For some, there’s only one Zante beach. Yes, Shipwreck Cove gets most of the limelight, but this island has much more than a rusty bulkhead and some alluring cliffs to wow you with. By all means cruise into the famous cove for an afternoon, but if you love your beaches, don’t miss the facility packed shorelines Zante has to offer. As you’d expect, the best beaches in Zante come with watersports, beach bars and plenty of sun loungers. But some come with fjords to explore and more than a few turtle nests too…
To explore Shipwreck Cove
What do Shipwreck Beach, Shipwreck Cove, Smugglers Cove and Navagio Beach all have in common? They are, of course, all the same stretch of sand. Famous for being one of the best beaches in Zante, Shipwreck Beach has become the island’s poster-child for castaway moments on its beautiful shores. And, yes, the whopping, rust-addled, smuggler’s ship that lays marooned in the inlet is intriguing, photogenic and … popular. Which, for some, downgrades Shipwreck Cove from a must see to a maybe. Here’s some inside intel to help you decide whether to swerve or swim to this stunning shore.
How to get to Shipwreck Beach
Most people will tell you the beach itself is only accessible by boat. All true, and many, many tour operators will pop you on a cruiser and get you to the inlet. Once you’re in the vicinity, some boats don’t have the hulls needed to beach on the sands. Which means you’ll be swimming ashore against an occasionally choppy ocean. So, if it’s just a photo you’re after, you may well be better off driving up the cliffs above the beach to capture the iconic shot of the wreck yourself. If you do make the trip, the best routes leave from Porto Vromi.
Shipwreck Beach facilities
There are zero facilities on this beach. Which means, other than the crumbling Panagiotis, you’ve just got the huge cliff faces and the sweep of sand to occupy you. Whether you nip in on your own motorboat, or get dropped off on a tour, you’ll need swim shoes, sun screen, snacks and water – just for starters.
For potentially healing waters
The eggy waft that drifts on the breeze at Xigia Beach might deter you from visiting – or hanging around for too long. But, there’s a very good reason to stay. The minerals that turn the island’s clear blue ocean into a milky haze here are said to hold healing powers. Think of a dip at this beach as a free spa session and the niff in the nostrils suddenly seems a little less offensive. The actual beach at Xigia is tiny – so drop by early if you want to secure a spot. Though, because of the sulphur – this beach isn’t one you’d usually want to settle down on for too long.
To snorkel over sea grass meadows
The relatively quiet shores of Kalamaki Beach hide an underwater secret: sea grass meadows. Stunning to snorkel over – and protected inside the island’s National Marine Park, these warm waters are also favoured by Zante’s turtles. There’s just one bit of noise pollution that you can’t escape. Kalamaki sits just south of Zakynthos airport. Which is ideal for stunning snaps of jet engines as you lay on the sands. Not ideal if you’re in the market for an idyllic afternoon of blissful peace on your beach towel. Whether the beauty of the wafting strands of seagrass on the sea bed – and the potential to snorkel alongside a turtle or two, is adequate compensation for the nearby runway? That’s for you to decide.
For convenient facilities
Banana Beach is a strong contender for our ‘all-rounder’ title. And, really, the only thing that stops it earning the most coveted of beach titles? It does occasionally come with a party atmosphere. That’s not to say families won’t feel welcome here – but if you’re looking for a quiet beach, Banana isn’t the one. What is does have, is facilities by the bucket and spadeful. Beach bars, restaurants and watersports options line the huge stretch of sand to bring just about everything you’d need for a day on the sands. The cocktails and shade-dappled oasis of Banana Baya adds a little luxe life to your beach vibe along with their cabanas, umbrellas and loungers.
To tiptoe between turtle nests
One of the first things you’ll notice at Gerakas Beach – apart from the rolling dunes, and gorgeous green cliff tops – are the curious wooden frames dotted along the shoreline. Placed there by beach rangers, the rustic contraptions are to stop you inadvertently stomping over the precious turtle nest locations. Loggerhead turtles use this beach as a nesting site – and the frames help both turtles and sunbathers share the sands in an eco-friendly way. Wander the shoreline and count the nests, swim in the warm shallow waters and keep your eyes peeled for hatchlings emerging from the sand.
Orbzii tip: The beach is closed after 8pm until around 7am to allow the hatchlings – and nesting adults to come ashore – or swim to safety.
For ideal windsurfing conditions
Zante’s beaches practically demand you do little but laze the days away listening to waves lap the shore – or enjoy a mix playing from a nearby beach party. But for those who like a little ocean-based adrenaline rush, Tsilivi serves up some exceptional windsurfing weather. In the mornings, prevailing winds rarely rustle up anything to unnerve newbies and Zante Windsurf are the folks to get you on the water. After 3pm? The breezes pick up and the windsurfers with a little more experience take to the waves. Watch for tips as they zip over the ocean or get on your board and join them, if you’ve got the know-how.
To swim in a fjord
So far, our run down of the best beaches in Zante has served up golden sands, gorgeous views and shallow swimming spots. Time for something a little different then. This time, we’re pointing you – and your hire car towards Porto Steniti on the west coast. This place is a little tricky to get to – and there’s no beach as such when you get there. What you will find, is a deep fjord, with crystal blue waters, that leads into a craggy inlet on a remote and quiet part of the island. If you fancy the swim – without the headache of parking the car, one of the best things to do in Zante is hire a boat for the day. Putter up the coast, drop anchor and enjoy this idyllic slice of the island.
You’ll find the family-friendly sands of Alykes Beach on the north coast of Zante. Shallow, warm waters are the ideal spot for safe swimming – or a paddle for tiny toes taking their first steps into the water. Facilities here fall into the ‘Goldilocks’ bracket of just enough. A few shops and a handful of cafe/restaurants keep you on the sands all day, without making the beach feel overcrowded and busy. Handy parking makes it easy to drive up and be on the beach in minutes and a nearby harbour adds in the option for an afternoon boat trip. Watersports provide a spectator sport for those adamant they want to stay glued to their beach towel, or high speed fun for adventure on the ocean. For a change of scene, the nearby salt flats are the place to look out for Zante’s wildlife.