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Melissani Lake Cave of the Nymphs

Melissani Lake

Whilst in Kefalonia last summer, in-between sunbathing, kayaking and sun cruising, we booked onto a day trip to discover all the wonders that Kefalonia had to offer. The island is only 32 miles long so we didn’t imagine there would be that many wonders to observe…how wrong we were!

On the way to Melissani Lake

After a scenic drive across Kefalonia on dirt tracks, barely crossing another car for two hours, we turned off at a small corner of the road sign posted: “Melissa Cave of the Nymphs”. The sign seemed so inconspicuous, I was more glad that we hadn’t rented a car in the end, finding it would have been a bit of a nightmare!

Entrance to Melissani Lake

We made our way down a sharp staircase and into the cave entrance to experience this naturally occurring wonder….but also to find out exactly what Nymphs were! Were they fairies? Were they elves? And why were they hanging out in an underground lake?

Heading down a dark, wet tunnel you wouldn’t have thought that a crystal blue lake would be at the end of it. It was a cool atmosphere and a sharp contrast to the hot midday sun that was beaming down on us at the entrance.

Cave entrance to Melissani Lake

Melissani Lake boats

First impressions of the lake was just “WOW”. It was so perfectly crafted it could have been an over the top spa experience built by an ambitious and flamboyant seven star hotel. The fact that it was naturally occurring was the most fascinating part of Melissani Lake.

We shuffled our way down the cave’s tunnel to the ‘dock’ and boarded a gondola with a small group of our fellow tourists. As we pulled away from the dock into the main part of Melissani Lake, we were serenaded by our oarsman with “just one cornetto”, we all giggled to ourselves and smiled as we got our cameras ready for the picture perfect moment.

Portrait Melissani Lake

Floating on the lake, I put my hand in the water and it was so clear I could see right into the bottom, all I wanted to do was jump in and dive to the bottom a la The Little Mermaid. However, with five other boats on the lake and sitting in a boat full of tourists that wouldn’t have wanted to be capsized, I imagined that swimming in the lake would have been a big no no!

Melissani Lake wall

Trees on Rood Melissani Lake

After basking in the sun streaming through the collapsed roof (originally caused by an earthquake), the oarsman pulled us towards the darkness at the back of cave. There was a rock formation in the middle of the lake that the oarsman explained was where the nymphs called home. I felt a bit daft in front of a boat full of people asking what Nymphs were so I figured I’d find out later!

The back of Melissani Lake

So what are Nymphs and why do they live in Melissani Lake?

Nymphs in Greek and Latin mythology are a sort of female spirit, typically associated with a particular location or landform such as Melissani Lake. They are different from other goddesses as Nymphs are generally regarded as ‘divine spirits’ who animate nature and are depicted as beautiful young maidens who love to dance and sing.

Be sure to book this as part of a day tour as you’ll be finished in half an hour or less with the cave being quite small. Don’t let this stop you from going as you won’t see anything like what Melissa Lake offers anywhere else. Plus everything else around it is just so wonderfully scenic, you won’t want to miss out!

Outside Melissani Lake

10 Fun Facts about Melissani Lake

1) Melissani Lake is described as one of the most significant places for tourists to visit in Greece

2) The roof caved in centuries ago letting sunlight filter in

3) The depth of the lake is 20 to 30 metres

4) Myth has it that the cave was named after the Nymph Melissanthi who committed suicide because her love for God Pan was not reciprocated (morbid or what?)

5) The best time to visit the cave is when the sun is right overhead at noon, the sunlight hitting the turquoise-blue waters creates a magical illusion and the whole Cave of Melissani suddenly feels lit with blue light

6) Many artifacts were found during excavations in the 50s and 60s that were dated to the 3rd and 4th century BC

7) The cave is 36 metres high, 40 metres wide and 3.5 metres long

8) A balcony was built on top of the cave for tourists to get a spectacular view of the inside from the top

9) The cave was created by a mechanical and chemical process called karstikopoiisi (dissolution of rocks) during which water enters the calcareous rocks, erodes them and creates hollows

10) The underground lake was discovered in 1951 by speleontologist Giannis Petrochilos

So what do you think, would you go searching for Nymphs in Melissani Lake? ;) Or have you been and experienced it for yourself?

For more things to do and experience in Kefalonia click here.

Mel x

About the author

Hi, I’m Mel! The adventure-seeking vegan travel blogger behind Footsteps on the Globe. On this blog you'll find my latest adventures, travel inspiration as well as tips and tricks on how to be vegan around the world. You don’t have to give up being vegan to follow your travel dreams and I’m here to show you how!