Greek Islands Guide

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Zakynthos, also commonly referred to as Zante, is a small island in Western Greece, and part of the Ionian group of islands. With its crystal clear waters, good food, excellent nightlife, and of course its long hot summers, plus the existence of an international airport, has made this island a popular tourist destination. People who have enjoyed holidays to other Greek islands are sure to enjoy a stay on Zakynthos (Zante).

The capital and main port of the island Zakynthos town is also the commercial and cultural centre of the island. The town needed to be practically rebuilt after the 1953 earthquake, resulting in the new town being built on the ruins of the ancient one. The plan was to preserve the traditional architectural style, but this was only possible in a few areas, like the spacious Solomos Square, so today only a few traditional buildings and churches still remain.

Solomos Square in Zakynthos town is a large, white stoned square located off the main road that runs along the harbour front.  It is named after Dionysios Solomos 1798-1857, a poet from Zakynthos, who is best known for writing the words to the Greek National Anthem. A number of taverna‚Äôs and bars are situated around this majestic square.

Zakynthos 3Argassi is a beach resort located in the south east of the island. The resort itself has a sandy but narrow beach, but the area area has number of small coves that are less crowded and well worth a visit. Argassi is fast becoming one of the most popular resorts on the island and so has little or none of what can be considered as the traditional Greek atmosphere, but it does have a good selection of shops, restaurants, and bars plus a number of discos. This resort although lively, is popular with families, couples and youngsters alike.

Zakynthos 4Laganas, on the south west coast of Zakynthos, is the largest resort on the island. Laganas has a superb 9 kilometre long beach with umbrellas and sun beds for rent. The beach is ideal for children, with its shallow, waters and the fine sand. It can become very busy at the height of the season, but a walk along the beach away from the centre and it becomes much quieter. Due to the nearby nesting of the Loggerhead turtle, there are no watersports from this beach. There are numerous shops bars and taverna's, and in the evening the liveliest nightlife on the island.

Zakynthos 5Located on the north face of Kavelaris hill set amongst vineyards and olive groves, lies the pretty  village of Tragaki.  Although set in a little from the coast, the village boasts some superb panoramic views over the Ionian sea. just a short walk from the centre of the village will bring you to a small picturesque harbour. Also in the area are a number of beaches with shallow waters and gently shelving sands. A little further away is the village of Tsilivi with its taverna's, bars and watersports.

Kalamaki, situated close to the airport, is basically one long main street lined with bars, taverna's, and souvenir shops, off of which are located numerous hotels and apartment blocks. Kalamaki is quieter and a little more up-market than either Laganas or Argassi.

Zakynthos 7Female Loggerhead turtles can often be seen resting in the shallow coastal waters after their journey to the island. They nest and lay their eggs on the beaches in the evening, so to aid the survival of the Loggerhead there are a number of rules that need to be adhered to. Litter creates a major hazard and turtles have been known to suffocate trying to eat plastic bags. Loud noises can disorientate female turtles making them confused about where to lay their eggs. Bright torch lights and flashing cameras can frighten them back into the sea.

Zakynthos 8On the North West of the island at Navagio beach, a coaster carrying contraband cigarettes was wrecked, ever since which the beach has been referred to as smugglers cove. This white course sand beach is only accessible by boat, but can become quite busy during a few hours in the day when boats come and go with tourist on round the island trips. The wreck is not cordoned off in any way, and almost every visitor to the beach takes the opportunity to climb aboard. It should be remembered that this is a rusting hull, and care should be taken.

Situated between Laganas and Keri, is the small islet of Aghios Sostis. What this little islet lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in beauty, with a number of small coves and the fragrance of its pine trees. It was once connected to the mainland, but was separated from it in 1633 during an earthquake. The islet got its name from a 16th century church that once stood on the site.

In the north of the island and to the east of Cape Schinari, are located the Blue Caves, which is a series of white rock geological formations that have been formed into a unique seascape. This complex of caves and arches that have been carved out by natural erosion, is particularly famous for the deep azure colour of the water in its hollows. The effect is most prevalent in the morning when the light is at its brightest.


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