Zakynthos Shipwreck in Greece + 7 Must Visit Places

by Michael Gimm Holdensen

You’ve probably heard of the Greek Island Zakynthos before and surely also the Zakynthos Shipwreck on Navagio Beach? One of the Ionian Islands – famous for its beautiful white beaches and crystal clear waters. But did you know that the island offers more to tourists than just beautiful beaches with shipwrecks? 

Zakynthos, or Zákinthos, is the third-largest island in the Ionian Sea. It lies west of the Greek mainland, next to the Peloponnese, where we spent the winter and a big part of the spring in 2021/2022.

The island is approximately 410 km2 and is home to around 41,500 people, 13,000 who live in Zakynthos city. 

Unlike many other areas in Greece, the island was never under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and therefore reflects the Venetian era more than areas such as the Peloponnese do.

There have been several major earthquakes on the island in “recent” times. The most recent ones were in 1514, 1893 and 1953, causing great destruction. Most recently, in 1953, the city of Zakynthos in Greece was devastated but rebuilt.

Zakynthos weather in May is beautifulThere are plenty of things to see and do in Zakynthos. Whether you want to go diving in the turquoise water, relax on the beach, go on a boat trip or enjoy the gastronomy in a local restaurant. Or just want to see the Zakynthos Shipwreck and take some pictures :-D.

We had four days on the island before heading to Corfu, where we had planned Liva’s birthday – with a family paragliding tour. 

There was a great choice of hotels, but we chose one of the cheaper ones, central to the island so that we could drive around.

Zakynthos weather – When to visit?

Most people go on vacation and spend a week on Zakynthos in Greece during their summer holidays. But the island has a lot to offer at other periods too.

The end of May and throughout June and September is definitely a good time to go here on vacation.

We visited Zakynthos in Greece at the beginning of May, when the weather was already getting warm and hot (enough) to swim. Not too many tourists had arrived yet.

How to get to Zakynthos Greece

Ferry nearing the harbour of Zakynthos harbour.

How to get to Zakynthos in Greece?

Most travel agencies offer vacation packages with flights to the island, and most tourists arrive by plane. You land at the airport just outside Zakynthos city, on the island’s northeast coast. 

We chose to come here by ferry from the village of Killini in the Peloponnese. A tiny village where there is almost nothing but the port with connections to Zakynthos and Kefalonia, north of Zakynthos.

The ferry ride to Zakynthos is one hour and 15 minutes, and we paid 150 Euros for a return ticket that included all five of us and our car, which counts for a motorhome when you are sailing. We sailed on a ferry from Levante Ferries.

A good tip is to buy the ferry ticket directly from the ferry company’s website and not from one of the many other sites in a google search. This way, you can easily save 5-10% on your tickets.

What to do in Zakynthos Greece

Zakynthos Shipwreck on Navagio Beach.

Zakynthos attractions on your holiday

If you only have a week to spend on Zakynthos, you’ll need to prioritise the many things to do on the island. These are my picks for the best attractions on the island. I naturally also included the Zakynthos Shipwreck, even though I think a few other attractions were better.

  • Cameo Island
  • Sea Turtle Rescue
  • Gerakas Beach
  • Yannis Horses
  • Zakynthos Shipwreck – Navagio Beach

Cameo Island on Zakynthos

The small bridge towards the tiny island of Cameo.

Cameo Island Zakynthos

We found the place on Google and decided to go to the small island and see what it was all about. Access is over a small walkway from the mainland, and on the island, you get a nice view over the bay.

There is a small fee (for adults) to get in, but you get your picture taken from the “spot”, which is handed out in a small keychain. Emma and Liva got one each for their travel bag.
There is also a tiny beach where you can swim in the turquoise water. 

Zakynthos boat rental at Cameo Island

In Greece it does not require a license to rent a boat with less than 30 hp. You have to be 18 though…

Boat rental from the harbour at Cameo Island

If you feel like captaining a small motorboat for a day or just a few hours, you can rent one at the harbour area of Cameo Island. You can rent it on an hourly basis. We rented one for one hour and sailed around the bay.
Boats up to 30 hp do not require a licence in Greece.

Later in our trip, on both Corfu and Paxos, we sailed for a full day, swimming and snorkelling along the way in the blue waters.

Zakynthos Sea Turtle Rescue

A turtle feast! Lots of vegetables.

Zakynthos Turtles – Sea Turtle Rescue

On the southeastern tip of Zakynthos in Greece, there is a turtle centre called Zakynthos Sea Turtle Rescue & Information Center. We visited it as Liva, in particular, loves turtles.

It’s a nice little place where the biologists on site do what they can to ensure the turtles’ survival on the island. The turtles have many nesting sites that are often threatened by tourism.

You can see a variety of turtles in their aquariums, and we were lucky to see them feed. Some of the turtles were only the size of a matchbox. Super cute, as the girls say 😀

The centre is managed by Jonna Pedersen, a Dane who is the project manager of the site and the project.
It’s a charming place to go, especially with children.

Gerakas beach Zakynthos Greece

Gerakas Beach

After watching some turtles, we went to the beach, Gerakas Beach nearby. It is about 5 minutes walk from the turtle centre.

It is one of several lovely shallow sandy beaches on Zakynthos with clear blue water. To top the scenery, you have a background of beautiful cliffs.

Therefore, when you are done visiting the turtle centre, it is an obvious destination for those of us with children.

Yannis Horseriding on Zakynthos

The entrance to Yannis Horses. The farm is to the left a little further ahead.

A ride on horseback with Yannis’ horses

Our big girls love horses, and Carla had never tried riding before. So it made sense to try horse riding.

Yannis Horses is a family-owned horse farm with a lot of horses. They really know their stuff, and they were incredibly friendly and helpful. 

We only took a short ride as both Carla and I were new to horseback riding. But you can go for a longer ride and even go for a swim with the horses if you like.

zakynthos shipwreck history

Zakynthos shipwreck as it looks from the backside of the ship.

Zakynthos Shipwreck on Navagio Beach

Navagio Beach or Zakynthos Shipwreck Beach is one of the most famous attractions on Zakynthos in Greece. We met Americans who had come to Zakynthos just to see this. 

The ship has a similar history as the one we encountered on the east coast of the Peloponnese. It was also a smuggler ship before it washed ashore around 1980. Before that, it was built in 1937 in Scotland and named Saint Bedan.

The Zakynthos shipwreck is on Navagio Beach, and actually the name Navagio means Shipwreck in Greek. 

Navagio beach is a beach of white round stones that you can only get to by boat. Either by sailing yourself or through an arranged boat trip. The boat trip starts from Porto Vromi on the west side or the slightly larger Agios Nikolaos on the east side.

I think it’s a matter of opinion whether you take one route or the other, but you’ll see a couple of different things on the two trips towards Zakynthos Shipwreck beach.

Poseidons Face near Porto Vromi on Zakynthos

Look closely at the middle of the picture. A little to the right, you might see the nose and eye of Poseidon, pointing towards the sea.

Porto Vromi vs Agios Nikolaos

We booked the tour from Porto Vromi with GetYourGuide, which was great. We saw Zakynthos Shipwreck Beach, White Beach, a couple of blue caves and Poseidon’s Face and the Heart Caves during our trip.

At the Zakynthos Shipwreck on Navagio Beach, we swam and took pictures with all the other tourists for an hour. After that, we snorkelled a few places on the way back in completely crystal clear water.

If you choose the other route from Agios Nikolaos, you will pass by the Blue Caves, where you will also have the opportunity to snorkel. 

You can also go by yourself, but we were advised not to, as there are a lot of boats going to the small beach at the Zakynthos Shipwreck.

The beach is the most visited place on Zakynthos in Greece, and therefore we were happy to be here in May and not in July. But the beach is unique, and you have to experience it when you are here. 
It is so strange to see a big rusty ship in the middle of one of the most unique beaches on the island.

If you can’t handle all the people and the boat ride, there is also a lookout you can head to. You can park 200 metres away and walk. From that spot, you will see the Zakynthos Shipwreck and the surrounding cliffs.

What we missed but were recommended to do on Zakynthos

Time is always a limiting factor, and we also had to prioritise what we wanted to experience on Zakynthos. There were a few places we would also have liked to visit but missed. As well as an experience that we saw many others have on the island. You’ll get those right here, too.

Askos Stone Park on Zakynthos Greece

Image source: Greece.com

Askos Stone Park or The little farm

Two zoos at opposite ends of the island with various animals. An obvious visit with children if you have the time.

Tsilivi Water Park on Zakynthos

Image source: Tripadvisor.

Tsilivi Water Park

The only water park on the island is located in the middle of the island to the northeast. It should be a great outdoor water park, with lots of entertainment for the kids.

ATV rental

As we drove around by car, we met many people riding ATVs. They were all over the roads. I imagine it’s considerably more accessible and safer than driving around on a scooter.

We met a group of young people who had rented them for a whole week while they were there. This allowed them to ride both on the roads and in the more rough areas of Zakynthos.

Best beaches on Zakynthos Greece

Liva and Emma wrote “The Turtles are my Best Friends” with stones on Geraka Beach.

The best beaches in Zakynthos

We visited Navagio Beach, Gerakas Beach, Porto Vromi Beach and Agios Sostis Beach. But there are many more great beaches on the island. Either close to Zakynthos city but also other places on the island.

I’ve put the ones we liked on the map, so you can see if it is close to the hotel or apartment you are staying in. There are more suggestions for beaches on this page.

Are you going on holiday to Zakynthos in Greece?

There’s plenty to do, whether you’re here for a few days, a week or a bit longer. The island is fertile, has beautiful beaches, and has many restaurants. It is generally oriented towards tourism and there’s plenty on offer.

If you have more than a week, you could also consider visiting some of the other Ionian Islands, such as Corfu, Paxos and Antipaxos.

Zakynthos Map and Attractions

You can find our top spots on the map below. Just click on it and you will get the directions in Google maps.

Zakynthos – Maj 2022

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