Hakuna Matata Holidays

In brief: what to expect?

At Hakuna Matata Holidays we offer you a stay in one of our unique wooden caravans, positioned in the midst of our olive grove, with full air conditioning, comfortable beds, compact but complete bathroom, veranda, outdoor kitchen and lounge area. Behind our own stone house are two pools (8 x 4 x 1, 5 m with jet stream and 2.5 x 2.5 x 0.50 with Jacuzzi).

Hakuna Matata Holidays is located in the Peloponnese, Greece and offers wonderful holidays to families; with an emphasis on those with special needs, together or occasionally separately. We offer a relaxed atmosphere with attention to personal needs. A small place where guests can go their own way and make an inspirational day of every day. With our unique nanny service we ensure special needs are cared for. Everyone is welcome; we emphasise an inclusive environment where each person is unique. Each can give their day their own interpretation; our environment invites exploration and enjoyment.

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Some children require more attention and guidance; this is where our added value comes into its own. Where it is desired or needed, we offer our nanny service. For instance, a day trip that is not suitable or tempting for all family members, we can offer a full day’s programme for family members who would rather not join the family trip. Alternatively we can arrange a splendid day/evening for the child/children allowing a day or evening of quality time for parents.

Who are we?

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We are Jan van den Heuvel and Will van den Heuvel-Kastelijn.

We discovered this area in 2007. An environment where we felt welcome and at home very quickly by the courtesy of the wonderful Greek hospitality; this is  why we decided our future had to be in this part of Greece. In the outskirts of Finiki, close to Methoni. With it’s shops for daily necessities, a nice collection of restaurants and kafenions. By the way: it’s very affordable to have lunch or dinner in a restaurant in Greece!
For us it was clear from the start that we wanted to build our own house. After Jan thoroughly searched for a suitable piece of land, he found this wonderful olive grove. A magnificent view in all directions, some slices of Mediterranean sea, the mountains of Agios Nikolaos in the West, the mountains behind Pylos, the plains to the East, many olive trees and a slice of state forest. We see birds of prey circling above,  we hear foxes in the evening barking, sounds of  bird song, the chirp of the cicadas, the incredible silence, clarity and infinity of the universe at new moon. Our piece of heaven on earth we like to share with our guests.

Jan sailed some 10 years on merchant ships on the ‘tramp’. The last 20 years in Holland he has had his own carpentry workshop and created beautiful interiors for his clientele. He personally build the wooden caravans on our site.

Will worked for more than 10 years as a dental assistant and also 10 years as an account manager in stationary and merchandise items. In later life she took up studies to be a teacher and she took a Master’s degree in Special Educational Needs. In total, Will worked for 10 years in a secondary school for children with special needs.

Together we have a daughter, in her youth she needed a lot more help than any school or teacher could offer. Her development didn’t follow the accepted norm and therefore we have gained plenty of practical experience alongside our theoretical knowledge. We believe this to be of great added value for your stay. Our dream is to develop a superb holiday destination where everyone feels welcome and create happy holidays for every member of the family who visit us, at our fabulous olive grove.

Mission

Hakuna Matata Holidays offers its guests a care-free and high-quality stay on our site. Our passion is for the world of children, particularly those with special needs. We like to make sure that they feel safe, and from there they can explore the surroundings and are able to totally relax at Hakuna Matata Holidays.

Vision

The Mission of Hakuna Matata Holidays is specified in the vision. The vision gives a comprehensive and focused overview of how we operate. In cooperation with the children, the parents and/or the escorts we identify everyone’s wishes, we discuss the possibilities, our focus and create a plan.

Children with special needs are our focus: Children who by personal circumstances, such as a disorder, (high or low) giftedness, high sensitivity, who are missing the connection with other children and/or adults and their environment. We recognise the needs and desires of both the parents and the children so they feel comfortable and will be able to enjoy their time at Hakuna Matata Holidays. Unfortunately due to the landscape on our site we are unable to accommodate  guests who are totally dependent on wheelchair use.

Passion for the world of children is our focus: Based on the capabilities of the children, we encourage their ideas and wishes. We give responsibility where it is possible, support where it is needed. We offer involvement, empathy and enthusiasm together with suitable guidance and encouragement.

Worry-free is our focus: Parents and children can feel free of worries at Hakuna Matata Holidays; we are doing everything within our  power to make your stay as pleasant as possible.

High-quality is our focus:
The accommodation and amenities of Hakuna Matata Holidays are made of the best available materials and we are pro-active in our maintenance.
We should take care of our planet. There is no Planet B!
Electricity is provided by solar panels and rainwater is captured to water the olive grove and garden.
In our olive grove, no pesticides or insecticides are used.
An open, honest and clear communication in response to requests, quoting and invoicing.

Safety is our focus: All guests, visitors and staff of Hakuna Matata Holidays deal respectfully with each other and the facilities, especially the animals.
We accept and respect others, see diversity as added value and each one confers the same rights and obligations. We expect our guests to adopt the same attitude when they stay on our site.
All our amenities are pro-actively maintained and regularly tested for safety.

Exploration means: ‘to do investigations, carry out and do research, especially discover something’. We encourage children to explore and investigate their surroundings, to stimulate their senses and extend their horizons.

Relaxation is our focus: Unwind, achieve a sense of peace and balance through enjoyable activities in an inspirational environment. In harmony with the region and from a holistic perspective, Hakuna Matata Holidays provides a wonderful stay in calm, stimulating and beautiful surroundings.

Why this name?

We have thought long and hard about all kinds of names. English names, incorporating combinations of the service that we seek to offer, in creative cocktails. None of them encapsulated what we really mean to say. One of us, at our wits end, sighed: ‘ Hakuna Matata ‘, and thus the name of our dream was created.

Hakuna Matata is a Swahili expression (an East African language) and means as much as:

No worries. No trouble. There are no concerns/problems, only challenges.

Source: found on 29-05-2016 on: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakuna_matata

Our company name covers all aspects of what we want to offer to our guests. No worries, there are no worries or problems, just challenges. The link with the Disney movie The Lion King is quickly made and recognizable for children and parents. Our challenge is to offer our guests a wonderful, worry free time at Hakuna Matata, under the motto ‘no worries’.

The Environment

Finiki

Hakuna Matata Holidays is part of the village of Finiki , a small community only 1 km away. There is a taverna which serves food and drink,  at the same time acting as a meeting point of the villagers, mini store and post-collection point. By car you are within 5 minutes in Finiki, on foot it takes you 20 minutes on the road.

Methoni

Methoni (also Mothone, Methone, Pedasos in Homer’s time) is a small seaport town in Messinia on the southwest side of the Peloponnese. In 10 minutes you drive to Methoni.

Methoni is located at a distance of 5 kilometers, at the sea. In Methoni there are many restaurants  and hotels, shops, kafenions, cosy squares with terraces, sometimes in the shade of a beautiful plane tree. The beach which stretches along the entire bay, runs very gradually into the water, ideal for children. Adjacent to the village is  the beach with, during the summer season, lovely sun beds and a tropical-looking beach bar. Walking to the west, the large Venetian fortress immediately stands out. The walk below the foundations of the fort along the moorings of the fishing boats, brings us to a nice swimming spot: Asprades, a stretch of sea with white sand on the bottom where the water is wonderfully fresh.
Walking eastwards the beach first becomes a little quieter, followed by a busier section at the seaside campsite of Methoni.
A little bit further is a small peninsula where the friendly beach bar ‘Koutrounakia‘ is located with beach beds and umbrellas.
The recreation in this bay consists of windsurfing, snorkelling, fishing, swimming, beach volleyball, beach badminton, sunbathing and walking. This beach is quiet and relaxing. No speedboats or watercraft.

The biggest attraction of Methoni is the ruin of the Venetian fortress from the 14th century. Beautiful walks can be made on the site with surprising views over the sea or the village. The fortress is of great historical interest by the many people who have visited it.

History of Methoni

Methoni was already mentioned in Homer’s Iliad as Pedasos. The city was an important port in ancient times because of its natural harbor. She joined Pylos during the second Messianic war until 620 BC. retained as the last stronghold of the Messenians against Sparta, but then fell to 370 BC. under the rule of Sparta. In 431 BC. Athens tried unsuccessfully to conquer the city.

During the Roman civil wars Marcus Antonius reinforced Methoni, but Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa conquered it before the battle of Actium. The Roman emperor Traianus declared Methoni in the beginning of the 2nd century to free city. During the Byzantine and Venetian period (from 1124) the city was strengthened with powerful, today very well maintained city walls. In 1498 the Ottomans conquered the city, and from 1686 to 1715 Methoni fell again for a short time under the rule of Venice. During the Greek war of independence, the city was destroyed in 1825, but was liberated by French troops in 1827 and handed over to Greece.

Pylos

At a distance of about 15 kilometers you find the somewhat larger town Pylos, where the municipality of Pylos-Nestor is located for this region. In Pylos we also find a fortress; more restored than that of Methoni. Since the 13th century there is already construction on this site, the Franks, Venetians and Turks have made use of it. In 1827, by a great maritime battle, in Pylos began the battle that put an end to the 400 years of domination by the Ottomans. In Pylos there are several shops, banks, wonderfully cool terraces under enormous plane trees, a hospital, pharmacy, telephone shop etc.
For your grocery shopping you find 2 larger supermarkets in Pylos, Yperagora and AB-foodmarket. You reach Pylos in 20 minutes when you drive by car.

Finikounda

10 kilometers to the east of Methoni, in the direction of Koroni, is the village of Finikounda. A more touristic village with many restaurants, shops, a cosy little harbour and sandy Foinikounda Beach. It took its name from the  picturesque village of Foinikounda which is now a renowned tourist destination of the Peloponnese. It is convenient for families with small children and for anyone who chooses to have everything at a close distance! Right above the beach and along the coast you will find plenty of cafés and fish taverns, along with other shops for your daily needs. Especially in the evenings there is a lot of fun and a lively crowd in the streets.  Finikounda is about 15 minutes by car.
Further to the east lies the town of Koroni. Together with Methoni, these ports were the ‘eyes’ of Messinia in Venetian times. Koroni is a pretty village with a lively harbour with beautiful walks along the shore and to the higher positioned fortified monastery.

Koroni

Koroni is a small fortress town on the tip of the most Western peninsula of the Peloponnese.  Koroni has about 3000 inhabitants. From Hakuna Matata it’s about 45 minutes drive.
Koroni is a pleasant small town where one can discover Greek life. On the highest point one finds the Venetian castle with a magnificent view over the Gulf of Messinia. During the 6th and 7th century the Byzantines built the castle of Koroni, which was strengthened by the Venetians. During this period, Koroni was one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1500, the fort was taken over by the Ottomans. Apart from a brief period (the Venetians returned and gained domination (1686-1715)), Koroni remained under the control of the Ottoman Empire until 1828. After the liberation Koroni became part of the modern Greek State. Below the fortress and the monastery is the picturesque town with a small harbour. A number of tavernas on the port side invite you for a relaxing fish lunch. On the other side of the hill you can find nice beaches.

 

Sapientza Island

Sapientza island is located just off the southern coast of Messinia. It is very near Methoni, where you can catch a boats to make the crossing.

The boat will drop you off wherever you ask the captain. If you want a hike to Spartolaka, the lighthouse or a swim at Ammos beach . Spartolaka is positioned at the centre of the island, a large expanse of cracked clay and petrified pollen that forms a very distinct landscape. The slopes of Sapientza are covered in wild olive trees, spiny broom, thick wild oaks, phillyrea shrubs, Holm oak, myrtle and wildflowers that smell just lovely. Above it all, right in the centre of the island is a dense and magical forest of wild strawberries. But these are no bushes of the kind that most people are accustomed to. These are trees, growing as high as 10 and 15 metres, with strawberries as big as crab-apples. The woods and oak forests of Sapientza are inhabited by small flocks of wild mouflon sheep and Cretan goats known as kri-kri, as well as partridges, pheasants, quails, wood pigeons, woodcocks, thrushes and other birds. Make sure to bring along a pair of binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens to capture snaps of the wildlife in its natural habitat. For a panoramic view take the path that leads to the lighthouse. The stone-built Sapientza Lighthouse was constructed in 1890 and has been in operation in modern days since 1989 using photovoltaic panels, which means that it is not manned.

Beaches on the South coast of Messinia

Methoni beach

The beach which stretches along the entire bay, runs very gradually into the water, ideal for children. Adjacent to the village is  the beach with, during the summer season, lovely sun beds and a tropical-looking beach bar. To the west, along the moorings of the fishing boats, brings us to a nice swimming spot: Asprades, a stretch of sea with white sand on the bottom where the water is wonderfully fresh. Eastwards the beach first becomes a little quieter, followed by a busier section at the seaside campsite of Methoni. A little bit further is a small peninsula where the friendly beach bar ‘Koutrounakia’ is located with beach beds and umbrellas. The recreation in this bay consists of windsurfing, snorkelling, fishing, swimming, beach volleyball, beach badminton, sunbathing and walking. This beach is quiet and relaxing. No speedboats or watercraft.

Lampes beach

Lampes Beach is one of the most well-known beaches of Messenia. Lampes Beach offers visitors a comfortable stay as it is a pretty organized beach. Apart from their swim, tourists can also enjoy traditional food and nice coffee. There are deck chairs along the greatest part of the beach, but there is also abundant free space for those who prefer to bring their own sunshade.

Lampes Beach is only a few kilometres outside Methoni. As you are driving on the national road towards Foinikounda, you will find the beach on your right hand following the coastline. Lampes beach has sandy beaches and their waters are pretty shallow. They are suitable for small children.

Finikounda beach

Foinikounda has a sandy beach. It took its name from the  picturesque village of Foinikounda which is now a renowned tourist destination of the Peloponnese. It is convenient for families with small children and for anyone who chooses to have everything at a close distance!

Tsapi beach

The beautiful beach of Tsapi is found on the western side of the Koroni peninsula, about 12 km away from Foinikounda. Towards the city of Koroni you will see a relevant sign on your right hand as you are driving on the main road. Follow the downhill winding road and you will find the beach at the end of the road. You will find an organised camping facility a few metres away from the beach and two fully-equipped taverns for their coffee or lunch. Fine golden sand and a strip of large pebbles cover the seashore.

Marathi beaches

On the site of Marathi, there are actually two beaches: the Small and Big Marathi, which are both really beautiful and as remote as necessary in order for the visitors to secure their privacy. Both beaches are not easily accessible by road. Marathi is accessible by sea; it would be wise to have all the necessary supplies with you, mainly water and food.

Koroni beaches

Koroni has  several beaches to choose from.


Memi beach has golden sand and clear waters, it is set up with umbrellas and sun lounges, a volley ball and soccer court and across the road you will find a taverna.


Kalamaki beach, one of the busiest in the area, has fine sand and crystal clear waters. Its main attraction, however, is the rusty shipwreck at the beach.


At Peroulia beach you can play around with the fine, golden sand and enjoy icy cold coffees or refreshing beverages from the beach bar that operates on the beach.


Kolonides beach is quiet and it is not organized. It has golden sand and is surrounded by trees and cliffs. The beach can be accessed from a dirt road.


Gargarou beach is ideal for those after a more secluded environment. It stands out because its brown-colored pebbles. As you enter Koroni and head towards the Castle, you will come across a small, but beautiful beach with pebbles, rocks and crystal clear waters. You can take a dip there under the imposing castle. 

Gialova
This small picturesque settlement will charm its visitors. The natural beauty of the Gialova lagoon and Voïdokilia in the northwest, the extraordinary beaches and the history of the wider area offer you more than enough reasons to visit this village.
Today in Gialova tourism is the main economical activity. You will find here some good restaurants, cafes, bars and the amazing long organized golden beach of Gialova.
Gialova lagoon or Lake Divari

You can’t miss here the Gialova lagoon also known as Lake Divari, one of the most important hydro biotopes of Europe. It is a protected hydro biotope with rare species of flora and fauna. Here many migratory birds rest during their journey. This place is ideal for walking and also for bird-watching due to the numerous species of birds in this lagoon, especially during autumn, winter and spring.

Those who are interested in local traditions should visit the Folklore Museum of Gialova. Here Mr. Balafoutis collects cultural items from Gialova and the wider area. You will find here the tools of professions that no longer exist.
You can’t miss the Frankish Paliokastro. From the Kastro (established during the end of the 13th century AD) there’s an amazing view to Voidokoilia beach. Just below the castle is Nestor’s Cave which according to Greek Mythology was the place where Hermes hid the cattle he had stolen from Apollo.
About 12km away from Giavola you will find the Palace of Nestor. It is the best preserved Mycenaean palace in Greece. The numerous findings of the area are today in the Archaeological Museum of Chora, close to this area.

Beaches in the vicinity of Gialova

While you are in this area you have the incredible opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful beaches of the West-coast of the Peloponnese.

Gialova beach
The closest one is the organized Gialova beach. It is a long sandy beach, partly organized and ideal for families with children. Kite boarding and wind surfing are very popular in this beach due to the favourable northwest wind and the safety of the bay.

Golden beach
A little further from Gialova you will find one of the most popular around the area, the Golden beach.

Voïdokoilia beach.
It is an unorganized beach with exceptional natural beauty. You will not be able to resist this beautiful sandy beach with its turquoise water. The shape of this beach looks like the Greek letter “Ω”. A little further the Frankish Kastro on the hill will attract your attention.
About 8 km away from Gialova you could also visit Romanos beach and the nearby Petrochori beach. These beaches are partly organized, sandy and ideal for those who don’t like overcrowded beaches.

Activities in the vicinity of Gialova

Gialova is a great for hiking. Following the trail towards the Kalamari Waterfalls is definitely a rewarding experience. You can go walking across the coastline of Gialova. Also the path towards Paliokastro is a great hiking tour. In addition you could enjoy walking around the Gialova lagoon, which is also ideal for those who like bird-watching.

Diving, kite surfing, wind surfing you can enjoy on the nearby coasts.
In Gialova you can also find cruises or places to rent a boat.

Costa Navarino Golf resorts

Costa Navarino is steadily raising its profile as a prime, sustainable destination in the Mediterranean by additionally offering a world-class golf experience on the first two signature golf courses in Greece. Navarino Bay is to be found between Pylos and Gialova. Navarino Dunes is positioned near the village of Romanos. Their credentials are impressive: two 18-hole signature courses in idyllic settings plus great weather all year round. With everything from shoes and buggies to full sets of golf clubs available for hire, golfers can select an amazing golf package for their golf breaks in Greece and test their skills.

Kalamata

Kalamata is the capital of the province and is located in the south of Messinia on the Gulf of Messini. During a walk through the old centre you can see the results of the heavy earthquake that destroyed a large part of the city in 1986. The Kastro, the Nea Agora, the old train park and the harbor are interesting to visit. A must-do is the archaeological Museum in the old centre of the city. Kalamata has an airport that is increasingly being flown internationally. Kalamata is 1 hour and 15 minutes by car from our spot.

Province of Messinia
Messinia is the province to which the municipality of Pylos-Nestor belongs. In this area there is plenty of nature and culture to be seen and experienced.

There are beautiful waterfalls of Polilimnio near Kazarma along the road to Kalamata, 45 minutes by car.

Another beautiful walk along waterfalls starts from Stenosia down to Kalamaris. 40 minutes by car.

North of the modern town of Messini, is a beautiful excavation of Ancient Messini. From the adjacent, higher village of Mavrommati, you look down on the ancient temples. With a little imagination we see the priests, priestesses, warlords and people walking among the ancient ruins. You can wander around the site and enjoy nature and culture at the same time. The remains of this vast ancient city are as extensive as those of Olympia and Epidavros. Picturesquely situated on a hillside below the village of Mavromati and still undergoing excavation, the site comprises a large theatre, and a vast Sanctuary of Asclepius and the most intact and impressive of all Ancient Greek stadiums. Do visit the fortifications, which were based on a massive wall that stretched 9km around the surrounding ridges and completely enclosed the town. It’s a 1,5 hour drive to Ancient Messini. 

A 45 minutes drive to the north brings you to the Palace of Nestor. The well-preserved Mycenaean Palace in Greece is located in the area of Pylia and is the palace of the famous king of Pylos. The palace was built in the 13th century BC by King Nestor, who holds an important position in the Homeric epics. Nestor led Pylos to the Trojan War  with 90 ships and is presented by Homer as a wise old man, whose opinion was always respected by the Achaeans. The numerous archaeological findings from the site of the Palace of Nestor Archaeological Museum of Chora, as well as the Archaeological Museum of Messenia which is located in Kalamata.

Peloponnesos

The Peloponnese is the thirth  largest district in Greece after Macedonia and Central Greece. Peloponnese owes its name to the mythological figure Pelopas (Pelops). Peloponnese was a peninsula connected to the Greek mainland by the narrow Isthmus of Corinth. In the 19th century, the channel of Corinth was created in this Isthmus. Since then, Peloponnese is completely surrounded by water and thus actually an island.

The Peloponnese is a district with a large diversity of nature. Larger and smaller plains alternate between the high and somewhat lower mountain areas. From the mountains spring rivers, lakes and lagoons can be found in several places.

The Peloponnese has a very rich history. For four thousand years Peloponnese was a centre of important cultural developments in the Mediterranean. In every corner of the peninsula there are historical sites that date from different periods, from antiquity to the more recent centuries. In ancient times Olympia was the location where every four years all Greek tribes gathered to participate in the Olympic Games. Olympia is a 2,5 hour drive from Hakuna Matata Holidays.

Peloponnesos was named the best area to visit in the world in May 2016 by The Lonely planet.