Zante's best beaches & caves
Caves, beaches, endangered turtles and that shipwreck: Zante - traditionally Zakynthos - in the Ionian chain of islands in Greece, really does have it all.
Whether you're familiar with Zante or not, you'll most certainly have seen pictures of this idyllic Greek island and will no doubt be itching to discover its beautiful beaches and bays for yourself.
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Whether it's a flat expanse of white sand, some only accessible by boat and quiet, even in mid-August, or rocky bays excellent for snorkelling lovers, the choice of beaches is endless in Zante.
The cream of the crop can be found on the east and west coasts. Beaches along the west coast are mostly reached by boat. The most famous of these - one of the most photographed places in Greece and symbolic of beach holidays in the region - is Navagio Beach, or Shipwreck Beach.
The iconic relic is a freighter that ran aground in October 1980 during bad weather. It adds a sense of ambience to this area as its rusty skeleton just rests in the sand, surrounded by sheer limestone cliffs from which base-jumping is a popular sport.
The startlingly azure sea surrounding it needs no camera filter, and to swim and snorkel in these waters is truly a pleasure.
Tour boats regularly make trips to Navagio Beach but note that no facilities or shade can be found here (unless you manage to find a spot by the ship). Take plenty of water and sun cream, plus a cover-up.
Other beaches on the western side include Plakaki, a rocky but flat stone beach with a steep walk down to it, and the remote, almost wild Porto Limnionas, popular for its blue waters and small caves.
The slightly more accessible east coast beaches make them more popular for families to visit, and include places such as Makris Gialos, a deep water, sand and pebble mix that looks like somewhere straight out of the Caribbean.
The underwater labyrinth of caves makes it perfect for snorkellers, and you can expect to find a few facilities on the beach such as umbrellas and refreshments.
If you're looking for something a little more catered, then head to Alkyes. Fine sand with sunbeds, umbrellas, places to eat, and water sports guarantee a more organised experience.
Meanwhile, the most popular beach has to be Tsilivi, where the long ribbon of sand gives way to rocks in the sea. Here you can rent pedalos, water scooters, play beach volleyball or any number of beach sports, and simply just relax before choosing from a number of places to eat.
For something a little different, it's well worth taking a trip out to Marathonisi, or Turtle, Island. Located in the marine park just off the south coast of Zante, the island's famous loggerhead turtles come here to lay their eggs.
It's possible to visit on an organised boat trip although it's not possible for individuals to anchor their own boats due to the marine park location and protected nature of the island.
Swim on one of two beaches, either sandy or pebbly, and explore the caves around its coast. If you're quiet, you might even spot the rare Mediterranean monk seal.
You won't find any facilities on the island; it's the closest to a 'desert island' adventure amongst nature you'll get, so a day's boat trip with picnic included is perfect for all the family.
Blue & Keri Caves
Another hugely popular spot, and one that graces the pages of many holiday guides, can be found at the Blue Caves to the northwest of the island. They maintain their accurate name as the water is reflected an azure blue from the geological formations of the rocks and an organised boat trip here is not to be missed.
The lesser-known Keri Caves to the southwest of the island offer awe-inspiring rock formations and it's also possible to swim off the boats, although the water isn't quite as clear and striking as at the Blue Caves.
Hidden beaches and crags await, and you can round off your day by experiencing the sun setting into the sea from Keri's Lighthouse.
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