I don't think I can say it any
more plainly than this: GO
TO THE DIROS CAVES!!!!!!!!!!!
The images of my two trips through these underground
waterways are etched in my mind forever. Good thing too because
none of my photos came out and the postcards you see don't do them
justice. The Diros Caves are perhaps the most important natural
site in Greece and in their own way as spectacular as the caldera
of Santorini. The Paleolithic and Neolithic artifacts found
here, many of which are in display in the museum, mean that the
caves were one of the earliest inhabited places in Greece. The known part
of the caves cover an area of around 33000 square meters of
which only 5000 square meters have been explored. Some say that
the caves go even further, maybe as far as Mount Tagetos and Sparta.
Located at the top of the Mani between the
town of Pirgos Dirou and Areopolis the entrance is a few meters
above the sea and a beautiful stone beach. When you arrive at the
Caves you buy your 15 euro ticket at the booth and continue driving
to the parking lot just outside the entrance. Try to get here early
especially in the summer. In the off season you should also come
early because it closes early. When you enter the cave you will
walk down a stairway to an underground lake where there are boats
waiting. You are given a life-vest and then each boat gets a guide
who uses poles to journey through the caverns and tunnels, which
are eerily lit and adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, many
with interesting names. You will pass through some sections just
wide enough to allow your boat, where you have to duck your head
and then enter into an enormous subterranean room where you can
hear the voices of people on other boats in the distance. The air
is a comfortable seventy degrees at any time of the year (so bring
a sweater or light jacket if you tend to get cold).
Some guidebooks warn people with claustrophobia
that this may not be for them. Possibly not, but it would be a shame
to miss it so maybe take whatever you need to get on an airplane.
I did not find it scary at all until I read in Frommers about the
giant eels that live there. (I asked and there are no giant eels.)
If there is someone in your group who has a fear of caves they can
go to the museum while the rest of your group goes into the cavern.
The boat trip takes around half an hour and then there is a ten
minute walk to the exit. The price is a little high for a half-hour
tour but with some things you can't think about what it costs. You
just have to do it. This is one of them.
Helpful Travel Information
The Diros caves are just an hour from Gythion so stay there. Here is a list of Gythion hotels with photos and reviews. You can also stay in the town of Aereopolis in the Mani which is even closer than Githeon and you can find hotels there by clicking here. It's a cool place to stay and some of the hotels are the historic towers that the area is known for.
You can do the Diros Caves as a day trip with George
the Famous Taxi Driver but it is about
a 4 hour drive from Athens so it is better to do it as an overnight
trip. For car rentals see www.greektravel.com/swift
Pictures don't do them justice but just to
give you some idea I have included these postcards.
click on them to enlarge.