At 45 kilometres from Sparti and the world heritage site of Mystras, there is a port considered by many to be a rare and exciting find. One would tend to agree; it is indeed quite unexpected, in the wild and earthy landscape of Southern Peloponnese, to find an entire village of cheerful, neoclassical-style houses, built amphitheatrically around the small port. Driving into the village is enough of a surprise, though nothing compares to arriving there by sea, say, from a weekend in the nearby isle of Kythira the feeling is that of discovering the capital of a Cycladic island so far away from where it is originally supposed to be.
After the sheer surprise of the surroundings, the place is bound to tingle one's nose, as every second turn seems to hide a grill of some kind, whereupon a variety of fish and seafood (with octopus being the undisputable star) slowly sizzles to perfection. Fishermen work day and night to provide the best accompaniments for your shots of ouzo if you are not familiar with the ritual of this Greek aperitivo, this is definitely the right place for a proper initiation. Loyal visitors return for the long, sandy beaches of Selinitsa, Mavrovouni, and Vathy, while the area is generally considered a good starting point for further exploration of both sides of Mani. It is also the ideal choice for a very close look at nature, with about 200 loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) making their nests in nearby beaches. Joining the dozens of volunteers in protecting the nests from May to October can prove quite the experience.