Shipwrecks or Turtles? – taking a boat trip on your Greek holiday to Zakynthos

Are you a secret pirate or a nature loving mermaid? On the Greek island of Zakynthos you’ll have the chance to play at being both, if you take one of the boat trips that are a favourite with visitors to the island. As my sister lives on Zante (as it’s more popularly known to the Brits) I’ve had the good fortune to take a holiday in Greece every year and we’ve done a few boat trips in our time. While there are some variations, you’ll typically find a couple of choices depending on whether you want to explore the rocky north or the golden beaches to the south of the island.

Navagio, Smuggler's cove, Zante Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Navagio, Smuggler’s cove, Zante

Visit the Blue caves and Shipwreck beach

If you’ve seen any photos of Zakynthos, chances you’ll have seen the one of Shipwreck cove or Navagio, taken from the cliffs above. This crescent of sand, with a half-buried, rusty wreck and high cliffs on either side, is one of the most photographed beaches in Greece.

To reach Navagio, which is on the north-west coast of the island, you’ll typically take one of the many trips from St Nicholas port or from Makris Gialos, a small beach that is just before St Nicholas port. We started our boat trip at Makris Gialos on a smallish boat which took up to 20 people, had a shaded awning and a powerful motor.

The boat made good headway on relatively calm waters at first and we passed the sea caves, known locally as the ‘Blue Caves’ that the sea has cut into the limestone cliffs. We didn’t stop but powered on around the northern tip of the island, at which point the sea started to become decidedly rough. Around 40 minutes after leaving the beach we were all feeling a bit seasick and were relieved when the Shipwreck beach came into sight.

Navagio or Shipwreck beach on Zante, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Navagio or Shipwreck beach on Zante, Greece

The metal hull of the ship on the sand is supposed to be a cigarette smuggler’s boat that went aground in the 1980s, or perhaps that’s just a nice story to tell the tourists. In any case it adds some interest to a beautiful beach which is larger than it appears from above and can only be reached by sea, due to the sheer limestone cliffs.

On the day we visited the swell was high and although the captain skillfully moved the boat as close as he could, it wasn’t possible to get it right up on the beach. If we wanted to get ashore, we’d have to jump in and swim through the surf which is what we did, although I was knocked over by the force of the waves and ended up with sand in my bikini and water up my nose. We spent around 20 minutes on the beach and I took the opportunity to walk around the ship which was broken in half, making a shady area inside, with a hull that had rusted away into lacy holes.

Shipwreck cove, Navagio on Zante Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Shipwreck cove, Navagio on Zante

We swam back to the boat and powered back the way we had come, with the captain showing no mercy to those of us feeling sick as he opened the throttle and the boat banged up and down on the waves. Things improved once we rounded the headland and entered sheltered waters again, returning to explore the sea caves. The captain nosed the boats into a few of the caves where the water below us was startlingly deep cobalt blue and turquoise. We anchored for a while and had a chance to swim and snorkel around the boat before returning to Makris Gialos.

Boat trip to the Blue Caves on Zante, Greece Photo: Heateronhertravels.com

Boat trip to the Blue Caves on Zante, Greece

This boat trip takes around 2-3 hours and you need to check whether the sea is rough or calm as this will affect your experience. Bear in mind that even if it is calm at your resort, it may still be windy with rough seas in the north of the island. Also consider the size of the boat, as a larger boat may be more stable but a smaller boat will be able to get you closer into the beach. For those that don’t want to brave the choppy seas to the shipwreck beach, you can still do a very pleasant boat trip in a glass bottom boat to the sea caves, with plenty of opportunities for swimming, which will also make a shorter trip. Our boat trip cost around €20 per person and you may be able to negotiate a discount for larger groups.

Boat trip to the Blue Caves on Zante, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boat trip to the Blue Caves on Zante, Greece

See the Turtles in Laganas bay and swim in the Keri caves

If you want a gentler boat trip for your holiday in Greece, I’d suggest that you head for the southern end of Zakynthos, for one of the boat trips that take you through Laganas Bay and around to the Keri caves. This end of the island is famed for the beautiful golden sandy beaches and the Loggerhead or Caretta Caretta turtles that nest on them. These boat trips are typically sold as an opportunity to see the turtles swimming in Laganas Bay, but you should be aware that their numbers are dwindling so you need to go with a reputable boat owner who will respect the laws of the National Marine Park and not harrass the turtles.

Porto Roma, Zante Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Porto Roma, Zante

We’ve taken this trip twice on different styles of boats which gave a slightly different experience although we went to the same locations on both trips. The first occasion was a half-day trip on a catamaran which had a cabin and plenty of space on deck at the back and front of the boat to spread out. We left from the small beach at Porto Roma which meant that the first hour was spent travelling along the coast with views of the limestone cliffs, until we rounded the point and crossed Laganas Bay to swim in the Keri caves. On the second occasion we went on a much smaller, glass bottomed boat from Agios Sostis close to Laganas which meant that we had a shorter trip of around 2 hours, which was still plenty of time.

Loggerhead turtle in Laganas bay, Zakynthos Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Loggerhead turtle in Laganas bay, Zakynthos

Either on the way out or the way back the boat is likely to take you into Laganas bay which is the main place you will see the turtles swimming in the water. Beware of any boat owners who guarantee you’ll see the turtles as this makes it more likely that the few that are around will be chased and tracked down just to give you your sighting. There are also strict rules about the contact with the turtles, for instance you’re not allowed to swim close to the turtles or to pull them out of the water and a limited number of boats are allowed near a turtle at any one time.

All this means that you’ll probably be able to see the turtles for around 10 minutes before the boat needs to move away. On our first boat trip, we went with local naturalist Yannis Vardakastanis, who runs the Earth Sea and Sky volunteer and information programme with a centre at Gerakas beach, one of the other turtle nesting sites, but on this occasion we didn’t actually see any turtles. On the second trip we did spot one and there were several boats close to it all homing in to take a look, so I felt a bit sorry for the turtle.

Boat trip to Keri caves, Zakynthos Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boat trip to Keri caves, Zakynthos

The second part of the boat trip takes you to the far side of Laganas bay and under the high limestone cliffs at Keri where there are some sea arches and caves, although not as deep as the Blue Caves on the north-east coast. When the boat anchors, this is a lovely place to jump off into the clear water and swim or snorkel. On the return trip, you are likely to stop at Marathonisi or Turtle island, a small island in the bay that makes the shape of a turtle and is also one of the nesting beaches for the turtles.

Marathonisi or Turtle island in Laganas bay, Zakythinos Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Marathonisi or Turtle island in Laganas bay, Zakythinos

You are not allowed to land on the small sandy beach where the turtles nest, and even if you have your own boat you should not do so. On the opposite side of the island is another small beach and a sea cave where you are allowed to land and this is where you can relax for a while and have a swim. There’s even a boat that comes around selling ice creams and drinks, just like an ice cream van.

If you want to take the turtle spotting boat trip, there are many boats that offer it going either from Laganas resort, from the small marina at Agios Sostis or from the harbour at Keri, and if you’re in one of the holiday resorts you’ll also come across plenty of people selling you this as a day trip with transport to and from the resort. The shorter 2-3 hour trips typically cost €20-25 per person and you can also rent small boats for 6-8 people to take out yourself into the bay, which would be fun if there’s a large group of you and you feel confident handling the boat.

There are plenty more things to see and do on the Greek island of Zakynthos, but it’s well worth doing one of these boat trips while you’re there. It’s a lovely way to see the island and was certainly a highlight of our holiday.

This article by Heather Cowper  was brought to you with Cosmos Holidays, who offer great deals for your next holiday to Greece.

More things to do on Zante

Three days, three beaches on Zante
Get in your car and drive! The bits of Zante that you won’t see from your sunbed
Swimming the turquoise blue at Porto Limnionas

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Shipwrecked on Navagio – the most photographed beach on Zante

This is the beach that features on practically every postcard of Zante. You’ve probably seen it in glossy coffee table books featuring beautiful shots of Greece. It regularly gets a mention on those lists of “best beaches in the world“. This is the beach that’s known on the Greek island of Zakynthos as Navagio, but to tourists as Shipwreck beach or Smuggler’s cove.

Navagio or Shipwreck cove on Zante, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Navagio or Shipwreck cove on Zante, Greece

Navagio is certainly one of the most photogenic beaches in Greece. That rusty old wreck, stranded on the crescent of pale sand, framed by the steep limestone cliffs and the turquoise sea, make a winning photographic combination. You can get that postcard shot yourself, from a metal platform that juts out from the cliff above the beach, where you’ll also find a taverna, ice cream van and stalls selling local honey and souvenirs. A couple of years ago I stood on the metal platform and took the postcard shot you see above, but on this summer’s visit to Zante I thought it was about time that I paid the Shipwreck beach a personal visit.

Boat trip from Makris Gialos on Zante, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boat trip from Makris Gialos on Zante, Greece

The only way that you can set foot on Shipwreck beach is by boat and most of the boat trips around the north end of Zakynthos will take you there. We didn’t fancy one of the full day “round the island” trips that go from Zante town, as these tend to be larger boats and a whole day in the sun and on the waves could be too much of a good thing. We decided instead to drive further north to where the smaller boats go on frequent trips from either St Nicholas port or Makris Gialos, a small beach that is just before the St Nicholas port on the north-east tip of Zakynthos.

There’s a little kiosk beside the road at Makris Gialos and from there we booked for a 2-3 hour trip on a speedboat that would take around 20 people. The lady at the kiosk warned us that the sea around the Shipwreck beach was quite rough today, so the boat might not be able to take us right up to the beach. “You don’t get sea-sick?” she asked and we all shook our heads, looking out at the gently lapping waves on the beach and wondering how there could possibly be a problem.

Navagio or Shipwreck cove on Zante, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from the boat of Shipwreck beach on Zante, Greece

The boat powered away from the jetty and as soon as we were clear of land the captain, a wiry Greek with an all over tan and a cigarette glued in his hand, opened the throttle and the nose of the speedboat rose into the air. At first the speed and spray felt thrilling and the girls clambered onto the front of the boat to sun themselves in their bikinis. However as the boat rounded the northernmost point of the island and entered unprotected waters, the sea became more choppy and the speedboat was banging up and down onto the waves.

The girls scrambled for the safety of their seats behind the captain and we all clung on, wishing that he would slow down a little. By the time Shipwreck bay came into sight around 40 minutes from leaving the beach, we were all feeling distinctly queasy and wished that we could get off the boat.  Now we were close to the Shipwreck beach and the captain skillfully manouvred the speedboat as close to shore as he could, so that we could make the short swim to shore for a closer look.

Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos, Greece

Despite the swell, we all managed to swim ashore, although a large wave knocked me off my feet and tumbled me round like a washing machine, sending seawater up my nose and dropping me spluttering into the shallows with a bikini full of gravel. Because we couldn’t bring our towels or picnic from the boat, we just walked around to look at the rusty hull of the ship and the girls lay at the water’s edge being washed by the surf. The boat was supposedly smuggling cigarettes when it went aground in the 1980s although that could just be a story the Greeks tell to give it a dramatic twist for the tourists.

The hull was broken open with a shady place to sit in the sand beneath and had corroded away to make a lacework of holes in the side through which I could look back to our group on the sand. I didn’t dare attempt to bring my I-Phone through the surf to take any photos, but my niece Sophia gave hers to the captain who put it in a plastic bag and swam one-armed with it above his head until he judged the swell just right and scrambled ashore. I borrowed Sophia’s phone to take these pictures of the shipwreck from the beach, and then after around 30 minutes we all swam back to the boat which was pitching back and forth in the swell.

On Navagio or Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

On Navagio or Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos, Greece

It was a bit grim speeding back around the northern point of the island, as we all felt sea-sick and the captain showed no mercy with the speed of the boat. He seemed intent on getting back as quickly as possible, as the seas tend to get rougher as the day goes on. Once we were around the point the sea calmed and the captain slowed down as we neared the second part of our boat trip, a visit to the sea caves known as the Blue Caves. We had swum in similar sea caves on last year’s boat trip from Agios Sostis around Laganas bay where we had spotted some loggerhead or Caretta Caretta turtles that nest on the southern beaches of Zante. The captain nosed the boat into a couple of the sea caves to show us the intense sparkling blue colour of the water in the caves that gives them their name, then we anchored for a while to give everyone a chance to swim and snorkel.

Boat trip to the Blue Caves on Zante Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boat trip to the Blue Caves on Zante

After around 30 minutes at the caves, we started back to the beach and this time the ride was much more leisurely and pleasant, so that by the time we docked we had all but forgotten the sea-sickness we felt before. I highly recommend a boat trip to Shipwreck Beach if you want to see a unique side of Zante but I’d also recommend that you heed the warnings of the locals if they tell you that the sea is too rough, as it may be deceptively calm on one side of the island but much rougher on the other side if the wind is high.

Tips if you’d like to take this boat trip

  • We took the boat trip from Makris Gialos, where there is a kiosk by the road above the beach and a small shop and taverna.
  • Other options are to take a similar boat trip from St Nicholas Port, on the north-east coast of Zakynthos where a number of different boats do the same 2-3 hour trip, or to book a full day ‘Round the Island’ trip from Zante town or from other resorts on the island. Some boat trips will also take you just to the Blue Caves which is a shorter 1.5 hour trip and may be better if you don’t like rough seas.
  • Our 2.5-3 hour boat trip cost €20 per person although you may be able to negotiate a discount if you have a group of 6 or more.
  • You should take a look at the boat to ensure that it has full shade and consider the size of the boat. For this trip a boat that takes 15-20 people is best as it will be small enough to get into the Blue Caves and to get close to Shipwreck Beach. A larger boat may be more stable but you may not be able to get close to the beach.
  • The Blue Caves are on the north-east side of the island where the sea is much calmer, while Shipwreck beach is on the north-west side where the sea is rough. Take local advice on the best day to go when the sea is not too rough and if you are prone to sea-sickness, you may want to consider medication or not go to the Shipwreck Beach but just do the trip to the Blue Caves.
  • If you are based at the southern end of Zakynthos as we were at Argassi, you may want to try a turtle spotting boat trip instead that will take you thorough Laganas Bay to spot for turtles, followed by swimming around the sea caves at Keri.

More tales from Zante

 Jetting off to Zante with Jet2.com
Sunshine, beaches and freddoccinos – my week on Zante in Instagram photos
Is this the best beach in the world? – Navagio on Zante

Jet2.comThanks to Jet2.com for providing flights for Heather’s trip to Zakynthos, Greece. Jet2.com runs weekly  flights to Zante from Manchester and Leeds Bradford and flights from many other local UK airports to your favourite holiday destinations. You can follow Jet2.com updates on their Facebook page

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

Sunshine, beaches and freddoccinos – my week on Zante in Instagram photos

While I was on the Greek island of Zante last week I kept an Instagram photo diary of all the the things I enjoyed with my family. This year, with teenagers in sunbathing mode and hubbie looking to recharge, the focus was on exploring all the glorious beaches on Zakynthos by car and by boat. If you want to hear about the history of Zante, go turtle spotting or taste some local Greek wines  you can find all that too in my articles from past holidays on Zakynthos. We’ve been coming to the island for years, to visit my sister who lives here and runs the two Windmill Hotels with her Greek husband, so each year we try and do something different.

Instagram

If you hover or click on the Instagram collage below, you’ll find my commentary for each photo, which I also post to my Twitter and Facebook page , so you can follow the trip whichever way you like using hashtag #jet2blogger, as Jet2.com kindly brought us to the island on their flight from Manchester. This year I also experimented with making some short Instagram videos so click through to my Instagram channel if you’d like to see some of these. I hope you enjoy the photo journal and don’t forget to follow my travels on Instagram

Follow my travels on Instagram

More tales from Zante

 Jetting off to Zante with Jet2.com
Get in your car and drive – the bits of Zakynthos you won’t see from your sunbed!
Three beaches, three days on Zante

Jet2.comThanks to Jet2.com for providing flights for Heather’s trip to Zakynthos, Greece. Jet2.com runs a weekly flight to Zante from Manchester and Leeds Bradford and flights from many other local UK airports to your favourite holiday destinations. You can follow Jet2.com updates on their Facebook page

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at  Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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