Travel Guide: Exploring Zakynthos Greece
Hey Jetsetter! Are you ready to explore Zakynthos Greece with me?! Zakynthos is one of the Greek islands we visited that was quite memorable! It was our 3rd stop of our Greek vacation! The beaches were beautiful and the Greek people were just as friendly as anywhere else! To learn about how to travel between Greek islands, you can check out my post here. In this Zakynthos Greece guide, I will discuss what all you need to know about visiting Zakynthos, where we stayed, the famous spots and where to have an amazing sunset dinner! Stay tuned for my video summary of Zakynthos Greece here!
Zakynthos Greece: Getting Here
As I mentioned, visiting Zakynthos, Greece was our 3rd stop. We went here after visiting Kefalonia Island. The car we rented at Kefalonia airport gave the option to drop off the car at the port of Pessada. We decided to do a ferry option because the ride was only 1 hour and 20 minutes and cost only 9 euros paid only at the port and not in advance. Our hotel in Kefalonia recommended getting there early. In June, there were not a lot of people on the ferry, but in July or August I imagine it would not be the case. I don’t recommend taking a ferry if the ride will take more than 2-3 hours. In that case, it would be best to look for flight options to save time. For our departure, we did leave by plane to Santorini which stopped in Athens first. The ferry ride to Zakynthos was comfortable. I slept the entire time because I was so tired. The ferry arrives at the main port of Zakynthos called Agios Nikolaso port. This port is about 50 minutes from Zakynthos airport and from the hotel we stayed at Kymothoe Elite. From this port you are about 15-20 minutes from the famous Shipwreck beach which I will be discussing too. In Zakynthos, you definitely need to rent a car in order to get around and have the full experience. There are tours you can book but some spots and viewpoints you may not be able to see due to the size of buses and small streets. We arranged our car rental through our hotel which worked out great and cheaper! For tips on driving in Greece and renting a car, I highly recommend reading my post here!
Zakynthos Greece Hotel: Kymothoe Elite
The hotel we stayed at was Kymothoe Elite hotel! It was truly a hidden gem and we would definitely stay here again! I discovered this hotel on Booking.com which is where I booked our hotel too! Kymothoe Elite is located in Akrotiri Zakynthos near Tsilivi which is about a 20 min drive to the airport and about 30 minutes to Turtle Island. We booked the “Deluxe Suite with Sea view which this was basically a modern, upscale apartment with a separate bedroom! It had a full kitchen with refrigerator and a washer for your clothes which we took advantage of! The views of this hotel was gorgeous! It also had access to a private beach. Breakfast was included which included hot and cold options. Nikos the owner of the hotel was very helpful and arranged our transport from the port, our car rental and our transport to the airport as well! I recommend booking your car rental through Kymothoe Elite because the convenience of the car to come to you and the price was cheaper than what I found online seeing that it included insurance too. For full review of the hotel, see my post here.
Zakynthos Greece: Shipwreck “Navagio” Beach
This is the beach that made us want to visit Zakynthos! The blueness of this water is soo incredible and EVEN MORE so in person! This was one of my favorite beaches in Greece. I never seen water that was sooo clean and looked exactly like a swimming pool. This is a pebble beach and the rocks/pebbles in the water is very white with no algae or plant life underneath. All you see is blue and white. So to capture the beauty of this blue, you just have to hope it is a bright sunny cloudless day. The best time to go is when the sun high where it directly above the water so there is no shadows. This is usually between the hours of 12pm-3pm. However everyone knows this so it will be flooded with people and boats. So the only way to get to this beach is by boat. You cannot access it by foot or by car. The company I highly recommending using is Potamitis Bros. I found them online and asked our hotel if they recommended them and they did to. With Potamitis Boat Tours it is almost like a taxi service to Shipwreck beach where they can drop you off and they can take you back in 1 hour or you can wait for a later boat. The price was only about 15 euros each person. They also can take through the blue caves which we did and it was nice but we were all about getting to the beach. To shop my vacation looks, go to my shop page here! Or to shop my Spring/Summer wardrobe, click here!
One thing to keep in mind about this beach is there is absolutely no toilets, bars, umbrellas, beach chairs. It is completely secluded. So prepare accordingly. We brought sandwiches, water and juice with us and ate on the beach. We brought a beach towel which was sufficient. The actually beach were small pebbles so they did not hurt. The water the pebbles got bigger so having a pair of swimming shoes is a must on the beaches in Greece. I did not have any but had my flip flops which came off at times so I went back and forth between being bare foot and my flip flops. We were pretty fortunate that when we first arrived there were not that many people on the beach at a little past 1pm(June) and the sun was shinning. It was amazing to see the water get blue and blue as we pulled in. It was like someone poured ink in the water. We had da good 30 minutes of pure sunshine and then the overcast came at the same time more and more boats came and the beach became full. We were happy that we got there first to get an unobstructed view of the beach. We ended up staying an hour because the overcast was pretty large and we new the sun would not come out anytime soon and the water was not as pretty when it was cloudy.
So we made our way back to our car to get to the famous view point, which cannot be accessed by the beach but you must go by car. So there is no real direction on how to get there but we used our map and asked someone and they stated follow the main road. So the main road had the stripes on the actual road and that was our indicator. There were very few signs on the street to show Shipwreck viewpoint but the closer you get to the view point you see more signs. We actually got there within 30 minutes from the Lighthouse where you take the point for Potamitis Bros. When we got up there it still was not sunny but the sun eventually came out to get our shots. By this time it was 3:30pm when we arrived and a little bit of a shadow was starting to form but still very beautiful. Be very careful at this viewpoint. It is left at its natural state so NO GUARDRAILS. There was an angle that we wanted (beach end looking out to the sea). We asked a local about getting over to that viewpoint and he quickly don’t us to not go. A girl from Cuba fell off and died the day before. It is so dangerous there. So we opted to not venture out that way. VIEWPOINT TIP: If you are afraid to get to close but want to see the view, get a selfie stick. That is how we got our shots and video footage which turned out great!
Zakynthos Greece: Marathonisi “Turtle” Island
The best recommendation that our hotel gave us was to rent a boat and tour around the south part of the Zakynthos. We were very nervous about the idea because neither one of us has ever operated a boat, but we decided to check it out. They recommended Big Blue Motorboat Rentals but we could not find it from the road we took. You get to the boat rental area from Keri Beach.We found another company who offered us an amazing deal and a bigger boat. For 3 hours, we paid 50 euros for a nice boat with a canopy for shade from the sun. This price that they gave us was actually a discount to what they had advertised which was around 65 euros. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of this company, but they were posted at the port next to Nero Sport Diving Center and the Super Market. They gave us a quick crash course on how to use the boat and we did not even need any type of boating license or prior experience! We were quite surprised. We were nervous but they told us if we got lost the boat as a GPS tracking and so they can come and get us if we are not moving or we could call them.
Driving the boat was quite easier than we thought! The trickiest part is anchoring the boat. One time the anchor got caught in some coral. Being that my husband is Italian and lived by the sea, he knew how to maneuver the boat to get the anchor loose. There were different spots to dive and little private beaches that you can only get to by boat as well. We then drove to Turtle Island. The reason for its name is from the distance the form of the island resembles a turtle. There are also turtles that swim in the waters here but we did not see any. Upon arrival to Marathonsisi, there were people on the island but not crowded. We had our own personal space on the beach. The water was very clear and shallow and rocky and the further ot the water got a darker blue. This island is also secluded so bring your own food, drinks and umbrellas. However, there is a Beach Bar boat service that comes and sells drinks, alcohol and cocktails. There were some people on the island who would help you on dock your boat. We were kind of freaked out when they insisted on moving the boat because the side of the island we were on was getting a lot of wave action. They moved it to the otherside. I think they just wanted a tip. Because the sea became rocky due to the wind, we made our way back to mainland to give ourselves 20 mins. We spent about 45 minutes on the island but did not get a chance to really circle the island due to time. Renting a boat was such a wonderful experience and we will definitely do it again!
Zakynthos Greece: Cameo Island
This is a small island that you can get access via a long small bridged or pier! I really wanted to visit to catch the sunset but were pretty tired since the day we visited Turtle Island and Cameo Island was the same day as our arrival. We did make a small visit here but did not actually enter the island! What they do not tell you is that you have to pay 5 euros to enter the island but it includes a drink. No food on the island. It is mainly to relax enjoy a drink and must and the views! The main attraction is the bridge which we took photo on there! It is free to take photos. I would want to visit again during sunset because I have seen some amazing sunsets online. You get to Cameo Island via Laganas which was not too far of a drive from Keri Beach where you go to get to Turtle Island. I think the drive was about 20 minutes and that was including us getting a little bit turned around. For more suggestions and ideas of things to do in Zakynthos check out this link here. One other beach to visit that we passed but did not get a chance to stop at is Xigia Beach– Sulphur and collagen spa beach. This is a unique beach due to the unique mineral waters pouring down from the mountains above. You will know you have reached the Xigia Spa Beach when you smell sulphur! The water is very pretty here too and we spotted it on the way to visit Shipwreck beach from our hotel. For suggestions for other things to do or tours, click here!
Zakynthos Greece: Restaurants
Our last night in Zakynthos, we had a sunset dinner at Balcony Restaurant which is inside the Balcony Hotel! I discovered this restaurant on Instagram and it was a restaurant pretty much on the same road as our hotel. The decor in the inside was very nice! We came from Shipwreck Beach and I was clothed but being outside on the terrace, I felt a little underdress with my flip flops and tank top. Noone said anything but I went in the bathroom and put on my blouse I had in the car and changed into some nice sandals! There is a beautiful balcony terrace where you can see a magnificent sunset! It was such a gorgeous evening the sunset was amazing too! As the sunset set, camera went up and people went to the outer area of the terrace to enjoy the view. I met the manager of the restaurant and he was very nice! We had a nice octopus appetizer which was good and I ordered the famous moussaka which was like a Greek lasagna. It was very good and filling! The manager also offered us a dessert which was very good too! We will definitely come back for a visit here again!
So I hope you enjoyed this travel review of Zakynthos! You definitely need to visit here and experience it for yourself! Be sure to say tuned for the downloaded e-travel guide to take along with you when you visit Greece! It is a condensed version of this travel review!