Ahh, Zakynthos! That island alone makes Greece well worth visiting <3
This beautiful Greek island was one of the main reasons I decided to visit Greece this year (the other was the Melissani lake in Kefalonia).
Travelling to Greece turned out to be quite the adventure. I’ve been to Northern Greece when I was little and I was absolutely fascinated by the orange trees that were all around. The Ionian sea, however, quite stunned me with its beauty, even more than I expected.
Zakynthos has a few world-famous landmarks – the Shipwreck beach (or Navagio), the Blue Caves and the Turtle Island (Marathonissi). The Greek also call this beautiful island “Zante” for short, so don’t get confused if you hear this around. Or, you know, pretend you’re super-prepared and familiar and call it Zante as well 😀 The Venetians had possession of the island during the 15th-17th centuries and called it “The flower of the East“. No wonder, Zakynthos is absolutely breathtaking!
Getting to Zakynthos
Luckily, the island of Zakynthos has its own airport, which is located by the capital city – Zakynthos. If you do decide to travel from other parts of Greece, however, it might turn out to be a bit of a challenge. We decided to stay in Kefalonia and to go on a day trip to Zakynthos. I would highly recommend organized trips, if you can find such, since public transportation is very very limited on these Islands. On our day trip, we had to take:
- one rent-a-car from our hotel to the port (Pesada)
- the ferry from Kefalonia to Zakynthos
- another rent-a-car in Zakynthos
As you can see, there was quite a bit of logistics involved in visiting Zakynthos (unless your plane lands directly there). We got up at 5:40 am in order to be at the port at 7:15. There are only two ferries a day from Kefalonia to Zakynthos – one at 7:45 am and one at 6:00 pm. So, basically, we took the morning ferry and came back with the evening one.
However, if indeed you are going only on a 1 or 2-day trip to Zakynthos, make sure it is not the day before your flight leaves. If the weather is bad and if the waters are rough, the ferry might be cancelled. Yep, the island of Zakynthos is indeed the perfect place to be stranded and stuck in, but it would still be a great idea not to miss your flight. We met a wonderful woman from Venice when we were waiting for our ferry back, which was insanely worried whether the ferry would come at all, since her flight was early the next day. So – be smart and plan ahead!
Shipwreck Beach (Navagio)
And here it is – one of the most famous beaches in Greece – Navagio!
What is this ship doing here?
In late 1980s, a freightliner ran aground Navagio due to pretty bad visibility and stormy weather. It is rumored that this ship was actually a smuggling one and it was trying to escape the coastguard, as it was carrying cigarettes, wine and women (whaat? 😀 ). This is, in fact, how the famous Zakynthos beach got it’s name – the Shipwreck beach.
Swimming at the beach
Pro tip: Don’t wait on the long line – take the small path to the right for an even better view!
If you visit the Shipwreck beach in Zakynthos very early in the morning – bear in mind that it will be in the shadow (the sun rises behind it), so it might not be perfect for photos. The cliffs of this beach are 200 meters high! When we arrived at the Zakynthos port of Agios Nikolaos, we saw many street stands offering trips to the Blue Caves and Navagio, the Shipwreck beach, together. So we had a quick coffee to wake us up and went on one! Prices were between 30-40 euros per person for a 3-4 hour trip. The waters were quite rough, so actually the afternoon boat trips got cancelled, we managed to go on the last one (leaving at 10:30 am). If you get seasick, make sure to get some anti-motion sickness pills beforehand.
To swim in the dreamy blue waters of the Shipwreck beach in Zakynthos, you need to take a boat – the breathtaking cliff side is impenetrable by land. Naturally, we dove right in when we arrived! I was sooo glad I got my fins with me, since due to the rough waters and high current, it was pretty hard to get back to our boat. But it was well worth it swimming to that ship!
The view from above
Renting a car in Zakynthos is an absolute must – you cannot see the beach from above unless you have a vehicle (there is a parking up there, so no need to worry about that). The afternoon is the perfect time to do that, as you will see the beach in all its beauty, the sun will be perfectly aligned! A very very important tip – when you arrive, you’ll see a long line for the viewing platform. Don’t wait on it, it’s a waste of time! Instead, take the small path to the right. You’ll get an even better view, as the neighboring cove is visible from there too. But please, be careful and don’t take selfies near the edge of the Shipwreck beach. Safety first 🙂
The Blue Caves
After swimming in the perfect blue waters of the Shipwreck beach, our half-day trip continued to the blue caves. There, our very very skilled boat captain managed to enter into a few of the caves with the boat. The water inside was glowing with blue magic, take a look:
We parked the boat and went snorkeling in one of the calm coves. We even swam into one of the low-hanging caves to explore the inside. It was dark and cold, but soo exciting! I think I might be into cave diving now 😀
Turtle Island (Marathonissi)
If you have time, make sure not to miss Turtle Island! It is one of the places where the famous species of Caretta-Caretta turtles lays its eggs. This turtle can actually be spotted in a few places in Kefalonia as well, and the earlier in the morning you go, the better the chances are of spotting one. After seeing the giant tortoises in the Seychelles, I am the ultimate turtle fan <3 There are also organized half-day trips to the Turtle Island in Zakynthos, which can, again, be booked right on the spot.
Protect the environment!
Forest fires are a common sight in Zakynthos, unfortunately. Please be careful, don’t litter and pick up your trash. Don’t leave any lit items near the forests, otherwise you would be helping increase views like these:
So, what do you think about Zakynthos? Would you visit? <3 Let me know in the comments!