Between Lefkada and Aitoloakarnania lies the best kept secrets of the Ionian Sea. If you want to taste the magic of the Ionian Sea combined with the quiet beaches and crystal clear waters then you have to visit the islands of Kalamos and Kastos. “Bathed” in green and blue, the two islands invite you to see another ” more remote” side of Greece.
Kalamos (Lefkada) is the largest of the two islands but also the wildest. Its landscape is full of greenery and many steep slopes. The island was already inhabited since the Mycenaean and Classical periods. Later in Roman times, a castle was built between the settlements of Kalamos and Episkopi and parts of it are still preserved to this day. The island became even more famous during the revolution of 1821, when it became a refuge for families from Epirus, Central Greece and the Peloponnese, as the island was then under British administration. Finally, in 1864 Kalamos was united with Greece, as did the rest of the Ionian Islands.
South of Kalamos and at a very close distance is the island of Kastos (Lefkada). Kastos has a size of 5.1 sq. km. which makes it one of the most minor inhabited islands in the Ionian Sea. Its shape is elongated and along its coastline are countless small beaches. The landscape here is relatively flat, making it easier to navigate than the Kalamos island.
How to reach the best kept secrets of the Ionian sea
Access to both of the islands is possible from the village of Mytikas. Mytikas is a coastal village on the western coast of Aitoloakarnania and is the closest port to both islands. Initially, it should be noted that it is not possible to transport your own vehicle to the two islands so you will have to leave it at the port of Mytikas. Fortunately, there is free parking very close by behind the beach east of the port. From here there are two options to get to the two islands. Either take the boat that runs daily from the port of Mytikas or rent your own boat. If you just want to stay overnight on one of the two islands for a few days then the boat is probably the best option. On the other hand, if you want to see both islands on the same day and visit beaches that are not accessible then you should use your own boat. Finally, there is also the option for a water taxi but the transfers are only available on request.
If you choose to visit best kept secrets of the Ionian sea by boat, it is advisable to check the schedules before you organize your trip. The schedules are usually much more frequent in the summer than they are at other times of the year. See the schedules here:
Mytikas - Kastos - Kalamos boat rental
If you choose to reach the best kept secrets of the Ionian sea with your own boat there are various options at the port of Mytikas. Greek legislation stipulates that it is possible to rent small speedboats of a certain type even without holding a speedboat license. For more information on this, it is best to contact the local rental agencies. In any case, however, remember that we must treat the sea with respect. Always follow the safety rules and always be informed about the weather conditions.
Tour to the best kept secrets of the Ionian sea
The two islands are surrounded by countless small beaches, many of which are not accessible by road, especially on the island of Kalamos. Also, as mentioned above, you cannot transport a vehicle on both islands so the way you explore them depends on how you are going to get to them.
Tour in Kalamos
If you chose to visit the island by boat then presumably you will be at the main port of Kalamos. Initially from here you can tour the village on foot, walk through the lovely alleys and admire the amazing views out to sea. Then you can either head southwest or northeast and visit the accessible beaches. Generally, the distances are not long but they do have quite a few uphills, which combined with the summer heat can be a bit exhausting. In any case, make sure that you bring enough water with you and appropriate clothing.
There is also the option of being transported by a local, in one of the few vehicles that exist on the island, for a fee of course. For more information on this don’t hesitate to ask any of the locals who will certainly be willing to help you.
Tour in Castos
If you chose to visit the island by boat then you will presumably be at the main port of Kastos. As in the case of Kalamos, you can walk to the village and then head southwest or northeast to visit the accessible beaches. In general, the distances are not long here either. Also, Kastos is generally flatter than Kalamos which makes it easier to reach the beaches. In any case, make sure you bring enough water with you and appropriate clothing.
Tour in Kalamos and Kastos by boat
If you chose to visit the island by boat then there are plenty of options. We suggest you make a circle around the two islands so that you can not only visit beaches that are inaccessible but also see all the settlements on both islands.
Best time to visit
We recommend visiting the two islands in the summer. In summer both islands are full of life. Most of the shops are open so there are more options for coffee and food. Also, the boat trips are more frequent so it is easier to organise your trip.
Where to Stay
Accommodation in Kalamos,Lefkada
Accommodation in Kastos, Lefkada
Accommodation in Mytikas, Etoloakarnania
Free Camping in Kalamos
If any of the above options are not available or you want to experience the magic of the island from as close as possible then there is the option of free camping.
Attention! Before reading on you should know that free camping is not a legal activity, which means that there is always the risk of a fine. Also, we must always respect the natural environment as well as other visitors to the site. Always leave the place cleaner than you found it!
The locals are very friendly to free campers and in the village, you will find several places to buy water and food for your stay. The place we recommend for free camping is Myrtia beach which is accessible from the road and has plenty of shade where you can set up. Always remember that we avoid lighting fires and that when you are leaving collect all of your rubbish.
Free camping in Castos
If you want to camp on the island of Kastos. The locals here are also very friendly to free campers and in the village you will find places to buy water and food for your stay. The place we recommend for free camping is the beaches near the village which are accessible by road. However, here you may find it difficult to find some good shade so make sure you get the necessary equipment. Always remember to avoid lighting fires and to collect all your rubbish on leaving.
Organized camping in Mytikas
There is also the option to stay in organized camping in Mytikas – Ionion Camping
The best places to see
Apart from the villages of the two islands, the best kept secrets of the Ionian sea, also have a lot of sightseeing to offer.
1. Agrapidia beach mill.
Perhaps the most picturesque place on the island of Kalamos. The old mill, the small harbour and the quietness of the place will take you back in time. Next to it, there is a beach with pebbles and deep blue waters ideal for swimming.
The second settlement on the island of Kalamos. It is located just opposite the village of Mytikas. Here you will find some places to eat for coffee and some places to stay.
3. Myrtia Beach
Perhaps the most beautiful beach on Kalamos island which is accessible by road. The place is ideal for swimming as apart from the crystal clear waters you will find many shadows along the way. Also, the place is ideal for free camping.
4. Cave Fokotripa.
The Fokotripa cave is located near the chapel of Agios Emilianos and the homonymous beach on the island of Kastos. The cave is accessible only from the sea. It is quite deep and you can swim in it.
5. Mylos cocktail bar
Old windmill where you can enjoy breakfast, coffee and cocktails on the island of Kastos. The place offers perhaps the best panoramic view of the Ionian Sea. It is an ideal place for relaxation and diving at the nearby beach.
6. Vali beach.
The beach is located near the settlement of Kastos and is one of the best and quietest places for swimming and relaxation. Unfortunately, there is no shade on the beach so make sure you bring the appropriate equipment with you.
What to do in Kalamos and Kastos islands
The best kept secrets of the Ionian sea offer a wide range of activities to do. Apart from swimming and water sports, both islands are suitable for hiking. Also the beaches are ideal for snorkeling as the seabed on both islands is stunningly beautiful and has great biodiversity.
Where to eat
Especially in summer on both islands, there are several tavernas offering local homemade food. In fact, due to the fact that the places have not yet become touristic, the prices are still at good levels.
Food in Kalamos, Lefkada
George’s Restaurant – Beautiful family tavern in the port of Kalamos, next to the sea.
Food in Castos, Lefkada
Taverna Belos – Tavern with delicious dishes, next to the sea.
Food in Mytikas, Etoloakarnania
Café Ouzeri O Pharos – A picturesque tavern in a beautiful location by the sea.