sore!
Explore the Cave - And keep cool!
Surrounded by high rocky white cliffs, with a small cave at its southern end, the semi-circular coarse sand and pebbly beach is situated in an amazing setting.
There are deep shelves of sand and stone, therefore one has to enter and exit the water with extreme caution. Walking on the hot stones is not easy in bare feet, so sensible footwear like jelly shoes of flip flops are recommended for walking and also for swimming.
Have a look at the scene in the film Captain Corelli's Mandolin filmed here in 2001. [See the video]
The Food & Wine of Greece
This cookbook is utterly brilliant, and it symbolizes the best of Greek cuisine. The authentic recipes provide an insight into how simple it is to cook Greek food, ideal for beginners or professional cooks alike.
The regional specialities are such a delight. This one is the best cooking books around, and Diane has captured the essence and romance of Greek cooking beautifully. All the recipes will excite the palate so much so that you'll keep returning to the book for more.
This book should really satisfy your longing for Greek cuisine.
The drop into the sea from the pebbles is evident in this photo, and the fall continues downward at quite a rate. In fact, you are out of your depth within a few meters.
The Beach Bar & Sun Beds
During the main summer months, there is a small bar in the center of the beach (I think they open from June onwards), perfect for a snack lunch in the middle of the day or an ice cream and drink to cool one down.
Following a swim or a day's lounging around, and should you wish to rinse off, there are a few free showers available.
Sun lounges and beach umbrellas are also available for a small fee per person, I think we paid about 4 euros each, but can't remember!
The Magic In The Receiver
This has to be one of the most enjoyable books I've read for years. I was transported to a beautiful and exotic faraway place in the Mediterranean.
The novel is set on Kefalonia, which suffered a massive earthquake in 1953. The story is told mostly in the present; however, we do get taken back to the days before the disaster.
As I read the book, I fell in love this gorgeous Greek Island. I could hear the pounding waves on the beach and smell the Bougainvillea that paints the island with swathes of vivid color. The beautiful descriptions of the island are heavenly, and you can almost imagine you're right there.
This is a great read to have on holiday.
Famous Beach Scene - from Captain Corelli's Mandolin
The famous Myrtos beach was the scene of the exploding mine and also the La Scala members out with Italian prostitutes.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (O Dolci Mani)
What's The Weather Like?
You'll love it!
It's hot and dry with a lot of sunshine. From late May, the temperatures really begin to pick up and continue right through until the end of September, early October time. The average temperature between these months is around 20ºC (68ºF).
July and August are the hottest months with an average high of 29°C (84ºF); however It can be usual for the temperature to remain in the low 30ºC's for long periods. August is the driest month. In the summer months there often isn't that cooling breeze to soothe the scorching summer high. The water temperature is comfortable in the mid 20ºC's - ideal for swimming, boating and other water sports.
Basically, mild and wet! It is the considerable amount rainfall during this period that helps to keep the island green and lush for the remaining part of the year. The average high temperature is approx. 12°C (54ºF) with the average low of about 5°C (41ºF).
December is a little warmer and wetter than either January or February.
Spring and Autumn
These are very pleasant times to visit the island, springtime has more sun and is drier than autumn. The Spring temperatures range between 15°C-18°C (59ºC-65ºF).
Autumn is a little warmer than spring but sees quite a bit more rainfall.
We traveled with Olympic Holidays, they were excellent, so I thought I'd put a link here to assist you if you ever plan a Greek holiday.