I’ve lived here for 17 years and I still can’t get enough every time, I go swimming!
Zákynthos is green and lush compare to the Aegean islands where one would find more arid, dry and rockier terrains.
You probably won’t find all white little village houses stuck against the mountain faces but more of a Venetian architectural look, with homes painted in a deep terracotta and white window frames.
Beaches along our coastline vary. One would find an array of sandy beaches and then some with rocks. They don’t go on and on and on but they are gorgeous and you can walk out pretty far before you land up going under. Crystal blue waters are common but never tiresome- it leaves me in awe all the time. It really does take your breath away.
I’m not going to describe every single beach we have but those that I truly love going to, some
maybe popular some are secluded. Some are rocky and some are sandy. And there are some that you can’t walk into but only, just jump, off into the sea!
1. Tartaruga beach: Porto Koukla- this is magic so secluded, not a lot of people come and know this beach. You will probably only bump into locals and the odd adventuring tourist. It’s quiet and one pretty has much of the rocky beach all to themselves, waters are so clean and crisp. If you enjoy a bit of a spa day too, then this is your spot! There’s Thisbe magic clay- you can find it everywhere, so just wet it and spread all over your body and face. Sit in the sun to allow it to dry and then go for a dip. You will feel so soft and smooth after, it’s amazing!!! Do make sure to take your beach/swim shoes as to walk freely without hurting your sensitive soles. Pack a picnic basket with lots of cold water because you will want to stay a long time! Bring along an umbrella too incase the time of day is too sunny and no shade is available. It’s fun for the kids too, watching them try to compete with each other who will create the tallest zen rock tower is memorable. But coming here with your other half is equally enjoyable. My husband brought me here 17 years ago… never returned until now and I was blown away by its beauty that I can’t stay away!
2. Alba beach & snack bar- Marathia: this is just awesome! Again a place where you will stay out for most of the day. It has a small cantina serving drinks and light snacks so you will be fine for most of the day. Very close by is a stunning traditional Zákynthian restaurant, in my eyes voted one of the best places for traditional Greek food! So you can go for lunch and return to the beach after again. There are huge boulders, no sand and it’s against the marathia coastline. I don’t recommend it for families with really small children, it could be tricky for them to get in and out of the water although there is a small swimming pool stairs attached to the rocks. The water is unbelievable and great for underwater swimming and snorkelling. Sometimes you will find little rock pools filled with crystallised sea salt- yum! There’s lots of shade for those that don’t feel like ‘lizard-ing’ on the rocks!
3. Marathonisi Island: first and second beach- this is ideal for a day out with one of those little rented speedboats. You will definitely get a feel for the Zákynthian coastline and it’s beaches, you will get to see some of our popular caves with waters so blue you will think it’s been photoshopped!!! Now on the island you can choose between the first beach with is sandy or the second beach which is on the left back of the island, the latter is rocky with tiny stones. But it’s great because there are caves you can swim and explore. You will find that the Caretta turtles use the first beach for nesting and it will be demarcated off so please respect the ‘do not pass’ markers as there will be turtle nests around. Another option is to get dropped off by a boat company and they will arrange with you a picking up time in case you are not comfortable driving a motor boat alone. Don’t worry about drinks and snacks, both sides have a floating snack bar serving drinks, ice cream and sandwiches.
4. Nobelos: St Nicholas- do you want to go somewhere where you feel like you have just gone to heaven?! Well this is a stunning place. It’s a hotel with a gorgeous little restaurant and beach. They will not mind you staying if you kindly support them by ordering drinks or food. There menu is lush, seafood and local food is a must to try, fresh and delicious. It really is a destination as it’s setting is so tranquil and relaxing. There are cute little nook and crannies to take a book and go read or play a challenging backgammon with your partner, sipping an ouzo. I’m sure you will want to stay the night as well after sitting here most of the day! I do!
5. Porto Limionas:Agios Leon: it’s a little cove, no beach, straight diving into its blue, crystal and crisp water. You can’t come to Zak and not come here. You will need a car or motorbike to come because it’s not in walking distance from any of the popular resorts. The restaurant above is awesome. A family run business serving amazing local fare and fresh seafood. They have also laid out some sun beds so you can relax too. A great place to incorporate swimming and eating!
6. Navagio, Shipwreck: Agios Georgios – this picturesque beach which has been photographed numerous times and featured everywhere is only accessible by boat company/ tour organisers, its waters can get very choppy and extremely dangerous for amateurs, so I advise to choose a reputable company. Once there, you will have to swim into shore from the vessel. They have a rope to aid those across. The ship is really old, still intact and nestled onto limestone gravel with steep white cliffs. Don’t forget your camera and essentials like an umbrella/hat and water! You will love the stoney beach and it’s turquoise waters-It breathtaking and leaves you in awe as you are mesmerised by its beauty and feeling of reclusiveness. The story goes that this boat ran aground on the 2nd of October 1980 hitting rocks from bad weather trying to run away from coastal officials as they were suspected in carrying contraband cigarettes but it was never confirmed. It’s a popular beach and you may be sharing it with hundreds of tourists so try get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon after 3pm.
7. Xigia: Skinari- looking for a spa treatment? This little pebbly beach which is stunning, but not so much in aroma! It emits a sulphuric smell from a near by cave which is known to aid and relieve ailments – aches and pains due arthritis.
8. Laganas/Kalamaki beach: Zákynthos is famous not only for its shipwreck cove but for the gracious Caretta turtle. Every summer the sea is full of them as they come back to nest. They return to the same place every year at their origin of birth. Swimming around these awesome creatures is really something special. My family and I love turtle spotting and every time one’s spotted and it’s head pops out of the water, its incredible how you just want to watch it forever. Hiring a little motorboat is a fun way of making sure you get to spot one or more.
Yes, there’s been a lot of bad press about Laganas and it’s rowdy night life, drinking and rawkus shenanigans, endless bars and girls walking around not nearly half dressed, but that’s not what this island is all about. It’s holds some of the worlds most amazing beaches and crystal blue waters. Gorgeous summer nights in town meandering the town’s tiny little roads is just magic and you feel the truest spirit of Greece and what it has to offer.