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Take a boat trip underground to experience the magical atmosphere of this incredible cave, enclosing a subterranean lake, named after the nymph Melissanthi. Close to the village of Karavomilo, on the east coast, it should be high on your list of things to do on a holiday to Kefalonia. 

 

The cave top is thought to have collapsed centuries ago during an earthquake, and sunlight streams through the opening, illuminating the shimmering, turquoise water on which boats appear to levitate. 

The lake is about 160 metres long and more than 30 metres at its widest and deepest, but the mix of fresh and sea water is clear enough to see its bed.

According to ancient Greek myth the heartbroken nymph Melissanthi drowned herself in the lake, after being spurned by Pan, the god of nature. Now it is home to eels and has a small island with trees clinging to its steep banks.

The legend was enhanced by the discovery in the 1950s and 60s of plates, figurines and oil lamps depicting the half-goat Pan and nymphs.

Karavomilo is between Sami and Agia Efimia, and Melissani is signposted from the village, with car parking available next to a cafe, across a small bridge. Buses also visit the site, which is open during the day between May and October.

There is a small entrance fee and visitors walk through a man-made tunnel before being taken through the cavern, including an enclosed, darker chamber, by rowing boat.

The erosion of the walls has created some strangely-shaped rock formations, including some said to resemble dolphins.

The water is actually flowing through the cave, fed by seawater from sinkholes at Katavothres, about 15km away on the west coast, and passing on back out to sea on the opposite side of the island.