Kefalonia also spelled as Kephallinia, Cefalonia, Cephalonia, Kephalonia and Kefallinia is the largest of the Ionian islands. Lying eight miles N of Zakynthos and six miles S of Lefkas, it is separated from the smaller island of Ithaca on the E side by a narrow channel. Within a total area of 688 square kms it encompasses several mountain ranges, of which the highest, Mount Enos, is 1,626 metres above sea level. A beautiful island, Kefalonia boasts a number of lovely beaches around its coasts, including the spectacular Myrtos beach on the NW coast. Inland, many of its slopes are covered with vineyards producing the Robola white and red wines for which the island is renowned. Kefalonia has a thriving tourist trade, boosted more recently by the success of the novel Captain Corellias Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, which is based around the massacre of 3,000 Italian troops by Nazi forces on the island in 1943.
In 1953 the island was struck by a major earthquake which devastated most of its towns and villages, and the evidence of the destruction is still to be seen today in many parts of the island.
Yachts cruising the island mostly tend to sail down the E coast, where there are sheltered harbours at Fiskardo, Ayia Eufimia, Sami and Poros, or the more exposed W coast, where there is only one settled weather harbour at Assos before the harbours of Argostoli and Lixouri in the Gulf of Argostoli at the SW end of the island. Prevailing winds are mostly from the NW or W and only occasionally above force 5 - 6, in which conditions all the E coast harbours are safe, although gusts are experienced in Ayia Eufimia and some swell in Sami and Poros. Assos is untenable in strong W or NW winds. In Lixouri and Argostoli shelter can be found in all conditions.