Zakynthos is the third biggest island in the Ionian sea following Cephalonia and Corfu. It is most known for it’s stunning Shipwreck bay, which was inspiration and mission of the trip along my curiosity to see other beaches of the island.
Fame of the Navagio beach has driven tourism of Zakynthos and unfortunately it has paid it’s dues. Island has lost some of it’s natural charm and untouched beauty. Overwhelmed by cheap hotels, plastic restaurants and bars, you have to drive far away from the city to see the true beauty of the island. While only several beaches are left unspoiled, those couple will be the best you have seen in a while. Here’s my Zakynthos beach top 5.
TOP 5 BEACHES OF ZAKYNTHOS
1. Navagio/ Shipwreck beach, Volimes
No doubt, Navagio is the most spectacular beach of the island and I would even dare to say Europe. The white sandy beach and deep blue waters surrounded by the high limestone cliffs looks breathtaking beautiful. The smugglers ship (apparently smuggling cigarettes) washed on the shore after malfunction of the motor in bad weather is just a cherry on the cake to complete the view.
This beach is perfect for taking pictures, but not actually great for spending leisurely day swimming and catching tan. The only way to get there is by boat, and even then – due to the strong winds, not every day or every boat will take you there. Once you will be dropped on the beach for an hour – together with hundreds of others like you – in best case you will manage to get couple of happy snappies and jump in the water. I think it’s worth the view and the couple of pictures anyway, so if you would like to go, boats depart from Porto Vromi, St. Nicolas and Zakynthos and many other ports (average cost from 20-30 Eur, depending where you get on and what size of boat you take).
If you are not afraid of heights and want to see the beach for FREE, get the old fashioned map (as sat nav turned out to be completely useless) follow signs of “Volimes” and afterwards “Shipwreck beach view” and you will get to the perfect view from high above.
2. Banana beach, Vasilikos/ Argasi
On the opposite side of the island, between the resorts of Vasilikos and Argassi, you will find a proper holiday spot. This beach reminded me of Sardinia and it’s long, sandy beaches washed with emerald green waters – perfect for spending endless hours in the warm sea and sand. There is a laid back restaurant/beach bar with the amazing view to the seaside, so in my opinion it literally ticks all the boxes!
3. Blue caves, St. Nicolas
Well not exactly beach, but more of a perfect swimming place combined with picture perfect scenery. On the northern coast of the Island these will be your best spent 10 euros for a boat trip to Blue Caves, which also includes swimming session in the area of your choice. While any other island has their blue caves, there was something magical about Zakynthos, captain took us into the smallest inlets you would never imagine boat can physically get in. Light reflecting from the stones and creating this magical blue illusion was hypnotizing and some of the stone formations looked more like a piece of art than nature. Take a boat from St Nicolas port or Zakynthos.
4. Makris Gialos, St.Nicolas
Between St. Nicolas and Katastari pebbly beach lovers will find another beauty of the island. Long white pebbly shore, with crystal clear waters and a view to a smaller version of blue caves. Topped with couple of hilltop tavernas in a close vicinity, fantastic day at the beach is absolutely guaranteed.
5. Xigia beach, St. Nicolas
Just couple km before the MakrisGialos one more little secret of Zakynthos is hidden between the rocks. Magnificent tiny cove with coarse sandy beach and calm blue waters is said to have high concentration of sulfur which comes from the nearby caves. Locals believe it has a healing powers for arthritis and rheumatism. There should be a typical sulfur smell on the beach, which I can assure was not there, at least not in May.
Northern coast trio beaches of Alykes, Alykanas and Tsilivi
On the east coast of the island you will find resort-village trio Alykes, Alykanas and Tsilivi. Purposely built for tourists only, you will find no history or romance here, but money making seasonal restaurants, bars and hotels to feed the thousands of hungry visitors. On a positive side there are sandy beaches in a walking distance from the village.
Alykes beach, Alykes
Alykanas beach, Alykanas
Tsilivi beach, Tsilivi
If I would go again, I would try to stay in one of the resorts from Argasi to Vassilikos, with the fantastic scenery of the green mountains and villas on the cliffs, this side of the island offers much more relaxed and tranquil location with several nice beaches on the way.
Gerakas beach, Vassilikos
Agios Nikolaos beach, Vassilikos
Plaka beach, Vassilikos
Porto Zoro beach, Vassilikos
Kalamaki & Laganas
On the south side of the island, these two beaches are the most important nesting place for protected sea turtles. Funny enough Laganas is the hardcore party village, where poor turtles would be the last thing on your mind while stumbling home over the beach. Interesting who picked the beach first -turtles or industry developers?
1.Where to stay in Zakynthos?
The options are quite diverse and there is a corner for everybody. If you are looking for a cheap alcohol and non-stop party life – Laganas is right place for you, nearby Kalamaki seemed as a excellent place to recover from your last night out. Families with kids, looking for a beach just around the corner with cheap hotels & restaurants in arms length, pick one of the trio resorts on the east Alykes, Alykanas and Tsivili. Looking for slightly upper market feel and better views over the hillside of the south east side of Zakynthos, look for a place to stay from Argasi and Vassilikos beaches. And for the truly luxury experience you will need to look into far remote corners of the island where the industry hasn’t destroyed the local charm yet – from Katastari to Korithi and Keri.
2. Weather in May in Zakynthos
Unfortunately even in Greece weather is not guaranteed at the beginning of May, the average of +20 degrees and rather rainy couple of days could be your reality. If you want to avoid the summer crowds and extreme heat (+40), September is the best month – still very hot, cheap and you can swim!
3. Where to eat?
Well, that’s a hard question, as even concierge in the fine hotel couldn’t really reply to this question. Hiding between the excuses of an early season, we were recommended not to eat in the local village/resort and were sent of to Zakynthos town, which actually turned out to be much better then I thought. And food choice wise, besides the Greek salad, that probably tastes better at home, we spent last two days in the local spagetteria, also very popular between the locals ( I assume they also have had enough of the rabit and rooster stews).
Zakynthos is located in a very seismically active zone, and getting earthquake is not a big deal. In 1953 earthquake completely wiped off Zakynthos city from the earth leaving only 3 buildings. In the recent 2006, series of earthquakes were shaking up the island for a week!! This phenomena is was called earthquake swarm.
If you want to find any of the beaches on the map, click below.