Zakynthos (also known as Zante) is flush with beaches suitable for families, adventure-seekers and those in search of rest and relaxation. From the Instagram-famous Shipwreck Beach for which the island is known, to secluded secret coves, the beaches on this Ionian island are nothing short of unforgettable.
Accessible only by boat, the Shipwreck Beach (or Navagio in Greek) provides the perfect setting for those seeking clear, turquoise waters and white sand, all set between majestic cliffs. The beach owes its name to the MV Panagiotis ship, which washed up on its shore in 1980, and today still proves a major draw for visitors. The beach is currently closed to visitors as there is a serious possibility of landslides.
Deep, crystal-clear waters and white sand make this small beach an excellent choice for some downtime. Almost enclosed within the rocks that surround it, Porto Vromi is as private and undisturbed as it can be. Enjoy a nice swim (or snorkel!) and take in the peace and quiet before getting something to eat from the beach bar. For those wanting to make the most of the area, join the organised boat rides or rent a boat or a pedalo to get to Navagio as well as the mesmerising Blue Caves.
A favourite among young people, Porto Zorro marries the allure of unspoiled nature with a cosmopolitan vibe. The two grandiose rocks that emerge from its bright blue waters stand out against the beach’s verdant backdrop, creating a striking effect. Plentiful sunbeds and umbrellas will mean it’s easy to unwind here, at least for a little while – the real fun starts at the bar where some of the best rock parties are thrown until the early hours. Pro tip: As enticing as the rocks are, avoid diving from them, as the water here is shallow.
Daily buses provide easy transport links to the village of Tsilivi and its marvellous beach. This sandy beach with shallow waters perfect for paddling attracts families and watersport fanatics alike. Here, you can practise windsurfing, water skiing or pootle about on a pedalo. It’s worth noting that Tsilivi has been given the Blue Flag by the Greek National Tourism Organisation multiple times, guaranteeing the safety and cleanliness of its waters. Right at the end of the beach, there’s also a picturesque little harbour where local fishermen park their boats.
If you’re aiming for a quieter option without beach bars or watersports, then Gerakas could be your go-to beach. Part of the protected National Marine Park of Zakynthos, this long swathe of golden sand is home to the island’s Caretta Caretta (loggerhead sea turtles), who breed here. There’s even a chance you’ll witness an egg hatching, so be careful not to disturb the turtles during your visit. To ensure their safety, the beach is off limits half an hour before sunset and before sunrise.
Also a Caretta Caretta breeding ground, the bay of Laganas stretches for 9km (5.6mi), forming one of the largest beaches in Greece. Unlike Gerakas, though, the central part of Laganas is pretty busy, with plenty of sunbeds to choose from and no shortage of parking options. The water here is fairly warm and shallow, perfect for socialising before lying on the sand for some much-needed vitamin D. A short distance away, an array of restaurants and bars turn the area into party central at night.
If you’re still looking for some calm after a few hours at the vibrant Laganas Beach, venture out on a short boat ride (either from Laganas or Keri Beach) to the turtle-shaped Marathonisi islet, which is home to two beaches – one sandy and one pebbled, backed by lush vegetation. Pro tip: Make sure to bring enough supplies of food and water, as there are no stores in sight.
Equal parts sandy and pebbled, the beach of Makris Gialos combines the wilderness of a rocky landscape with the serenity of calm waters. The water here is impressively transparent and pretty deep, making Makris Gialos particularly popular among scuba divers. The beach is semi-organised with just a few sets of umbrellas and sunbeds, so you might consider bringing your own beach gear. You can, however, grab a bite at the little seaside fish tavernas, so there’s no risk of going hungry.
The astonishing, almost-white waters of Ksigia (or Xygia) serve as a natural healer for those suffering from chronic conditions such as arthritis. The sulphuric, warm springs around the beach effuse sulphur-filled water with significant healing properties. Get past the characteristic sulphur-y smell and you’ll soon be in a state of utter bliss. Ksigia is easily accessible by car and partly protected from the sun thanks to the surrounding caves and a limited number of umbrellas.
With waters so calm and clear they resemble those of a swimming pool, Porto Limnionas is paradise on earth. Though not technically a beach, this sheltered spot offers exceptional swimming and diving, thanks to the green-blue crystalline sea and surrounding caves. The fjord-like cove is lined with flat rocks – lay your towel down here and soak up the sun, before scouring the seabed for marine life.
Looking for more? Make a weekend of it and book a stay at one of the best hotels in Zakynthos. Too pricey? These great budget hotels are a more affordable option. Best of all, you can book your next stay right here on Culture Trip. You can also discover the best things to do in Zakynthos and then enjoy a delicious feast at one of these great restaurants.
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