Impossibly ultramarine waters, plunging volcanic mountains and hidden pebble beaches: the Ionian pairing of Kefalonia and Ithaca is a haven for seafaring romantics.
There’s blue and then there’s blue: the crystalline waters of the Ionian as it melts into the cove-riddled coasts of Kefalonia and Ithaca would turn Yves Klein green with envy. Kefalonia’s rocky coast is an ocean-lapped Gorgonzola of coves and caves, some of which run deep into the island’s heart. The pastel-painted port villages, such as Fiskardo, come alive in the summer months, as pleasure vessels jostle for harbour space and honeymooners swoon over seafood in lively, family-run tavernas. Ithaca, Kefalonia’s smaller, wilder and more windswept neighbour wears its mythological mystique on its cypress-lined sleeve – the island is the reputed home of Homeric hero Odysseus, and the supposed site of his palace is there to see in Stavros. Both islands are breath-thievingly beautiful, and despite the interested influx brought by Louis de Berniéres’ homage to Kefalonia, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, it’s still easy to find pristine pockets of seclusion.
May and June are ideal, as the weather’s warm and the hills are painter-perfect with flowers. July and August are hottest and busiest, so head over in September or October for late sun and a still-warm sea. The islands empty in winter, and getting there and away can become trickier.