Mani Peninsula, Greece

I'd like to explore the Mani peninsula for a few days while in Greece. I'm trying to, first, figure how to get there from Athens or from one of the Cyclades. Is there anyway to go from any of the Cyclades islands close to Gythion by ferry, or do I have to go back through Pireas port? If there is no water option, what's the best land travel? I would prefer not to drive from Athens, but I haven't yet been able to find good information on trains or buses that would get me to the peninsula. Anyone have any experience there?
thanks much!

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