South of Monemvasia is Kastania Cave. [Do not confuse this Kastania with the pretty village above Stoupa – different place, miles away!]. I have seen a few caves in my time but this is one of the most amazingly beautiful caves that I have ever seen. It’s not huge like the caves at Diros or such a commercial enterprise [thankfully] but it’s natural beauty in shapes, forms and colour is extraordinary.
It is not permitted to take photos in the cave so the picture above is from the visitgreece website. You can take a virtual tour of the cave on their official website which will give you a taster but does not replace the real experience. https://www.kastaniacave.gr/en
There is a small cafe by the cave entrance where you wait your turn to be escorted around the cave in small groups. Our guide was an amateur geologist and she was passionate about the cave and knew her stuff.
Getting to the cave is not an easy drive. It is hard to keep your eyes on the road when the view is so breathtaking, so plenty of stops for photographs are required. The Bradt guide warns that the routes in this area are ‘often narrow, precipitous, and extremely bendy’. Too bloody right! but it has to be done!
If you have made the effort to get this far [and it has been a long drive!] you could also take in the ruins of Mesochori Castle. I could not work out how to get right up to the castle and I did not fancy a scramble but the views from the road were impressive.
The Petrified Forest near the bottom of the peninsular is also worth a visit. Well I thought so but Leashia was pretty underwhelmed. I suppose the ancient petrified stumps themselves are hard to get too excited about, [unless you like looking at stumps] but the setting is lovely. We were shown around the site by an enthusiastic but not very well informed university student.
After the [not] forest we drove up the west side of the peninsular past Neapoli where you can get a ferry to Kythira Island and past Elafonisos Island which is well known for its beaches. We had a long drive to Gythio where we had booked a hotel for the night.