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Zakynthos – Famous for its Shipwreck Beach and rare Seaturtles

Zakynthos is famous worldwide for its Navagio (Shipwreck) beach and the rare Loggerhead sea turtle living in the turquoise blue waters around the island. You will totally love Zakynthos for its exotic beaches with powder white sand, crazy-blue waters and breath-taking landscapes.  

Cameo Island of Zakynthos Greece
Cameo Island of Zakynthos

In my post about Zakynthos you will find everything you need to know for your perfect holidays in Zakynthos. Discover the best beaches and things to do in Zakynthos. 

Zante and Zakynthos – are they the same? 

Zante is the Italian name for the island whereas Zakynthos is its Greek name. 

Navagio (shipwreck) beach, Zakynthos, Greece
Navagio (Shipwreck) beach, Zakynthos

What is Zakynthos famous for? 

Zakynthos is among the most exotic Greek islands along with Kefalonia, Lefkas Paxoi. It is extremely popular with its magical beauty and crazy nightlife. It is placed right in the middle of the stunning Ionian Sea among the other Ionian Islands making it a perfect holiday choice for island hopping. 

Exploring Zakynthos, maybe hiring an ATV for a day or hiking, you will discover picturesque villages on hilltops, medieval monasteries and gorgeous landscapes.  Always have your camera with you! Most beaches on Zakynthos are home to the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle, also known as the species Caretta-Caretta, which lay their eggs every year in the fine sand on the beaches of Zakynthos. 

Blue Caves in Zakynthos Greece
Blue Caves, Zakynthos

Of course, the most famous sight on Zakynthos and its trademark worldwide is the scenic and much photographed Navagio (Shipwreck) beach. Believe it or not – it is far more beautiful in reality! Navagio beach is only accessible by boat, or maybe by parachute jumping from the cliff above 😉

Zakynthos Beach Guide

Zante - aerial view of Porto Zorro Azzurro Beach, Zakynthos Island, Greece
Aerial view of Porto Zorro, Zakynthos

In Zakynthos there are many stunning beaches you should visit during your stay. At Shipwreck beach you can only stay for a short while before the boat sails to the next sights. Go visit Gerakas beach, Laganas Zante, Vasilikos beach and Spiantza beach. Beware not to disturb the endangered Caretta-Caretta sea turtles when they lay their eggs on some of these beaches during the spring and summer months. If you are really lucky you will see the them coming up from the sea to hide their eggs under the sand, but from a safe distance in order not to disturb them in this serious business.

Organized beaches in Zakynthos 

  • Argassi beach – sandy, family friendly, 5 km south of Zakynthos Town 
  • Drosia beach – sandy, family friendly, 12 km north west of Zakynthos Town 
  • Koukla beach – sandy, family friendly, 13 km south west of Zakynthos Town 
  • Kalamaki beach – sandy, family friendly, 6 km south of Zakynthos Town 
  • Agios Nikolaos beach – sandy, family friendly with water sports, 32 km west of Zakynthos Town 
  • Spanzia beach – sandy, family friendly, 16 km south west of Zakynthos Town 
  • Banana beach – sandy, family friendly with water sports, 14 km south east of Zakynthos Town 
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How to reach Shipwreck (Navagio) Beach? 

My suggestion is to visit Navagio beach from the sea on a boat trip which also will be taking you to the blue caves. Here you will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel in the clear water and maybe you are lucky to experience the Loggerhead sea turtles. Then go another day by ATV to view Navagio beach from the dramatic towering cliffs above.

Best things to do in Zakynthos 

Chora, Zakynthos Town, Zante Greece
Chora, Zakynthos Townview from the Venetian castle

Explore Zakynthos Town (or Chora), the capital of Zakynthos. The town is strongly influenced by the Venetians during their rule on the island. They had also named the island “Fiore di Levante” (meaning flower of the East). Give yourself the time to explore the hidden gems of the town like Saint Mark Square, Solomos Square, and the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos. Bochali Hill above Zakynthos Town contains a small Venetian castle, and offers panoramic views onto the town. 

Diving in Zakynthos, Zante, Greece
Diving in Zakynthos

In Zakynthos you will never be bored – go partying, scuba diving or on day trips by boat (organized tours) or hire a car or even better an ATV to reach the most secluded beaches and villages on the island. On organized beaches you will find water sports to keep you entertained during the hot summer days! 

Where is Zakynthos? 

Zakynthos, also Zante, is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. It covers an area of 410 km2 (158 sq mi) and its coastline is roughly 123 km (76 mi) in length. The island is named after Zakynthos, the son of a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus. Zante has a thriving tourism industry. 

Map of the Ionian Islands Greece
Click to enlarge map  – Coordinates: 37°48′N 20°45′E 

Zakynthos history and culture 

Zante was inhabited from the Neolithic Age, as some archaeological excavations have proved. The famous ancient Greek poet and writer, Homer, first mentioned the island in his masterpieces, the Iliad and the Odyssey, stating that the first inhabitants of it were the son of King Dardanos of Troy and his men, who called the island Zakynthos. They first came on the island around 1500-1600 BC. 

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Zakynthos – how to get there?  

car rental transportation in Zakynthos Greece
Ferries and car rental

The capital of Zakynthos lies on the eastern part of the north coast. Apart from Zakynthos Town, it is also called Chora. The port of Zakynthos has a ferry connecting to the port of Kyllini on the western side of Peloponnese. You can reach Zakynthos from Kyllini within an hour.  Another ferry connects Zakynthos with Kefalonia during summer. These ferries depart from the port of Pessada and reach the port of Schinari. The itineraries are carried out about twice a day during high season. 

Flights to Zakynthos 

Flight to Zakynthos Greece

Zakynthos International Airport “Dionysios Solomos” receives domestic flights from Kefalonia and Athens all year and during summer the airport receives flights from numerous cities around Europe. The flight duration from Athens to Zakynthos is 45 minutes. The airport of Zakynthos is located 5 km from Zakynthos Town. 

Island hopping from Zakynthos 

Ancient Olympia in Peloponnese Greece

The location of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea close to both the coast of Peloponnese and Kefalonia makes it perfect for island hopping in the Ionian Sea and a visit at Ancient Olympia in Peloponnese not far from Kyllini. 

Weather and climate in Zakynthos 

AprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober
Air15182327281818
Sea14172123232120
Average air and sea temperature in Zakynthos in °C
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Zakynthos – what to see? 

The most famous landmark of the island is the Navagio beach. It is a cove on the southwest shore, isolated by high cliffs and accessible only by boats. The beach and sea floor are made of white pebbles, and surrounded by turquoise waters. It is named after a shipwreck (MV Panagiotis) which sunk on the shore around 1980. The ridge area from Anafonitria has a small observation deck which overlooks the shipwreck and there is a monastery nearby. 

The Blue Caves of Zakynthos 

Blue Caves in Zakynthos Greece
Blue Caves, Zakynthos

Numerous “Blue Caves”, are cut into cliffs around Cape Skinari, and accessible only by small boats. Sunrays reflect through blue sea water from white stones of cave bottoms and walls, creating interesting effects. Keri is located in the far south of the island. It is a mountain village and has a lighthouse in the south. It includes a panorama of the southern part of the Ionian Sea. The whole western shore, from Keri to Skinari, contains numerous interesting rock formations, particularly arches.

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Cruises around Zakynthos 

Explore the entire island of Zakynthos by sea on a one-day cruise. It is the best way to enjoy the stunning coastline of Zante island and make stops at some of the island’s beaches which are only accessible from the sea. There are plenty of cruises to choose from, most of them departing from Zakynthos Town. 

Highlights on your cruise may include: 

Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Zakynthos, Greece
Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Zakynthos Greece
  • A visit to the blue caves 
  • A stop at the shipwreck 
  • Sighting dolphins out at sea 
  • Spotting a Loggerhead sea turtle 

Most of the main cruises depart from Zakynthos Town and can take up to 9 hours. It is best to take an early cruise because you will have undisturbed access to the quieter parts of the island. 

Scuba diving in Zakynthos 

Zante is a great island for Scuba diving and facilities are available in a number of locations. 

  • Eurodivers– in the middle of Laganas beach (PADI-instructors) 
  • Diver’s Paradise – Louis Zante Beach Hotel in Kalamaki 
  • Diving Centre in Limni Keriou – Turtle Beach
  • NeroDivingCentre in Limni Keriou
  • ThalassaDiving/Watersports in Lithakia 
  • AdventureDivingLithakia
  • St. Nikolas Diving School in St. Nikolas 

Major sporting facilities can be found in Zakynthos Town. In the resorts, sports are limited to water sports. 

Biking in Zakynthos 

mountain biking

A sporting alternative on land is biking. You can hire mountain bikes in most resorts and go biking in the hills. Be careful though, keep off the roads whereever possible and hire helmets as well. The best areas for mountain biking are the hills inland from Vassilikos and the central mountain range east of Zakynthos Town. You could also bring your own bikes to the island. In principle the only difficulty is arranging for the charter airlines to carry the bikes in the hold. 

Nightlife & Clubbing on Zakynthos 

Zante is a vibrant island, offering a wide variety of tavernas, bars and night clubs. The liveliest resorts are in the south of the island. Argasi and Laganas are the two main resorts which cater for a younger audience. Laganas is the nightclub centre of Zante, where competing clubs blast out dance music from their open-fronted bars onto the Laganas “strip”. This isn’t a resort for a good night’s sleep although there have been recent moves to restrict loud music in the early hours. Tsilivi, Alikes and Kalamaki have a good range of entertainment in the evening for a broad age group. All three are lively resorts without becoming too hectic. 

How to get around Zakynthos 

The Greek National Road 35, a road linking Zante and Porto Roma; and another road linking Zante and Volimes. The island has one airport, the Zakynthos International Airport, “Dionysios Solomos” (on former GR-35) in its southwest which connects flights with other Greek airports. It is 4.3 km from Zakynthos town. 

History of Zakynthos Town 

After Mary Magdalene’s visit to the island in 34AD, Christian faith won over the idol-worshipping population and conquered the hearts of the people of Zante. Until the earthquake of 1953, there were over 350 churches on the island, of which 100 were in the capital, Zakynthos Town.

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Islands and islets around Zakynthos 

Cameo Island of Zakynthos Greece
Cameo island of Zakynthos

Minor uninhabited islands around Zakynthos are Marathonisi, Pelouzo and Agios Sostis in the Laganas bay, Agios Nikolaos, near the eponymous harbour on the northern tip, and Agios Ioannis, near Porto Vromi on the western coast. 

The National Marine Park of Zakynthos  

The Loggerhead seaturtle (Caretta-caretta) at Zakynthos island

The National Marine Park of Zante, founded in 1999, is a national park located in Laganas bay, Zante island in Greece.

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