Sommer Swim sisters Kat and Yianna Velos exude summer-inducing style and vivacious energy. Their colour-soaked IG feed caught our eye, as did their alluring Golden Groves brand. Offering 100% Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and premium grade River Beluga Caviar. Discover the duo’s insider guide to the idyllic Mani Peninsula in Southern Greece, the summer trends they can’t get enough of, and where their Sommer Swim takes them..
We are Kat and Yianna Velos, the co-founders of Golden Groves which is an Australian lifestyle brand with Greek roots. We started importing our family’s olive oil from the south of Greece in order to share the philosophy behind Golden Groves, which is quite simply put, the art of living well.
The Mani Peninsula is not a holiday destination known to most travellers who frequent Greece. Located in a quiet peninsula in the southern Peloponnese region, its sprawling mountains and immaculate beaches often fool people into believing that Mani is an island, rather than attached to the mainland.
A two-hour drive from the capital, Mani is a haven away from the hustle and heat of Athens. A famed region within Greece, Mani is known for her rugged terrain and traditional stone-clad houses perched high atop the mountains with views overlooking the impossibly azure Mediterranean.
The lifestyle in Mani is of supreme contentment - it’s beautiful to simply exist here and not chase the next beach bar or villa party. Quiet fishing boats bob in the harbour of most seaside villages, and locals mill about their local coffee shops, cigarettes pressed between their lips, prayer beads in hand and coffees firmly standing on the table. An old-world charm captures your heart as you navigate through many of the tiny villages secretly tucked away behind endless olive groves. Freshly caught octopus hangs to dry outside many of the local fish taverns, fulfilling a nostalgia to experience the authenticity of Greece outside the better-known islands.
Life is slow-paced here, so much so that each sunrise and sunset blends into the next in a way that makes you feel as if life is one endless summer. The local Maniot people are kindhearted and generous, and love to welcome people into their taverns and homes and to hear about life far from their idyllic paradise.
WHAT TO DO
Mani is the ultimate beach hopping destination and so many secluded beaches are accessible by car. Every year we embark on what we call “The round Trip of Mani” where we explore each and every beach we come across on our drive through the olive tree-lined mountains. Some we have visited many times and some we continue to uncover year on year. Our favourite beaches are Skoutari Beach, Alipa and Limeni.
In Ancient Greek mythology, Mani was fabled to be the entrance to the underworld and the home of Hades. You can visit this mythological entrance and see ancient mosaics by travelling to Tenaron, a secluded part of Mani with crystal clear waters.
Where to sleep
The Mani Peninsula is known for its characteristic stone buildings and olive trees that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. We love to stay in traditional hotels in smaller towns and villages in the area. We recommend staying at “100 Rizes Seaside Resort” which is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The hotel is located in our favourite town of the region, Skoutari, and has its own private beach area for moments of privacy and relaxation. Other notable places to stay in the region which we love are Salvia in Kardamyli and Kyrimai Hotel in Gerolimenas.
Where to eat?
You will struggle to not have a meal in Mani that blows your mind. Greek tavern food is centred around fresh, local produce and the catch of the day. We love eating seafood at seaside taverns. Our favourite tavern is Kalamakia Taverna in Skoutari Beach. Be sure to order the “kolokithokeftedes” which are Greek feta and zucchini fritters. They are our absolute favourite dish on the menu!
Some of our other favourite restaurants in the area include O Takis in Limeni and Fish Tavern Katsikaros “Agia Varvara” in Skoutari.
What to wear?
We have both been living in our Sommer Swim bikinis whilst vacationing in Mani. We love to accessorise our swim with printed Sommer Swim sarongs, platform sandals, sunglasses and a colourful crotchet beach bag. We have been elevating our beach look with gold and shell-embellished jewellery to add that extra effortless but stylish touch.
Favourite Summer 2022 trends?
This year is the summer of bright, block-coloured swimwear, patterned sarongs, crotchet beach bags, vintage sunglasses and platform sandals. Our favourite trend of the season is definitely platform sandals. We are seeing flat-form sandals, wedged flip-flops and platform crocs all over Europe. They’re the perfect footwear to take you from the beach to the club. We’ve been wearing platform crocs whilst walking on the cobblestone streets of the Cyclades and changing to flat-form sandals when we hit the beach bars in Mykonos.
FAVOURITE PIECES FROM THE MAISON MOOREA COLLECTION?
A Greek summer is not complete without a colourful pair of bikinis. We are drawn to light and bright colours, as they bring out our bronzed, sun-kissed skin. Our favourite pieces from Sommer Swim’s Maison Moorea collection are the Cece Bandeau Bikini Top and Gigi Cheeky Bikini Bottoms in Chile. Also the Xena Halter Bikini Top and matching Naomi Tie Side Bikini Bottom in Rum and Profumo.
Where does Sommer Swim take you?
I love wearing the Lumi Algeria Sarong Wrap Skirt when venturing from the beach to the local tavern as it picks up the pink hues on my favourite Profumo pink bikinis. Kat loves the Camille Halter Mini Dress in Leopard Floral as it matches perfectly with the Rum hue of her bikinis. This collection truly has the perfect pieces to wear whilst sailing across the Cyclades, soaking up the sun in Hydra, Greece or dining at your local tavern in the Mani Peninsula.
Summer to you means...
Summer is when time stands still and each day rolls into the next. Summer means deep tan lines from days spent exploring hidden beaches, plates of fresh vegetables and seafood, and endless laughs over cool carafes of house wine with those you love most. For us, the best summers are spent by the sea, always.