The coastal villages of Aghia Marina, Korakas and Spitha on the Malea Peninsula in southern Laconia, are best known for the awesome petriﬁed stumps of a Palaeolithic forest, testament of a very distant past. Visiting the petriﬁed forest is an absolute must as there are not many of its kind around the world.
The petriﬁed forest of Cavo Malia is a miracle of nature, a monument of legendary proportions. It is unique because it represents the ﬁrst time that so many trunks were discovered together in one location, and also because the 2-3 million-year-old stumps were not petriﬁed by volcanic ash, as is more normally the case, but were calciﬁed by the rising sea. Most of the trees were palms, though there are also a number of coniferous and leafy species as well. The surviving stumps are from half to a full metre thick and up to two metres high.
If you enjoy exploring, you will ﬁnd other parts of the petriﬁed forest along the long coastal expanse that starts in Aghia Marina in Cavo Malia and stretches all the way to Kambo Voion and Elafonissos. The most interesting parts, however, are those found below Aghia Marina (the path is well sign-posted) and just east of Korakas, which boasts the tallest trunk, dubbed by the locals as “the man.” Some of the trunks are in the water and riddled with holes through which the waves rush, spewing out the top as though from a geyser. Throughout the coast and deeper into the ﬁelds you will see oaks and pistachio trees growing in ground that is rich with shells, starﬁsh, crabs and plenty of fossils. A team from the University of Athens led by Professor Evangelos Velitselos that studies the petriﬁed forest has preserved 33 petriﬁed stumps in Aghia Marina and Korakas by waterprooﬁng them so that they do not suﬀer any further water damage. If you’ve brought a mask and snorkel along, you must dive in and explore the parts of the forest that are submerged.