After Santorini we continued our journey to Zakynthos, a part of the Ionian Islands, to meet up with my family! Unlike Santorini this island doesn't require a luxury stay - it has so much to explore that you will rarely spend any time there. Unfortunately most people only think Zakynthos is for partiers, but that is exclusively around Laganas beach on the south end of the island. The rest of the island is a quiet, laid back atmosphere with so much diversity and places to explore!
We stayed near Tsilivi Beach which was quiet and very family friendly. A good idea would be to find a hotel that includes breakfast that way you don't waste any time trying to find any when heading out. If you leave earlier than their breakfast time you can ask them to pack it up for you at your desired time so you can take with (how nice!). Another reason to save on your stay is so you can rent a car! I highly recommend exploring on your own rather than going on excursions because you can go at your own pace and avoid the crowds. Here are some highlights from our trip!
Navagio beach (also known as Shipwreck beach) is what peaked our interest to visit this island! And let me tell you... it did not disappoint! However what I didn't expect is just how much more the island had to offer!
The earlier you go the better because there are a lot of excursions that come filled with buses of people. To get the best view walk to the right towards the flagpole. It is filled with rocks and bushes so some good shoes definitely help, but please be very careful! There have been many accidents where people have fallen from the cliffs trying to get close or get "the shot". Please don't rush, take your time. And make sure you have water with you because the heat is real!
The view was unreal and the water was just sparkling! If you are brave enough they do offer bungee jumping from the top of the cliff onto the beach below.
I am the family photographer (obviously) so everyone wanted their picture. On the left is my sister Susan and right is my daddy Ostoja.
How cute are my parents??
Never enough photos of this man!
To get these epic photos below we used a drone which I'm thankful to David for braving the heat carrying a backpack! It really gives you a sense of just how large and spectacular this coastline is.
The water was absolute magic.
As you can see from the photo below, there is no road to the beach. It's only accessible by boat so we were determined to find a company to visit the beach by water as well. More on that below.
Everyday we went to explore a different beach around the island. My husband really enjoyed driving on the winding roads around this island, and found that even in peak season traffic was minimal.
This beach is called Xigia Sulfur Beach. It had natural spring streams containing collagen and sulphur that flow directly out into the warm sea making it a therapeutic swimming experience. It's so good for your skin and even said to help with arthritis! This beach is in a tiny cove located in the Northeast part of Zakynthos. You can't see it from the road until you park in the lot above and then walk down the steps. Keep in mind sulfur has a very strong smell which you eventually get used to but don't be alarmed! The beach consists of white pebbles instead of sand and it gets pretty deep quickly. If you swim out to the left and follow the cliffs you will find some really neat caves, definitely worth the visit!
The next beach we visited is called Porto Limnionas Taverna. This place was probably our favourite beach because it has it all! Beautiful turquoise water, cliff jumping, snorkeling, a bunch of caves to explore, a yummy restaurant with gorgeous views, and sun beds! However this beach is not great for families with babies or small kids since it's very rocky and steep going down. I highly recommend some comfortable swimming shoes. Also you have to jump in as there isn't much shallow area. There is a 10m beach on the far left but it is quite the mission to get there! This beach is more of a big bay or a big aquarium since there are tons of fish and underwater rock formations to see. I definitely suggest getting there early so you can get a parking spot and sun bed, otherwise the wait can be long! Also when you get there make reservations for lunch. 2 sun-beds and one umbrella came to 10 Euro. A waiter or waitress will come by every once in a while to offer drinks. It can get crowded but if you go early and get a good spot it will be worth your while. Make sure to stick around until evening since it faces west and has gorgeous sunsets!
So many little coves and caves to explore! Can you spot the person in a hammock?
As I mentioned earlier, the next day we decided to go see the Shipwreck from the water. We found a company called Al Mar Speedboats that gave us a great price to take us there along the coast. It is not recommended you to navigate there on your own regardless if you have a boating license and experience. This island and coastline is very rocky and can have some large swells so it is better to go with someone who knows the island. They provide many tours but since we reserved a private tour they picked us up at a nearby port and took us all the way to Navagio beach and back - there was lots to see along the way! It was such a treat to be able to explore the island on the water as well. If you have time I highly recommend visiting the neighbouring island Kefalonia with Al Mar Speedboats, definitely another beautiful island. Check out the info here. Iglis was our captain and he was fantastic, we had such a great time with him!
We stopped at the Blue Caves to do some snorkeling. The water was crystal clear and such a deep turquoise blue. There were beautiful limestone arches which you could swim through and explore the coves underneath.
Iglis was more than happy to stop and continue as we desired. He truly helped us make the most of our time.
Found some cliff jumping for my crazy husband along the way!
Then we arrived to Navagio (Shipwreck) beach! There's a ton of speculation as to why the ship “Panagiotis” was marooned here in 1980 however all the facts remain a mystery till this day. You are able to climb in and around the boat but since it is old and rusted there are some sharp edges you have to be careful for. Definitely worth coming to the beach to see, although it does get very crowded.
Some beautiful yachts also exploring this stunning island!
One of the lesser known attractions to Zakynthos are turtles! There is a little island in Laganas Bay that is known as "turtle island". One reason being that it actually resembles the shape of a turtle and second because it is one of the most important breeding grounds for sea turtles. It is highly likely you will spot one if not more on your trip!
One of the most unforgettable views!
We decided to visit Navagio Shipwreck beach from the cliffs one last time to take in the views. It rained early morning so all excursions were cancelled and there was next to no one hiking. It was absolutely magical to have the place to ourselves!
I highly recommend visiting this island and seeing for yourself all it has to offer. From amazing food, beaches, and coves to caves, cliffs, snorkeling/scuba diving and sea turtles, it has something for everyone! All this along with that great European charm, don't overlook this amazing island!
For any questions or suggestions feel free to email or DM me!