Zante beaches Travel Guide
About Zante beaches
The hilly, green island of Zante (Zakynthos) in the Ionian Sea in western Greece is renowned for its unspoilt natural beauty. Hillsides are covered with pine forests, the fertile valleys support olive groves, vineyards and orchards of citrus fruits, and the southeast coast boasts several idyllic beaches. Like neighbouring Kefalonia, Zante was struck by the 1953 earthquake that destroyed many of its buildings, resulting in the capital, Zante Town, having to be rebuilt.
Today the island's busiest and best-known resort is Laganas, which is about 11km (7 miles) south of Zante Town on the south coast. Laganas has now established itself as one of Greece's top 24-hour party resorts for the 18-30 age group. Strangely, Laganas lies within the Zakynthos National Marine Park, home to protected wildlife such as the endangered loggerhead sea turtle and the Mediterranean monk seal. The other top holiday resorts are Argassi, which is 4km (2.5 miles) south of Zante Town, as well as Tsilivi, about 5km (3 miles) north of Zante Town.
Other attractions in Zante include the sea caves, notably the Blue Caves and Keri Caves which are accessible only by boat from the sea, and the stunning Shipwreck Beach in Smuggler's Cove.
Zante's is blessed with beautiful beaches, and the island's longest beach is Laganas – a stunning 9km (5.5 miles) stretch of golden sands. There are sunbeds and umbrellas, but watersports are prohibited as this is a protected site where rare loggerhead turtles nest. For the island's best watersports facilities, visit Argassi, a long, narrow shingle beach just 4km (2.5 miles) south of Zante Town.
North of Zante Town is Tsilivi, another sublime beach, while a little further north lies Alikes (or Alykes), another pleasant sandy beach that is hugged by crystal clear waters. Last but not least, on the northwest tip of the island lies Zante's most photographed beach, Navagio Beach, commonly known as Shipwreck Beach in Smuggler's Cove. This dramatic cove with an idyllic beach backed by plummeting cliffs can only be accessed by boat from the sea.
Beyond the beach:
The island's capital, Zante Town, was badly damaged by the 1953 earthquake, though efforts were made to rebuild it in its original style. Worth a look here is the Post-Byzantine Museum, which was rebuilt in the same location following the earthquake and now displays frescoes and religious icons from between the 12th and 19th centuries. On a hill 2km (1.2 miles) above Zante Town, in Bohali, the 17th-century Venetian Castle offers fantastic views back to town and out to sea. Zante's sea caves, which can be visited by boat, are also a major attraction; the best being the Blue Caves (on the island's northeast tip) and Keri Caves (near Keri, on the island's southwest tip). It is also possible to join an organised jeep safari, which involves a convoy of Land Rovers touring the island's sites of historical interest, rural areas and inland villages, with a break for lunch and a swim.
Zante's unspoilt sandy beaches are perfect for kids, though some might consider Laganas too chaotic. Children and adults alike will be amused by Zante Water Village at Sarakinada (10km/6 miles from Laganas on the road to Zante Town), complete with pools, slides and a lazy river. Luna Fun Park in Tsilivi also offers a bouncy castle, bumper boats, inflatable slides and laser shooting. For something more sophisticated, the Peligoni Club (www.peligoni.com) near Agios Nikolaos on the northeast coast is an upmarket family beach club aimed at teenagers, with excellent watersports facilities.
It is possible to take a day trip to the neighbouring island of Kefalonia: ferries depart from Agios Nikolaos on the northeast coast of Zante and arrive in Pessada on the south coast of Kefalonia. Travel agencies on Zante offer all-inclusive day trips to Kefalonia with a guide. Another interesting excursion takes visitors to the mainland to visit Ancient Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games. For this excursion, take a ferry from Zante Town to Kyllini, then take a bus transfer to Olympia.