Planning Easter vacations can be a challenge if you are looking for a sunny destination but do not want to go to a tropical location. Falling usually in the months of March and/or April, the Christian Catholic and Orthodox Easter season is usually not celebrated at the same time, and generally does not coincide with warm weather and sunshine.
This can be a downer as we have all been dying for a holiday since Christmas, and for a sunshine-abundant one since the previous summer. This ‘lag’ between the two Easter calendars can be beneficial for the flexible traveller; picking the ideal sunny destination shouldn’t be that hard, and here is why.
Greece is somewhat of a climate safeguard where you can be sure to expect luscious weather and warm temperatures during the Spring months; it also offers a plethora of islands to choose from. The Aegean and Ionian seas host the most natural setting for sun-drenched holidays.
More specifically, the Ionian side boasts turquoise and azure waters that give you an exotic rather than Mediterranean, feel! There is Corfu of course, and also Kefalonia, the largest Greek island in the Ionian Sea, is notoriously known for its captivating beauty also having inspired Louis de Bernières’ ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’. In terms of sunshine, you will experience nothing like it, as there is something absolutely captivating in the way the island captures and reflects the sunlight. The way the sun falls on the glistening sea creates an aquatic ombre effect, reflecting shades of cyan and hues of all kinds of blue.
It is an ideal destination for ‘belated’ Easter holidays as the Ionian climate will not fail to please you and the island features varied landscapes of immeasurable beauty: rocky cliffs, pristine beaches, peaceful meadows, mountain hills and coastline locations are wilderness personified in Kefalonia. If you visit be sure to check out some of my all time favourite beaches that are guaranteed to replenish any vitamin D deficiencies you may have developed during the winter: Skala, Ag. Pelayia and Myrtos.
On my last stay, I personally did not have to travel much to enjoy the gorgeous Skala beach; a spectacular beach on the east coast of the island, and a common visit ground for Caretta Caretta sea turtles; I had strategically chosen to stay at the gorgeous boutique apartment accommodation Olive Mare which is only 400 metres away from the beach. I experienced a beautifully tranquil environment surrounded an by olive orchard, aimed at making the guests feel relaxed and at complete ease.
I was informed by the incredibly helpful staff that there were numerous options for creating my personal excursion itinerary. They kindly shared a Kefalonian hidden treasure: the Gradou Gorge, very close to Skala, which I discovered to be a waterfall oasis.
The private personalised tours that were available on Exclusive Ionian’s excursion options excited me, as apart from being thorough, each can be tailored to guests’ specific needs and desires. One tour that really appealed to me was the 1 day boat tour that takes you on an Ithaca cruise from the east coast of Kefalonia. This was a tremendous insight as I got to visit the island that was Odysseus’ home in Greek mythology, without having to raise a finger as I was directly picked-up from my villa! I would definitely recommend this tour, as you get to visit an extra island so its like killing two birds with one stone! The experience was a wonderful one, and so I would definitely encourage you to explore the excursion options available for a truly unforgettable experience, as Kefalonia has so much to offer its visitors.
If you are in the mood for some off-the-grid exploring, as I was, you can also plan your own excursion. For myself, a sun-seeker, beaches were a main target:
Ag. Pelayia is a golden sand beach is on the south coast of Kefalonia, located on the bay of Ai Heli. However, the true gem of Kefalonia is Myrtos beach, which is the longest and probably the most well known beach of the island. It boasts pristine white sand and is found on the north-west coast line. The feeling of freedom I experienced while snoozing, listening to the lapping of the soft waves under the warm glorious sun is almost indescribable. I wanted to stay there forever…
But apart from the islands’ inherent beauty, if you visit during Easter, you will get to taste the local traditional cuisine, which is typically wholesome Mediterranean goodness, plus a few surprises as for many years now the islanders have been tampering with tradition to create their own special island culinary treats.
During the Easter period being on an island means you will get to experience the local vibe. As households and churches are preparing for the highlight of the season, the villages smell of freshly baked Lampropsomo (typical sweet Easter bread). The beautiful churches echo with moving psalms while priests go around their parishes giving out eggs for them to be dyed red, as tradition dictates.
On Holy Saturday the Greeks celebrate the Resurrection with copious amounts of fireworks, making the night of Holy Saturday a sky spectacle. All this culminates in a huge Easter Sunday feast, with many meaty treats, music and dancing, signifying the end of Lent and the start of new beginnings. Another interesting highlight is the burning of a Judas effigy in the nearby village of Lourdata which is also a common Easter trait of the Ionian islands.