The Greek island of Zakynthos, sitting off the country’s south west coast, is one of the jewels in the crown of the azure Ionian sea. Often referred to as Zante for short, here you’ll find holidays to suit everyone, from the hedonistic, carefree vibes of Laganas to the family friendly Tsilivi and beyond.
Though the verdant, lush landscapes inland are certainly attractive, and the Byzantine museum and Venetian Castle fascinating, Zante is most famous for its beaches. And with good reason; they’re as varied and gorgeous as you’ll find anywhere on the planet. We’ve undertaken the inevitable task of reclining on golden sands the length and breadth of the island in order to narrow it down to just five, to suit all tastes and interests. With that in mind, here are 5 of best beaches in Zakynthos, Greece.
We had to start here, though you may not wish to. Because Laganas is the most populated, lively beach resort on Zante, for better or worse, and is a major draw for visitors keen on drinking, dancing and debauchery.
Laganas Beach itself, in the south of Zante, looks out on the shallow and calm waters of Laganas Bay, but that’s where the tranquillity ends. It’s the longest beach on the island, stretching to 9km, and backing onto the majority of it are bars and tavernas selling raki and kebabs to the masses until late, and if that’s your thing, it’s a great focal point for your holiday.
If you’re in the area and seeking something more peaceful, nearby Kalamaki Beach is just a 5 minute drive away, and is a protected breeding ground for rare, threatened Loggerhead ‘’Caretta-Caretta’’ sea turtles. This means that part of the beach is closed to allow for nesting and egg laying, but the rest is as serene as it comes; there’s no watersports or other activity allowed in the sea here to protect the turtles.
Just south of Laganas (around a half hour walk) is Agios Sostis village. Here, you’ll find a gorgeous, rickety wooden footbridge which takes you across to Cameo island, a pine covered paradise with a couple of bars and a beach. Bliss!
NAVAGIO (SHIPWRECK BEACH)
Navagio Beach (sometimes referred to as Shipwreck Beach or Smuggler’s Cove) is perhaps the biggest draw for tourists visiting Zante. Only reachable by boat, this tiny cove and pebble beach on the island’s north west attracts visitors in their droves each year, here to view the coaster MV Panagiotis, which ran aground in 1980, possibly carrying smuggled goods and contraband, hence the nickname. The wreck itself still sits on the beach, rusted but amazingly preserved, and fascinating to see up close and personal.
The backdrop of turquoise, clear waters and a cliff above certainly frame the shipwreck beautifully, and there are several tour companies running day trips here. It’s also worth viewing Navagio Beach and the wreck of MV Panagiotis from above; you can reach the vantage point at the top of that sheer set of cliffs by car, motorbike or quad bike. It’s around a 45 minute drive from Tsilivi.
Rather than being one beach (though we’ll come to our favourite in a minute) Vasilikos is a collection of five villages with adjacent beaches on Zante’s south eastern peninsula, around 10km from Zakynthos City. Here, you’ll find peace and tranquillity abundant, with mountains, forests and olive groves overlooking the beaches meaning there’s less raucous action behind than the likes of Laganas would have you accustomed to. That’s not to say it’s deserted; there’s plenty of quality accommodation options in Zakynthos, and Vasilikos is no exception.
The main beaches here are Porto Kaminia, Saint Nicholas and Gerakas, and all three are lovely, but our favourite here is the latter…
18km south of the capital, Gerakas beach is one of Zante’s most attractive, with an undisturbed, unspoilt vibe made so because it’s part of the Zakynthos Marine Park, which protects the Caretta-Caretta turtle’s breeding and nesting. From a half hour prior to sunset to a half hour after sunrise, tourists are forbidden from entering the area. During the permitted hours, however, this is one serene spot, with golden sand, scattered rock formations and a large cove with crystal clear water and great swimming opportunities.
Also close to Zante’s main town is Makris Gialos Beach, which has a more traditional continental beach vibe, with chairs and umbrellas for rent, and food vendors selling fresh fruit juices and barbequed meats, with water sports permitted and popular here. Sometimes, that’s all you need, right?
If you’re hungry for a proper sit down meal, several tavernas line the beach. Our pick of the bunch? It has to be Pinarinos, which has a gorgeous terrace overlooking the beach and sea. Specialities include swordfish and rabbit in lemon sauce, but the savvy order from the specials; whatever’s fresh and from the sea, grilled, sounds like heaven to us.
If you’re seeking further inspiration, check out our 5 travel ideas for your holiday to Greece. Bon Voyage!