Since thermometers are beginning to display higher and higher temperatures, the question arises once again: ‘where are we going this summer?’ Fortunately, I got you covered. This is the place where reality looks better than Photoshopped images. Enjoy my top 5 places to visit on Zante Island!
Zakynthos Island is claimed to be the most picturesque island of the Ionian Sea, a combination of beautiful beaches and villages hidden in the pine covered mountains, surrounded by the turquoise sea and underwater caves. Its diverse landscape has resulted in a variety of beaches: from wide, sandy ones where you can relax, enjoying one of many Grecian cocktails, to rugged cliffs, where you can do water jumps, rope jumps or even bungee jumping. Snorkelling is a main attraction on the Mediterranean island, as you might be accompanied by the Caretta-Caretta sea turtles or dolphins. The island is also abundant in nature, as throughout the years a variety of flowers and Mediterranean herbs created unique hues of pastel greens and aromatic fragrances.
5. GERAKAS BEACH
Situated in the South of Laganas bay, the beach is the place where the Caretta-Caretta turtles have their nests. They come to lay their eggs here at night time, when the access on the beach is restricted because until recently only 1 hatch-lings out of 1000 would manage to survive due to human interaction. Even if you need to be very careful while on the beach, walking along the beach and spotting the turtle nests is an unforgettable experience. It’s quite surreal to discover that just last night in the same spot where you are sunbathing, there was a massive sea turtle laying her eggs (the nests have information plates attached to them).
4. THE WINDMILLS
Located in Skinari, in the far north of the island, the windmills are the perfect place to go for a breath-taking retreat, away from the hustle of the touristic areas of Zante. The best way to access this place is by car or a rented boogie, as the road is steep and scouters are not able to climb this terrain. There are two old flour-grinding windmills, which have been transformed into private living spaces. Placed on the top of the cliff, they oversee the horizon of the Aegean Sea. There are stairs that lead into the sea and the locals are promising me that I will have the swim of my life because at the bottom you can explore more caves similar to the Blue Caves, where water is translucent blue.
3. BLUE CAVES
The locals say that whoever swims at Blue Caves at the sunrise will be transformed into a Smurf! This joke developed the azure shades create an optical illusion and every object that is submerged in the water borrows its unreal hues. Weather you become a Smurf or not, if you opt for the private boat tour you will be able to swim deep into the caves. The abrupt abyss that forms underneath you might give you chills though. However, the caves can only be visited when the sea is calm.
2. NAVAGIO BEACH
This is the most spectacular beach of Zakynthos which can be only accessed by the sea. It is famous for its electric blue water, resulting from the numerous surrounding sulphurous caves. You can only visit the beach in the morning as later on the day the sea usually becomes bigger and agitated, making sailing very difficult. Also, instead of booking a tour boat with other 20-30 tourists (in this case you will have around 20 minutes to spend on the beach) , I recommend you a private tour (between 5-6 people) that will cost you around 30€/pp and will also include the tour of Blue Caves. You cannot leave Zakynthos without admiring the beach from the panoramic view balcony, situated above the beach, on the mountain. Of course we preferred to climb even higher on the mountain in places that are not very accessible...
1. PLAKAKI BEACH
To go here, you must be driven by adrenaline, as this is the place where you meet, face and forget your fears. We managed to get to this magical spot where the sharpness of the rocks is embraced by the deepest, unimagible azure shades, after a few hours of off-road driving on our ATV and another hour of cliff climbing. Plakaki beach is a piece of heaven known only by a few locals and while other tourists who reached it where too fear-driven by the spiky rocks surrounded by the isolating sea, we jumped from one cliff to the other, explore the clif’s edges and lay on the sharp land, too adrenaline rushed to care.
In Zakynthos you are always surrounded by sea taverns and intimate, traditional restaurants, where you encounter more than a culinary experience. You usually get to meet the owner and his family who help running the place. The Greek cuisine includes many types of fresh-caught seafood specialities, mousaka and souvlaki. The Greek salads, known for their freshness and abundance in herbs, the olives and extra virgin olive oil alongside the feta cheese taste completely different here, as the owner explains to me that most of the taverns’ owners are also farmers, having their own production. His wife jumps into conversation, offering to us some of her extra virgin olive oil with oranges and basil to taste. You can experience best this type of personal connection in the North of Zakynthos where the isolated villages are surrounded by pine trees and grape yards.