Must see in Zakynthos
January 1, 1970
by Eli Mocanu
And Zeus created Greece
Even with all the political distress and bad publicity that Greece has , I still believe it is one of the most beautiful places in the world . If gods existed, I would understand why they have chosen Greece as their home. The legend has it that Zeus finished making Earth and had a few rocks leftover so he took a bunch and threw them over his shoulder. Where they landed, Greece was formed
Geographics of Zakynthos
There are more than 2000 Islands in Greece, many still uninhabited, and my story is related to one called Zakynthos or Zante as the English like to call it. It is one of the seven islands in the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy. The southern of them all, Zakynthos is nicknamed the green island because it has green vegetation all year round, even in the hottest moths July and August. About 80 km long and 30 km wide, the island has so much to offer to tourists and locals alike. The eastern shore is packed with beaches, some are sandy ( quite a rare in Greece) , some are wild, some are nudist , some can be accessed by boat only. The south shore is the party area while the North is quite secluded, made for nature lovers or romantic couples who want to spend the night in a windmill for example.
The blue caves
The North is also home to some of the most famous caves in Greece, the blue caves . They are called that way because during the day (especially mornings) the light reflects in such a way that everything underwater looks blue, including yourself if you decide to swim. The caves are also filled with fish, corals, sometimes and seals and if you are lucky, on the way to the caves you can see dolphins and giant turtles.
The western shore is quite rocky and wild; it is the traditional farming part of the island. I discovered it first by going on a Jeep Safari and then by renting a quad bike and “getting lost” on the back roads. You can also rent a car , but a scooter or quad bike is so much better to go around these places . To get from the East to West you have to traverse what the locals call the mountains even if I insisted they are hills. No matter what they are, they offer magnificent views over Zakynthos , the neighbouring Island Kefalonia and even mainland Greece on a clear day . But the most magnificent view on the island is in a restaurant positioned just on the edge of a cliff on the west shore . It is the perfect location for whatching a sunset worth of movies, photographs and paintings all put together into one. The place is called Porto Schiza Sunset and you can easily find it by following the giant cross next to it . In there I loved having the local wine , melitzanes with feta and fries ( eggplants/ aubergines with Greek cheese and fresh cut fries ). Such simple things they are but when I tried to have them at home they just weren’t the same . But anyway, the main reason you should go there is the sunset so don’t forget to calculate your hours right
The biggest attraction on the Island is a beautiful beach called Navagio or in English “ The Shipwreck” beach . Accessible only by boat, you can find its image on many Greek postcards or adds . The bright blue water and white pebbles topped up by an actual Shipwreck looking like it has been there forever just waiting for you to take a selfie, have placed this beach in top 10 one can visit in a lifetime . The shipwreck is quite recent ( 100- 200 years) but due to the salt level in the atmosphere it has eroded much quicker than normal . Actually the beach is quite recent itself …the locals like to say that St Dionysus , the god of grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy and ( doesn’t surprise me) protector of the island , gave a helping hand to the locals by unearthing this perfect beach and attract people from all around the world with their experience and richness . Once there you don’t have many activity options as the beach is protected and quite busy especially during peak season .All boats are allowed to stay for one hour only after which they must board their passengers and leave . You can swim in crystal clear water , snorkel, take 1000000 photographs which you will , become one with nature outside of peak season or even during peak season if you are a master at mediation , skydive from the cliffs surrounding the beach or …wait for it …go really crazy and get married there ! . Outside peak season (June and September are the best), you can get a priest and a boat and set sail to the beach where you can have a wedding ceremony. If you leave from Alykes village on the East coast ,it will take about 30 min to the Blue Caves and one hour to the beach. I have seen this done and the girly girl in me found it to be such a romantic idea
Caretta Caretta giant turtles
There is another cool thing you can do in the South of the island ( beside going party mad in Laganas ) , that is to spot caretta caretta giant turtles . With an average lifespan of 400 years these turtles can grow as big as your car . They always come back on the beach they are born in order to lay their eggs and Zakynthos is one of the few places in the world where this still happens. During the nesting season ( Summer months ) , the female turtles will come out of the water , dig a hole in the sound and burry a few hundred eggs in it . Then she leaves and the babies must find their own way to the sea once they hatch . Because of this process and the long time it takes for them to grow , only one in one thousand baby turtles will make it to maturity . The process worked in the past but due to modern interference with nature , the turtles are now an endangered species . The locals are very proud of the heritage and will protect and respect these beaches at any time . The best way to spot the turtles is by a glass bottom submarine in the South , but I spotted them from normal rented boats and even from the air while paragliding .
We only scratched the surface of Zakynthos
There are so many things this Island has to offer it is impossible to cover in just one article . So please follow me for info to come to come or contact me if you are looking for specific answers. Lots of love wherever you are