The Flower of The East | A Guide to Zakynthos
by GreeksConnect Team
1. SPECTACULAR BEACHES AND EXTREME WATERSPORTS
If beach quality ranks high on your vacation wish list, then you will find yourself spoilt for choice in Zakynthos where knock-out sandy seashores regularly feature on international beach lists. The Iconic Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach, with its rusty rising from the powdery white sand, creates a color contrast made even more dramatic by the limestone cliffs and turquoise sea. While hard-to-reach Navagio on the northwestern part of the island is ideal for base-jumping enthusiasts, families with children may want to steer clear as it isn’t serviced, and choppy seas surround it.
Gerakas, 18km south of Zakynthos town, has pristine sand that slopes gently into the sea making it ideal for children. The vast sandy beach offers a sense of seclusion, however watersports are limited so as not to disturb the Caretta Caretta turtles that nest here. Laganas beach, known for its wild nights of partying has also cordoned off the part of the beach that belongs to the National Marine Park to avoid disturbing the endangered loggerhead turtles. Swim here, and enjoy the currents creating pockets of hot and cold ripples massaging your skin.
St. Nicholas, Alykes and Tsilivi (where the island’s waterpark is located) are ideal for watersports from flyboarding to parachuting. Apart from your run-of-the-mill beach thrills, Zakynthos is the birthplace of the subwing craze that was invented by Norwegian teenager Simon Sivertsen while on vacation at the Peligoni Club at St. Nicholas. Inspired by the clarity of the water on the island, he used banana boxes to create a device that pulls people underwater with a rotatable swivel so that they feel like they’re dolphins.
“The vast sandy beach offers a sense of seclusion, however watersports are limited so as not to disturb the Caretta Caretta turtles that nest here”
2. A NATURAL PARADISE ON EARTH
For many, the main lure to the island is the chance to see the endangered Caretta Caretta sea turtles up close. Join the enthusiastic volunteers of the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, Archelon, doing beach rounds at dawn each morning and you may get a chance to see eggs hatch. Only one out of every 1,000 hatchlings make it to adulthood, with many losing their orientation due to nearby beach bar lights, getting snapped up by predators or choking on plastic bags. Find out all you need to know about the exquisite turtles by visiting the Turtle Museum at Daphne.
The Zakynthos Marine Park protects nesting beaches (Gerakas, Daphne, Sekania, Kalamaki, Laganas, Marathonissi) as well as the wetlands of Keri Lake where migrating birds gather and the small islands of Strofadia. Other endangered creatures include the Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus Monachus as well as dolphins that sometimes swim by boats, enjoying their interaction with people.
Zakynthos is abundant with nature. The Venetians didn’t nickname the lush island “Il fiore di Levante” (Flower of the East) for nothing. Meadows carpeted with chicories, daisies and poppies as well as many other varieties of flowers create hues of color and fragrance throughout the year. Apart from the towns that burst with cherry-red bougainvillea, there are wild herbs growing on the fertile countryside and numerous trees where passers-by can pluck figs, olives or whatever other produce their heart desires in this paradise.
Visit Askos Stone Park that has more than 200,000 trees, plants and shrubs that are endemic to the island or familiarize yourself with the natural heritage of the island by visiting Helmi’s Natural History Museum.
“Zakynthos is abundant with nature. The Venetians didn’t nickname the lush island “Il fiore di Levante”(Flower of the East) for nothing.”
3. LOCAL CUISINE WITH HIGH-QUALITY INGREDIENTS