I originally wanted to go to Zakynthos to see Shipwreck Beach and wasn’t sure what else was there (when you google it or look it up few things except Shipwreck Beach come up since its so popular!) so I guess I didn’t have crazy expectations and was blowwwn away by how amazing it is there!! So many amazing beaches and the whole island has all of these awesome caves. We thought we would share details of our stay in Zakynthos and answer the FAQ we get on insta and comments so here is everything we did!
Where we stayed
We stayed at another amazing villa in Zakynthos that we found on HomeAway.com. (You can find the exact listing here.) Villa Armos is the hills on the east side of the island with a beautiful view of Ionian sea. It has 3 rooms (sleeps 6), 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, and the best part is, it has a pool and a hot tub! Once again it was nice to have our own space, which is what I love about HomeAway. And this one was big! The grounds were beautiful and spread out and although it was a bit of a drive, it was well worth it because of the view and amenities in the villa. We had such a good experience there like we did in all our HomeAway rentals. Once the owner found out that we were traveling with a baby, he went out and got a crib for us.
How we got around
Zakynthos is a lot different than Santorini. It’s a much bigger island and pretty spread out. Fortunately, from the southern most tip to the northern most tip, it’s only about an hour and a half drive, which is great for day trips and sight seeing, but it’s big enough to where you need to plan out how to get from A to B. Many of the streets are a larger than the tiny pot hole filled streets of Santorini. So we rented a big 7 seater van, and it was the right move. I would definitely recommend it. We alway rent with Avis because they always have great rates. We love Avis Preferred because it’s great to skip the lines at airports, especially when traveling with a baby. If you don’t want to get a car, then be careful where you end up staying because things are spread out. There are taxis and buses across the island, but if you plan to see the sights, they will start to add up. The freedom of a rental car is so nice. Our Villa was 45 minutes away from the airport and 20 minutes away from Alykes, the closest larger town with grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies and ATMs. Like in Santorini, the villa manager met us at the airport and escorted us back which was nice because we got there late. Overall it was a great location because it was central enough to be able to get to most of the sights easily and quickly by car.
What we did
If you saw my instagrams from Zakynthos you probably saw Navagio (Shipwreck) beach. It honestly is indescribable. The water is so unbelievably blue. Not like Hawaii aqua/clear, but blue! This was something that was on my bucket list and it didn’t disappoint! With pinterest and photoshop now days, sometimes you’ll see a photo and when you see the place in real life, it is a let down because people edit pictures so heavily, but photos can’t do this place justice (photos dont even need to be edited!). It’s just one of those places you have to see. The beach is only accessible by boat, or I guess by base jumping if you’re crazy, but the overlook was only about a 15 minute drive from our Villa. You can drive right up (you will see a bunch of signs for Navagio Beach Lookout!), park, and walk to the edge where there is a rail and place to check out the view. You can also walk the ridge for even better views. From there, it is about a 20 minute drive south to Porto Vromi where water taxis make trips every hour to the beach. They drop you off and pick you up an hour later, but if you ask them and there is a boat scheduled to come later, you can extend your stay and get on a later boat. We stayed for about 3 hours, swam around the coves, hung out at the beach and took pictures by the shipwreck. Bring water and food, because when you’re there all you have is what you bring. On the way back they take you on a tour through a lot of the caves on that side of the island. The boat drives right up in them. The water is so pretty, and the boat captains stop to let you jump out and swim around the caves. The whole thing is only 15 Euros per person so it’s a great deal.
We went to Makris Gialos Beach a couple times because it was the perfect little beach and only 10 minutes from our Villa. There are caves on the north side of the beach, a little bit of a swim but worth it and nearby restaurants. If you don’t want to drive to Porto Vromi, there are boat tour for caves and shipwreck beach right there at Makris Gialos.
There are cruises that go around the entire island. In Alykes on the main street there is a strip of boat tour companies advertising various cruises. We almost went on one that looked so fun. It is a cruise around the entire island on a pirate ship. They have a restaurant and bar, live performances, stop at all the coves and best beaches and it’s only 25 Euros a person with an extra discount for large groups. We would have done it but it was 8 hours long, a little too long for a baby:)
At night, most of the time we just hung around the Villa. We had a beautiful view and great place so it was fun to just relax, play games and talk in the hot tub which was such a plus to have.
Where we ate
We were referred by the villa manager to the Old Windmill Restaurant in Askos about 10 minutes away. Like most greek restaurants they had traditional Greek cuisine, pastas, seafood, and freshly squeezed orange juice:) Half way to Navagio beach there are great fresh fruit stands where we got big watermelon and fruit for breakfast. On that road there are so many traditional greek restaurants and grills. We also ate at Makris Gialos beach a few times because they had great restaurants and are right by the beach which was convenient. Taverna Pilarinos was on a cliffside overlooking the beach with an incredible view, and the bar/grill was right across the street from the water. We went to the beach at Agios Nikolaus which we didn’t love, mainly because there were so many prettier ones, but it a lot of great restaurants, grills, bars and markets. Even though the beach wasn’t the best, it was nice to have a change of scenery. We ate at La Grotta right over the water. The menus of most of the restaurants are pretty similar. Traditional Greek cuisine, grill items and pasta. We went at a really great time because it was just the end of low season, so most of the restaurants (we kept commenting on how many restaurants there were!) and beaches were empty. Once again, we had a full kitchen, and it was stocked! (It really was such a great deal of a villa and so affordable, especially if you plan to split it amongst multiple couple or families) We arrived to fresh fruit, juice, cheeses, meats, eggs and more. With all that and a trip to the grocery store we had more than enough for an amazing pizza night. David made dough from scratch and we all took turns rolling out dough with jars as the boys made a fire in the pizza oven they had in the courtyard. It was one of those nights that we’ll always remember.