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Lake in Melissani Cave – One of the World’s Cleanest Lakes

Lake in Melissani Cave – One of the World’s Cleanest Lakes

On the eastern side of the island of Kefalonia in Greece there is a sunken lake called Melissani Lake,  Melissani Cave, or Cave of the Nymphs. Melissani Cave is named after the nymph, Melissanthi.  Melissani cave is located about 2 km northwest from the town of Sami and around 10 km from the town of Argostoli.  

Melissani Cave is surrounded by forests with mountain slopes to the west.  

 

kefalonia greece, melissani cave
Island of Kefalonia, Melissani Cave Greece.

 

Melissani Cave Cefalonia – Discovering

The cave was rediscovered in 1951 by Giannis Petrocheilos, and opened to the public in 1963. During the first exploration in 1951, an ancient lamp, now on display in the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli, was found there. In 1962, an excavation produced few but important relics of a former Minoan culture on Cephalonia. Oil lamps, plates and figures show the God Pan and several nymphs. This is, why the cave is sometimes called “Cave of the Nymphs”. The lake was named after one of the nymphs, the nymph Melissanthi. Myth holds that Melissanthi drowned herself in the lake when Panas rejected her love.

The opening on the surface of Melissani Cave lets the light in, making the water so clear that boats appear to be gliding through the air.

 

 

Melissani Cave, Kefalonia Greece
Opening of Cave from the top, Melissani Cave Kefalonia Greece
Opening in Melissani Cave, Kefalonia Greece
Opening in Melissani Cave
Opening at Melissani Cave, Kefalonia Greece
Opening at Melissani Cave

 

It’s best to go see the cave when it’s sunny so you can enjoy the full effect of the light streaming through the hole in the ceiling of the first hall of the cave.   We were lucky and could not have had a more perfect day We happily paid the entrance fee of 7 Euros per person.

 

Entrance to Melissani Cave Lake, Kefalonia Greece
Entrance to Melissani Cave Lake

 

There is a flight of steps down to enter the tunnel.   As you descend down through the tunnel, it’s dark and a little steep.  There are handle bars on each sides to hold on to.   At the end of the tunnel you see the light of the lake shining through.

 

Melissani Cave entrance towards Melissani Lake
Cave entrance towards Melissani Lake

 

At the end of the tunnel, small row boats wait to take visitors across the lake to admire the spectacular sight of the stalactites and the changing colours of the water.

 

Visitors boarding the row boats at Melissani Lake, Kefalonia Greee
Visitors boarding the row boats at Melissani Lake
Boat Dock at Melissani Cave, Kefalonia Greece
Boat Dock at Melissani Cave, Greece

 

Our Tour to Lake in Melissani Cave

Shortly after we arrived, a tour group showed up and it got very crowded.  The row boat was big enough to hold all of us (group of 5), plus 3 other people.

The boats are the only way to tour the lake.  The cave once had two big chambers which caved in several thousand years ago.  Today the cave is shaped like a “B”,  with two big water filled halls and an island in the middle.  The first hall has a big oval opening to the surface where the sunlight shines in.  The second is a huge cavern with an arched roof and numerous stalactites and stalagmites.  The boats tours take you through the halls of the cave.

We first circled around the first hall with the oval opening in the surface, where the light comes through.  We passed the island on the opposite wall, where a small channel exists.  The channel that connects the two halls is very narrow.  In some areas it’s too narrow for the boatmen to row through, so they pull the row boats using a rope.  The second hall is a huge cavern with an arched roof, which was also formed by a collapse.

The boatmen that row the boats were very accommodating by taking pictures of us, and constantly providing interesting information about the melissani caves.

 

On the boat at Melissani Lake, Kefalonia Greece
On the boat at Melissani Lake, Greece
First Melissani Cave Hall Opening, Kefalonia Grece
First Hall Opening, Melissani Cave

 

Melissani Lake is 36m high, 40m wide and 3.5 m long. A balcony was built on top of the cave for tourists to get a spectacular view of the inside from the top.   The water level inside the cave is a meter higher than sea level. The water in Melissani Lake is brackish, a mixture of fresh and salt water.  Melissani Lake receives some of its water from the Katavothres on the other side of the island. The Katavothres are a series of swallow holes that sea water flows into. No one was sure where the water went until dye was dropped into the Katavothres. Fourteen days later the dye turned up in Melissani Lake, proving there was at least one hydrologic connection under the island.

 

Second Hall at Melissani Cave, Kefalonia Greece
Second Hall at Melissani Cave
View of Second Hall from Melissani Lake, Kefalonia Greece
View of Second Hall from Melissani Lake, Greece
Second Hall at Melissani Cave, Kefalonia Greece
Second Hall at Melissani Cave
Inside the Second Hall at Melissani Cave, Kefalonia Greece
Inside the Second Hall at Melissani Cave
Stalactites and Stalagmites in Second Hall of Melissani Cave, Kefalonia Greece
Stalactites and Stalagmites in Second Hall of Melissani Cave
Melissani Lake Photo, kefalonia Greece
Melissani Lake, Greece

 

The tour is short  lasting only 15 minutes.

The Melissani Cave is a must for all visitors to the greek island of Kefalonia.  It was one of our stops on our Royal Caribbean Mediterranean Cruise on Splendour of the Seas.

 

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Tour to Melissani Cave, Kefalona Greece

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

58 Comments

    • Carmen

      Hi Vicky, The water is crystal clear and changes colors throughout the day as the sunsets.

  1. WOW that looks beautiful! I love the local legends associated with it too- definitely somewhere I would visit. Great pics!

    • Carmen

      Hi Hannah. The experience of being rowed around this wonderful lake is not to be missed, especially on a sunny day with the wonderful light streaming onto the very clear water.

  2. Oh wow, that it just stunning!! Greece is most definitely on my list 🙂

    • Carmen

      I love Greece it’s filled with many wonderful things to see. I hope you get a chance to visit soon.

  3. 7 Euros sounds like a lot for a short tour, but the photos you took show that it is worth it. Stunning!

    • Carmen

      Hi Mindi, I agree $7 Euros is a lot of money, but it’s well worth the great photo opportunities.

  4. I love your pics – especially the ones of the opening, with sun shining through. It makes the water look so clear and bus! Greece is a country I need to get to – this will definitely be on my list!

    • Carmen

      Hi Katie, The water color changes depending on the location from where the boat is on the lake and the sunlight. It’s just breathtaking to see it.

  5. I absolutely love Greece, but I have never been to Kefalonia. This lake looks amazing!! I’ll have to put it on my list of must-sees for the next time I’m there. Beautiful photos!!

    • Carmen

      Hi Amy, Kefalonia has many exotic beaches with the crystal blue waters. It’s a little different from the other islands because it’s surrounded by mountains. It’s a great place for a family vacation.

  6. WOW! I thought this place was publicly accessible to swimmers and such. Didn’t know there was paid entry. Beautiful pictures either way, I would love to visit someday.

    • Carmen

      Hi Bianca, If you want to go swimming the closest beach is Myrtos Beach. It’s absolutely beautiful.

  7. wow, those photos are simply amazing! It must have been surreal being there. Yet, I’ve become a little claustrophobic over the last few years, I wonder how I’d deal?

    • Carmen

      Hi Tammi, I’m a little claustrophobic myself and I didn’t have any issues. I’m sure you will be fine.

  8. Whoa, those boats really do look like they are floating in air! That is incredible. I would definitely pay the €7 to get in here.

    • Carmen

      Hi Jessica, The water is so clear that you can see the fish swimming in the bottom as well. Makes you want to jump in.

  9. Simply stunning, based on these pictures it must have been incredible to see in person.

    • Carmen

      Hi Lyn, We originally opted out from going and decided at the last minute to go. I’m so glad we went.

  10. Stunning pics! What an incredible place. I have seen pictures of this around the net from time to time over the years but never knew where it was located. Yet another reason to add to the list of reasons why I need to head back to Greece.

    • Carmen

      Hi Jen, The cave is about a 30 minute drive from the port of Argostoli. The cave was nice and cool which was refreshing since the day was so warm when we went.

  11. Never been to Greece, which I feel increasingly guilty about – and that’s increased by these gorgeous pictures!

    • Carmen

      Hi Sarah, Last year was my first time in Greece, and we loved it. This year I’m planning on going to Athens and Santorini. I can’t wait!!

  12. Oh wow. Those blues look incredible. These photos look like they’ve been ripped right from a National Geographic magazine!

    • Carmen

      Thanks Alli, I don’t think anyone can take a bad picture at Melissani Cave.

  13. Really enjoyed all the info you provided on the cave and lake! It looks like a beautiful place to visit.

    • Carmen

      Hi Ming, It was well worth the visit, and going in the midday provided the best photo opportunities.

  14. Amazing! What a magical place. We are usually not ones for tourist attractions, but that really looks like one not to miss.

    • Carmen

      Hi Simone, We almost didn’t go. We waited too long to sign up for the excursion and it was sold out. We ended up taking a taxi to the Cave, and had the guy wait for us. Definitely, worth the trip.

  15. Oh this just looks incredible.

    • Carmen

      Hi Jennifer, The cave is absolutely beautiful and the locals give excellent tours in the boats.

  16. So gorgeous! The world is such a cool place to explore especially when you come across something like this built by nature.

    • Carmen

      Hi Adelina, You are correct, there’s so much beauty in world to see. I’ll never get tired of discovering new places to visit. 🙂

  17. I am going sailing around Kefallonia next month, will definitely check it out, just hope there won’t be too many people around 🙂

  18. Hey,

    I’ve nominated you for a liebster award, please don’t feel pressured to pass this on. However, it certainly could brighten someone’s day if you choose to participate. Either way, thank you for your very inspiring and entertaining posts.check out the bottom of my post for your 11 questions
    | Eat Sleep Shoot Travel BLOG
    http://eatsleepshoottravelblog.com/2014/07/15/i-got-a-leibster-blog-award/

    Natasha

    • Carmen

      Hi Natasha, That’s for nominating me.

  19. Wow! So beautiful! I can’t believe how blue and clear that water is!

    • Carmen

      Hi Amy, The waters are one of the clearest I’ve ever seen inside a cave that’s for sure.

  20. Melissani Cave is just out of this world, and especially since it looks like there’s a lot of water interchange, so it remains pure, unlike Central American Cenotes. There’s something similar at the Northern edge of Israel as well, where you can go down to the water level. Beautiful!

    • Carmen

      Hi Milosz, The brackish water enters the Melissani Cave from one end and flows out from the other. Water is replenished by the springs underneath the water inside which is what makes it so clear.

  21. This is SO cool! I love caves, and haven’t been through a cave by boat yet so this would be quite the experience!

    • Carmen

      Hi Lauren, Yes, It’s quite a unique experience to be on a row boat inside the cave. It’s also very relaxing to have someone row you around the lake without having to do any work.

  22. What a fun little tour! There are so many spectacular islands in Greece. I’ll have to find a sugar daddy with a yacht to sail me around to all of them next summer! 😉

    • Carmen

      Hi Mandie, I like your thinking 🙂 I’m sure we can find you a sugar daddy with a yacht somewhere. The islands of Greece are fabulous and definitely worth seeing. (Specially, on a yacht)

  23. Alyssa
    Reply

    Hello Carmen,

    Do you by any chance know how to get to the lake from Kefalonia? Where did you stay before you went? I tried searching the internet, but unfortunately I can’t seem to find any tips on how to get there from Kefalonia town or airport. Please share your tips if you do have any!

    Thank you!

    • Carmen

      Hi Alyssa,

      We were on a cruise ship and the island of Kefalonia was one of our stops. We took a taxi from the town to Melissani Cave/Lake. It’s a good 45 minute drive from town because it’s on the other side of the island. The taxi driver waited for us and took us back to town. I believe it was either $80 or $100 euros round trip. If you’re looking for places to stay, I would look at the towns of Sami or Fiscardo. They are both cute fishing towns nearby. Here’s one of the places I looked at. http://www.anthisbeach.gr/accommodation.htm

  24. wendy sauceda
    Reply

    hello, what are the opening days? i will travel to cefalonia on 6,7,8 april, should be open?

    • Carmen Edelson

      I know it’s open in the summer season during the hours of 09:00 – 19:00 from 01 May – 30 October, winter season opening likely to be Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 – 16:00, 01 November – 03 April. I would call 26740 22997 to confirm winter hours.

  25. Petru
    Reply

    I will visit Argostoli on 1st June also by Royal Caribbean of course! Would like to visit both caves by taxi as I like to always plan my own excursions but I have great difficulty in planning this one! Would a taxi be reliable as we are in port only from 12 and reboard by 6.30? And about cost? Lovely pics, Petru

    • Carmen Edelson

      We also were on a Royal Caribbean Mediterranean Cruise, and Argostoli was one of our stops. I don’t remember why we didn’t book thru the ship. We ended up paying a taxi around $100 euros to take us to the cave round trip. It helped that I spoke a little Greek, because our driver spoke no English. He waited for us and then took us back to the ship. We drove by Myrtos Beach and stopped for ice cream in the town of either Assos or Fiskardo. I was stressed out the whole time worried that we were going to miss the ship. It might be in your best interest to book this shore excursion with the ship.

    • Carmen Edelson

      We also were on a Royal Caribbean Mediterranean Cruise, and Argostoli was one of our stops. I don’t remember why we didn’t book thru the ship. We ended up paiding a taxi around $100 euros to take us to the cave round trip. It helped that I spoke a little Greek, because our driver spoke no English. He waited for us and then took us back to the ship. We drove by Myrtos Beach and stopped for ice cream in the town of either Assos or Fiskardo. I was stressed out the whole time worried that we were going to miss the ship. It might be in your best interest to book this shore excursion with the ship.

  26. Carmen Edelson
    Reply

    I couldn’t agree more, it’s a perfect destination!

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