Zante or Zakynthos as it is known, is one of our favourite Greek islands. The southern most and reputedly sunniest of all the Ionian islands, Zante is also the most fertile, colourful and quite possibly the most beautiful too.
Fringed with magnificent sandy beaches (many with nothing more on their shores than a solitary taverna), lapped by crystal clear amethyst seas and with a backdrop of rugged mountains covered with forests and olive groves, few who visit could fail to be captivated by its natural charm. Experience this stunning island yourself with one of our Zante holiday villas.
The towns of the island bustle and thrive with everyday life. The capital Zante Town is so beautiful and full of the influence of its Italian ancestors that it is regularly referred to as 'The Venice of the South'.
Although not as typically Greek as some of its neighbours, Zante is rich in beauty and tradition, both historical and cultural and it is this, combined with the famous Zakynthian hospitality, that has visitors returning to its shores year after year - including the Loggerhead turtle! As one of the last remaining nesting sites of the endangered 'Carreta-Carreta', the dramatic Gerakas peninsular has recently been designated the first protected marine park in the Mediterranean.
As the capital of Zante, Zakynthos Town is the largest city on the south-east coast. Although it comes with its fair share of bars and restaurants, it’s more low-key than in the island's well-known party playgrounds. Instead, the focus is on relaxing, culture and sightseeing, museums, Orthodox churches and age-old castles are dotted throughout its compact, grid-like stre.
On the north west coast of the of Zakynthos you will find Shipwreck Cove or Smugglers Cove also called Navagio Beach which is probably the most famous beach in Greece and can only be accessed by boat but is well worth the trip.
This picturesque beach has been photographed and featured in many holiday brochures, travel books and televised advertisements. The boat was shipwrecked back in 1980 after hitting rocks in bad weather while being pursued by the Greek Navy who suspected it was carrying contraband cigarettes. Those tourists planning to lounge in the sun are advised to bring all necessities with them as there are no facilities in this secluded bay. A sun umbrella is a must, as the heat radiates off the white cliffs and there is no shade on the beach to get away from it, especially at midday. As you can see from pictures,the Shipwreck Beach is enclosed within large steep cliffs which give it this remote, inaccessible feel. Because of that, it is impossible to walk to the beach, instead you will need to take the boat.
Frequent boat service to Shipwreck Cove is provided from nearby Porto Vromi located to the south, or from the Harbor of Saint Nikolas in Volimes, located to the north of Shipwreck Cove. You can also take a boat from island's capital city of Zakynthos. However when we visited Shipwreck we went on the boat trip run by the Potamitis Brothers which you can catch near the Lighthouse at Skinar In order to avoid overcrowding, go to Navagio Beach either early in the morning or put off your visit until later in the afternoon (at around 3pm).
To get spectacular photos of Shipwreck Cove from above, you can drive up on top of the cliff where viewing platform on the edge of the cliff offers amazing photo opportunities. Most postcard photos are taken from there. To get to the viewpoint, just follow the road signs which read 'Navagio/.
If you come here in late August, you'll find the St Dionysios celebrations in full swing. In Zante Town, the remains of the island’s patron saint are carried in a silver coffin from the church dedicated to him. And afterwards, the whole city explodes in a flurry of floats, fireworks, costumes and dancing.
This beach is great if you've got little ones with you. Expect soft sands and shallow waters made for paddling. It's also one of Zante's quieter stretches, so it's really peaceful. That said, you'll find a few watersports on offer, and some tavernas laid out behind the sands.
If you fancy trying your hand at scuba diving, you’re in the right place. The waters surrounding Zante are teeming with marine life. Vassilikos, around half an hour’s drive from Laganas, is the best place to head. The island's eastern lobster claw peninsula juts into clear seas and offers up the ideal conditions for an introduction to diving.
If you're staying near Lithakia, you can see this pretty little islet as you float on your Lilo. But it's much better close-up. Anchored offshore in Laganas Bay, it's an uninhabited island of silky soft sands and cushiony greenery. Plus, it's only around a 20-minute boat ride away, so it's great if you want to play castaway for a few hours.
Laganas Beach may be a turtle-watching hotspot, but drive south for around half an hour, and you'll come to Gerakas Beach. This place is home to the only turtle conservation centre on the island. It charts the efforts of those working to stop the creatures from becoming extinct, and gives you some tips on what you can do to help.
At the northern tip of Zante,the afternoon sun shines on the sea to create patterns in every conceivable shade of blue on the cave walls eerily beautiful.