The hidden beaches of Zakynthos



Filed under : Featured Articles, greece

Floating in the Ionian Sea off mainland Greece, Zakynthos – or Zante as it’s also known – is an escapist’s dream of paradise beaches, wild countryside and hillside hamlets. This has naturally made the island popular with holiday-makers; the resorts of the south like Laganas competing against the windsurfing waters of Alikes in the north. But if you’re looking for a path less-trodden, and you’re taking your holidays to Zante in 2013, read on for the best-kept secrets in Zakynthos beaches.

The tourist area of Tsilivi is well-documented in the holiday literature but venture further along the coast to the quiet sands known as Gaidaros, or ‘Donkey’ Beach, and you’ll only be sharing the view with a few locals. The verdant landscape which backs on to the shore here offers natural shaded areas and makes for a refreshing contrast to the rows of parasols seen elsewhere.

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Gerakas image by ph_en used under creative commons licence

The Gerakas peninsula in the south is a protected National Marine Park and a beautiful seaside spot. This part of the island is well-frequented by visitors but no watersports are allowed due to the nesting grounds of the native Loggerhead Turtles, so the atmosphere is a little more chilled. Escape the crowds heading out to Marathonisi Islet and try Porto Roma beach on the southern tip for a peaceful, pebbled alternative with minimal signs of civilisation.

If you’re staying in the Zante Town area, a short drive will take you to one of the crowning jewels of the island: Xigia Bay. The southern section is only accessible by rocky path from the taverna at the top of the cliffs, which also merits a stop on your way back up for some traditional salads and fresh fish dishes. Sulphuric underground springs make the water a little more fragrant than some would like here but the therapeutic value and dramatic scenery more than outweigh this.

If you’re staying in the Zante Town area, a short drive will take you to one of the crowning jewels of the island: Xigia Bay. The southern section is only accessible by rocky path from the taverna at the top of the cliffs, which also merits a stop on your way back up for some traditional salads and fresh fish dishes. Sulphuric underground springs make the water a little more fragrant than some would like here but the therapeutic value and dramatic scenery more than outweigh this.

The western portion of the island is less-populated with resorts and if you’re lucky enough to stay in the mountain village of Agios Leon, take the scenic drive to Limnionas. Not technically a beach, this rugged cove does boast a beautiful blue lagoon for swimming and some great diving in the caves beneath the headland.

You should also certainly make room on your itinerary for famous names like the Navagio ‘shipwreck’ cove and the Blue Caves at Cape Skinari; after all these beautiful sights are famous for a reason. Look beyond the tourist hordes however, and the island delivers a quiet wilderness of coves, lagoons and seclusion that’s well-worth seeking out.

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