When I first went to Agios Nikolaos, it was a small fishing village, with a miniscule seafront lined with the town’s supermarket, a couple of restaurants with the tables and chairs overlooking the tiny harbour, and not much else.

We were in a beautiful villa organized through Voyages Ilena, very spacious and airy, with tiled floors, stone walls and wooden shutters that made it feel nice and cool. 

I wrote at the time: “Our one-year old — now asleep under the mosquito net supplied with the villa — did not exactly like the water, but she had a great time hugging the warm sand! Well, it is not her first experience of the sea, but she was quite apprehensive, the sides of her mouth turning down and eyes casting around dolefully for Mummy, and that was only when we put her feet in! But on the beach itself she was in seventh heaven, hugging the heated sand, pushing herself back in it with her whole body against it, and smiling and waving to all and sundry. Of course an instant hit with people on the beach”.

Times change, but Agios Nikolaos is still pretty much as it was nearly two decades ago. It’s still little more than a hamlet, although there are probably more package tours heading there than in the past. But nothing like the mass tourism that has spoiled parts of the Greek Islands and nearby Turkey.

Sly in to Kalamata airport, and head southeast through olive groves and stalls selling huge bags of oranges and other local fruits such as water melon. The waterfront at Agios Nikolaos is surrounded by traditional coffee shops or “kafenaeon” where you can sit and while away a few leisurely hours doing nothing much: reading a book, people-watching or sipping a cold beer.

The town overlooks the Gulf of Messinia, and Pantazi beach is just a short walk down the coast. If you are feeling more adventure, catch a boat to nearby Methoni and visit the 13th century castle; or head to the cave of Diros and stop en route at Karavostavi, a traditional fishing village where you can still find restaurants offering delicious but simple lunch.