Recently, National Geographic Nederland-België listed Zakynthos’ Navagio beach as one of the top 5 most beautiful beaches in the world. In fact, the first edition of the Sunflower Complete Guide for Zakynthos had an image of the shipwreck beach on the title page, it is a stunning view. If you wish to visit the beach, it can only be accessed by boat – such as an all day boat tour around the island, or if you follow one of the Sunflower ³car tour² 3 or 4 you could stop off at Skinari and take a boat trip along the north coast of the island to the shipwreck beach. It is in fact stony, so be certain to wear good shoes! If you take the boat trip from Skinari, you will also have the opportunity to visit the stunning Blue Caves.
Zakynthos has many beautiful swim spots off beaches with different types of sand, or off stunning cliffs, with the Sunflower Guide for Zakynthos describing almost every swim-spot on the island. Of note, the most amazing swim spots on the north to west coast of Zakynthos are at Limnionas (near Walk 17), with beautiful blue caves set in white limestone sea cliffs lined with green pines, and Korakonisi (Walk 16). There is now a tarmac road leading down to Korakonisi Islet; however, it is still one of the most isolated swim spots on the island. The islet has an amazing arch from which you can dive, with deep cool waters to swim in.
The south coast of the island (Laganas Bay) is a combination of white sands from limestone (Marathonisi) to beautiful golden sands. Most of the beaches in Laganas Bay are used for nesting by loggerhead sea turtles, or Caretta caretta. Therefore, please be respectful and (1) sit within 5 metres of the sea to avoid damaging any nests which are usually placed above 5 metres; some nests are caged, but many are unprotected, so always be careful, and (2) do not visit these beaches at night, it is against the law, and you risk disturbing nesting loggerheads, which are internationally endangered. Do not be deterred by the golden sandy beach extending from Agios Sostis (Walk 8) to Laganas and beyond to Kalamaki (Walk 7) and Vrondonero (Walk 6) due to large numbers of tourists; if you are willing to walk along the mid section of beach backed by dunes, you will escape the hoards – and be certain to look out for the beautiful sea daffodil, which is white and heavily scented. This is one of the few wild plants to flower in mid-summer, and only grows on natural shifting sand dune systems (an important and protected habitat type in Europe) – so take pictures, but leave the flowers in their native habitat! Further along is the beach of Sekania (walk 4 to viewpoints above the beach) to which all access is prohibited, except for research, as this beach has the greatest number of turtles nesting each year. Be certain to visit the Sea Turtle Exhibition (start of walk 3) to learn more about the sea turtles and other wildlife and habitats of Zakynthos. Daphni and Gerakas (walks 1 and 2) are the final 2 beaches of this bay. Daphni is fronted by amazing rocky reefs teaming with marine life, including sea turtles! Gerakas is famous for its amazing clay cliff formation, and worth visiting.
The east to north coast of the island is lined with many golden sandy beaches, which become white sand beaches as the lowlands meet the mountains. Along this coast, you will find crowded beaches, beaches with watersports, and quiet beaches known only to locals or the adventurous tourist. One of my favourite beaches along this coast is Ksigia, not the easy to access beach to the north of the restaurant (called Ksigia) but the one set to the south of the beach. Be warned, there are sulphur upwellings and it can be smelly! The upper part of this coast is lined with multiple sea caves worth exploring. However, keep your eyes open for the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal (one of the top 10 most endangered wildlife species in the world); about 10 to 20 individuals inhabit the sea caves of the northern part of the Island (east to west coast). These animals grow up to 3 metres long, and are wild animals, so maintain a safe distance.
If you are uncertain of which beaches to visit, take one of the car tours in the Sunflower Complete Guide for Zakynthos, and follow the many roads or tracks leading to the coast, some will reward you with stunning views, others with beautiful locations to picnic and swim before continuing your exploration of this unique island.