Loggerhead turtles patrol the clear, calm waters of Cephalonia island, which rises majestically out of the Ionian’s emerald green haze. A place of simple, fundamental pleasures, discover this island where lazy waves lap against long, sweeping expanses of silky sand, and contented laughter echoes above tables groaning with platefuls of fresh seafood and generously splashed wine. It’s not always been this peaceful, however. Having survived German and Italian occupations - and the bloodshed of the Greek Civil war - Cephalonia was finally overcome by a devastating earthquake in 1953, which razed practically every structure during a hellish half-minute of destruction.
Nowadays, Cephalonia is a heavenly mirage of idyllic beaches, all overlooked by the huge rise of Mount Aenos - a black-pine coated mountain where wild ponies roam freely. Wander the shorefront of Argostoli - along the bustling harbour - and keep an eye out for fishermen lobbing their rejected haul back into the waves. Chances are this daily ritual will summon the loggerhead turtles who cruise these waters and gather to enjoy the free feast. Tuck into a feast of your own in Argostoli’s central Vallianos Square, where mandolins and guitars interplay, and locals wine and dine in shaded bars.
Spectacular - if a little hair-raising - roads lace the island, and you can venture out to Vouti Beach to discover crystal-clear waters shifting in hue through the full ombre of blues. Take a long, undisturbed swim in the warm waters, surrounded by flashing fish life and huge, loosely scattered rocks. A refreshing tossed Greek salad awaits on the shore. Fiskardo, meanwhile, is one of the island’s prettiest harbours, where a hubbub of colourful fishing boats are moored within touching distance of tavernas, serving up deliciously grilled sea bream and anchovies.