Zakynthos, also known as Zante (or fiore di levante), is the third largest island in the Ionian sea. Due to its mild Mediterranean climate, Zakynthos is a very fertile island with olive trees, vineyards and lush green scenery.
Zakynthos town (or chora), the island’s capital, stands amphitheatrically on a wide bay, watched over by the ruins of a Venetian fortress. The town’s arcaded streets are full of shops, restaurants, bars which cover any taste!
The town was completely destroyed during a massive earthquake in 1953, but it was later reconstructed with respect to its previous architectural style and character. The North part of the island has spectacular white cliffs and sea caves, whilst around the Southern and Eastern coastline you will find a handful of lively beach resorts such as Kalamaki, Alikanas, Laganas and Tsilivi that offer a variety of tavernas, bars etc.
Zakinthos is very famous for its beaches and more particularly for the Shipwreck (Navagio!) which is the island’s worldwide trademark. The shipwreck is located in the Eastern part of the island and is accessible only by (sailing or motor) boat.
Some of the best beaches in Zakynthos are Ag. Nikolaos, Alikes, Argasi, Gerakas, Kalamaki, Keri, Laganas, Porto Roma, Tsilivi, Vasilikos and Xigia beach. The beaches of Kalamaki and Laganas are also the home of the sea turtle caretta-caretta and part of the National Marine Park. Do not miss the exotic island Marathonisi for a swim stop while sailing Zakynthos island in the Ionian (Eptanisa) sailing area. Be aware that you may visit Marathonisi only during daylight, as this small uninhabited island is where the sea turtles breed.
In general, Zakynthos is an island of contrast that combines both tourism development and unspoilt nature. The amazing green landscapes, the incredible green-emerald waters and the warm hospitality of its friendly inhabitants will make you fall in love with Zakynthos!!!
The weather in Zakynthos (Zante) is the typical Mediterranean climate consisting in hot, sunny summers and mild, rainy winters. More specifically during the summer season, from May to October, rain is very rare and the temperatures are between 30 degrees celsius (86 degrees fahrenheit) and 40 degrees celsius (104 degrees fahrenheit). A fresh breeze is very often blowing and the wind, the Maistro, typical of this island rises in the early afternoon from North to South. During the night, it can also get pretty chilly, so a light jacket proves to be very useful!
You can moor your boat in Zakynthos town only. For anchorages, you may go to Ag. Nikolaos bay, Alikes, Porto Roma, Gerakas, Laganas beach, Keri, Ag. Sostis islet and Vroma bay.
According to the ancient Greek poet and writer, Homer, the island of Zakinthos was first inhabited during the Neolithic Age by the son of King Dardanos, Zakynthos and his men. It is believed that in the later years, Zakynthos island became part of Odysseus kingdom, king of Ithaca. After the Trojan War, the Zakynthians gained independence from the kingdom of Ithaca and a peace treaty was signed which enabled the establishment of a democratic political system that lasted 650 years. In the years that followed, Zakinthos together with the other Ionian islands was captured successively by the Athenians, the Macedonians, the Romans and the Venetians. The Italian rule protected the island from Ottoman domination but in its place it put a feudal oligarchy. It also allowed the island to flourish from both the cultural and architectonic point of view. With the fall of the Venetians, Zakynthos came under the rule of the French, the Turkish, the Russians and finally the British. Zakynthos joined Greece in 1864 together with the rest of the Ionian Islands.
Places of interest:
While in Zakynthos town, you can visit the Byzantine Museum and the church of St Dionisios (patron saint of the island). About 2km from the town, you may visit the Venetian Fortress (Kastro) which was built in the 17th century. Further away (about 35km north) is the village of Anafonitria where you can visit the Monastery of Theotokos Anafonitria (built in the 14th century). The ridge area from Anafontria has an observation deck which overlooks the shipwreck.
Also worth visiting are: the lighthouse in Keri for superb sunsets, the village of Bochali overlooking Zakynthos capital and of course the Blue Caves, one of the most popular and advertised attractions of the island. The Blue Caves are a series of geological formations that have created a unique seascape. You can visit them with your own sailing boat or with one of the many organised tours.
Zakinthos island offers a variety of watersports and some amazing diving. You will find watersports such as paragliding, water ski, banana and ringo rides, jet-ski bikes, pedaloes and canoes in Vasilikos and Alykes beach. As for diving centres, you can go to Laganas, Limni Keriou and Vasilikos. Many of the dive sites are in caves around the island where a wide range of marine life can be found, such as moray eels, monk seals, octopus, and sea turtles (caretta caretta).