Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Sail Back: Zakynthos

The Greek Islands had always seemed like (one of so many) out of reach travel destinations for me, full of secluded beaches, and whitewashed villages I would never be able to afford to visit. 

Thanks to the recession and lowcostholidays.com though in June 2011 I booked my ticket to the Ionian island of Zante.

Panoramic Views

We were booked on our first ever package holiday which promised us an easy journey and no frills unless we wanted them.

I must admit, after a few holidays involving early starts and sleeping in Costa Coffee, I was pleased to let Olympus do their thing and guide me to be destination. I was too engrossed in Captain Corelli's Mandolin about neighbouring island Kefalonia to notice most of the journey there anyway.

View of Kefalonia from Zante

Shipwreck Beach

Zante is famous for having one of the worlds most photographed beached. Navagio Beach is home to the wreck of a smuggling vessel which ran aground in the 1980 after getting into problems.

Whilst on the island we booked onto a boat tour which circles the island starting the Zante town. We passed the beach but unfortunately the conditions weren't suitable for us to land, so instead we swam and jumped into the sea from a calmer spot, poking into caves and coves along the way.

Shipwreck Beach - Zante

Towards the end of the sailing we passed Marathonisi Island, also called Turtle Island on account of its shape and the fact it's a nesting site for loggerhead turtles.

The engines slowed as we passed and everyone craned their heads to catch a glimpse of a turtle. After about 15 minutes hope seemed lost until I head Mark start shouting and pointing. He'd spotted a turtle, and I caught a glimpse before it disappeared into our wake. I was so happy and felt so special to be one of a select view to have seen a turtle that day. Below is a short video of from the boat trip showing the beautiful blue waters and white cliffs.


Our accommodation was self catering apartments, so we could explore the local restaurants and dive into the amazing Greek food. Tsilivi was a quiet village which was quickly developing and each restaurant had an eager Maitre d' on the door giving out business cards quicker than a phone box on Saturday nights. I didn't care though, I was in Greece, and I was hungry!

Tiny chapel in Tsilivi

We did find some amazing food, including kelftiko, rabbit Zakynthos and a particularly memorable tiramisu. I was amazed and it certainly sparked a love of Greek food in my heart.

When we weren't relaxing pool side or reading, we hiring jet skis or quad bikes to explore the island. We discovered a few treasures including an empty beach bar called Portofino which, though beautiful, would eventually give Mark food poisoning, and a panoramic terrace with views over Zante town.

Portofino Beach Cafe - Zante

Although some may see Zante as a party island, we managed to completely avoid it and get a generous holiday is a quiet area which was exactly what we wanted.

I loved our time in Zante, enjoying the quieter side of a notorious party island which held a few surprises just for us because we were willing to look.

Me and Mark in Zante
Other blog from the Sail Back series: