Graham, Chief Marketing Officer, took his family to Costa Navarino over the summer and came back raving about his vacation there. In in this blog he talks about cycling at the resort and all the options available.
There are many reasons we love Costa Navarino on the Peloponnese in Greece – not least the Scott Dunn Explorers kids club, luxurious accommodation and incredible facilities (such as the waterpark, golf courses and go-karting track). But it wasn’t until I spent my own summer vacation there in August that I discovered just how good a base it is for cycling. As a new convert to lycra, but no pro, I was thrilled to be introduced to Michael, who runs the excellent on-site activities outfit, Navarino Outdoors. Originally from Switzerland, Michael now lives proudly in Greece with his wife and kids. He makes it his mission to get Scott Dunn guests enjoying this beautiful, relatively undiscovered region on two wheels and will customize a fantastic program for you and your family during your stay.
Choose your bike
Walking into Michael’s HQ, Navarino Outdoors, is like walking into an Evans store: it is full of gleaming, brand spanking new bikes, of all shapes and sizes. Road, mountain, hybrid, kiddie, even e-bikes (which are great fun, if a little lazy) are all available for hire. He also has all the accessories you’ll ever need, so you don’t need to worry about bringing anything (you can even purchase your lycra there). I was particularly impressed by the range of kiddie add-ons – trailers, tow-alongs and baby seats – which make it possible to involve the whole family. Rent for the day or for a week, it’s flexible.
Living in nearby Kalamata, Michael knows the area well and schedules a number of guided group rides each week. These are great if you don’t want to think and prefer to just enjoy the scenery – and the company of other guests. I opted for the trip to Methoni, a fortress town down the coast from Navarino. After a short drive, we were dropped off at the top of a hill about 20km away and cycled our way down to the sea. The ride was mostly undulating with just a few (sweaty) hills to contend with, but these only worked up the appetite for our taverna lunch and a dip in the crystal clear water. The breezes made it doable even in the heat of August, but it would be perfect in the less sweltering days of May and October.
Go it alone
If you’re a more experienced cyclist, there are longer self-guides routes that Michael has mapped out and will happily direct you to, all graded according to the degree of ascent. A popular one takes you over the hills and down to the coastal town of Koroni. Brilliantly, you don’t have to retrace your steps as Michael’s team will come and collect you. Being August, I didn’t quite fancy such a long distance in the 35 degree heat, so I cycled with my wife instead the few kilometers to spectacular Voidokilia Beach. A gently undulating ride with very little traffic, this is a perfect expedition for bike-confident kids and there’s juice bars en route to stop to rehydrate. A splash in one of the most beautiful bays in the world is a great incentive to keep little legs pedalling. Another day, we took advantage of having the kids in Explorers to cycle out to the village of Gialova for lunch. The route took us through the traffic-free paths of the Gialova lagoon, affording expansive views of the wetlands with some opportunities for spotting the local birdlife. It’s a wonderful, secluded cycle and just long enough to earn our Nutella frozen yogurt in Gialova’s excellent Mr Yogi shop.
What if you can’t cycle?
If you have members of your family that can’t cycle yet, Costa Navarino is actually a great place for them to learn. I had been struggling for months to get my 5 year old daughter to be confident on her bike without stabilisers – and invariably each ‘teaching’ session ended in tears. Michael promised me Simon in his team would get her riding in less than an hour – which he did. For my wife and I, it was a minor miracle. For Michael, it was another day in the office.
Bored of cycling?
Heaven forbid you’ve actually had enough of cycling, Michael can organize plenty else to keep you and your kids active. There are some wonderful hikes locally, including one that takes you to the top of Paliokastro castle for the classic view of omega-shaped Voidokilia beach. There’s also a trip to the Polylimnio Falls where you can refresh in natural pools (although this one is only recommended for older kids). Being Swiss, Michael is a dab hand at climbing; you can learn on the wall in the resort itself and then do it for real on nearby Proti Island. Finally, if you’re up for a bit of indulgence, go for the sunset picnic. After a short hike, you emerge on the top of a hill with a stunning view over the coast and a table groaning the most delicious Greek picnic and a bucketful of rosé. It’s very special and the perfect, chilled-out end to a week of happy exertion.