Zakynthos is a wonderful Greek island in the Ionian Sea, famous for its exquisite beaches (Navagio beach is probably one of the most famous in the world) and also as one of the most important natural shelters for the sea turtle Caretta Caretta. During your stay in Zakynthos you could visit beaches, which would please all tastes. Most of them are easily accessible by car or public transport but some of the most beautiful and unique could be reached only or more easily by boat. This is the reason why there are numerous places along the island to either hire a private boat (which you will drive yourself) or to take a boat tour or excursion. The choices are many and price, duration, distance, visited places vary accordingly (here is a good place to start in order to collect information)
Our favourite 5 beaches, reached by boat, during our stay in Zakynthos were :
1. Blue Caves (near Porto Vromi) : Blue Caves are one of the most famous attractions in Zakynthos. The caves are visited by thousands of tourists every year and owe their name to the extra blue and clear waters inside them. Objects below the water and people swimming appear to turn blue. The name Blue Caves usually refers to the caves that are located under Skinari Lighthouse near Agios Nikolaos Port, but there is also a second location with the same name between Porto Vromi and Navagio Beach. On the second location apart from the spectacular caves there are also small beaches (as the one pictured above) which can be reached by smaller boats. They are a paradise of natural beauty and at the same time not very crowded.
2. Porto Stenitis : Porto Stenitis is still one of the most unspoiled places in Zakynthos. It is located south of Porto Vromi and it is quite difficult to be reached from the mainland. From the village Maries you have to follow a difficult 10 km road, where the last 3 km are unpaved and usually in bad condition. If you choose to do the last km on foot, your return will be a hard task. The beach is a quite deep natural fjord with clear turquoise waters, so narrow at some points that a boat just passes through. The fjord ends at a small beach just a few meters wide. This place is unique and you will feel like swimming in a natural pool.
3. Marathonisi : Marathonisi (aka Turtle Island) is a small uninhabited island in the gulf of Laganas, covered with dense vegetation. On the North side of the island there is a wonderful sandy beach about 150 meters long, which is protected as a place of egg-laying by the sea turtles Caretta Caretta and it is watched over all day by guardians of the National Sea Park. However, you can reach the beach by boat and swim in these magnificent crystal clear blue waters. The place is also ideal for snorkeling, with a huge variety of sea creatures and fish. If you are lucky you could come across a sea turtle.
4. Keri Caves : Keri Caves are rock formations and sea caves located on the southern and south-western part of the Keri peninsula near the village of Marathia. They are accessible only from the sea and they are smaller than the Blue Caves on the north side of the island. However the waters here are also clear blue, the landscape is spectacular and there are significantly fewer ships and boats that reach them. At the centre of the location there is a small beach (pictured above) with sand and small pebbles that could be reached only by smaller boats, where you can relax and enjoy the sun and the sea. The place is also perfect for snorkeling, due to the fact, that it is the habitat of many animals like the Monk seal, the Caretta-Caretta turtle and many kinds of fish.
5. Navagio (Shipwreck Beach) : Navagio Beach is certainly the most photographed and famous beach in Greece. This is the beach that made Zakynthos famous and an international tourist destination. The beach was named Agios Georgios, when on 2 October 1980, the freight-liner “Panayiotis” ran aground on this beach due to stormy weather and bad visibility. It has been rumored the ship was smuggling cigarettes and therefore was abandoned. It still rests buried in the beach, which since then bears the nickname Navagio (which means Shipwreck). During the summer season the beach is reached daily by hundreds of boats (of all sizes), which carry thousands of visitors. But the landscape, the deep blue waters, the light on the white limestone and the ambience of the place, will still manage to amaze you and leave you breathless. Ideally, catch an early boat tour and be one of the first to set foot on the beach. Some days during summer, due to strong winds the beach cannot be reached, therefore ask for information from the local boat companies, the day before you plan your visit.
Finally watch a breathtaking video, sponsored by Levante Ferries, as an introduction to this special island :