The cluster of islands that dominate the horizon are collectively known as the Inousses Islands. They consist of four main islands, running east to west: Venetiko, Schiza, Agios Marina and Sapienza. Boat trips to the islands are organized either from Finikounda, or Methoni.
You can book a tour from a short cruise to a full day out. The most popular trips are to deserted beaches on the islands or the inaccessible beach of Marathi back on the mainland. Here is a brief summary of what each island has to offer:
The largest of the Inousses is Schiza, at 12 square kilometres. Its most interesting feature is a cave system known as Mavri Trypa, or the Black Hole, where pre-historic pottery sherds have been discovered. Much of it is unexplored and access is difficult. To the west of Schiza is the smaller island of Agia Marina, which bears a modern church of the same name. It is visited by pilgrims from the mainland on its Saint’s day on 17th July. Other small islands that make up the Inousses are Bomba (Bomb) and Dio Delfia (the Two Brothers) that surround Sapienza. Sapienza is the most interesting, and most visited, of the group of islands. There used to be a Benedictine monastery on the island, whose remains have now disappeared. It was here in 1209 that the treaty ceding Methoni and Koroni from the Franks to the Venetians was signed. The waters around the island have a more ancient history and many ships have been wrecked around it. Just to the north of the island a Roman sarcophagus can still be seen in the depths. A great place for snorkelling!
The island is also home to two endangered species. The first of these is the Kri Kri, or Cretan wild goat. Native to the White Mountains in Crete a number were transported to Sapienza in order to help preserve their existence. They are brown with a darker band around their necks and swept back horns and they can be very elusive in the forest. Easier to spot are the Mouflon Sheep. The males are also brown but with light patches and large, ram-like horns. The females resemble small deer. The best place to see these is on the lovely little beach of Ammos, on the north coast of the island. A handsome lighthouse, 18m tall, crowns the south coast of Sapienza. It was built by the British in the 1890s. Southeast of this point is the Well of the Inousses, one of the deepest points in the Mediterranean at 5,121 metres. Not so good for snorkelling!