The loggerhead turtles, or caretta caretta as they are known locally, have helped put Zante on the map. This idyllic island is their only nesting spot in the Mediterranean. The endangered turtles find refuge in the white and tranquil bays of many of the large resorts, and as a result you’ll find many areas protected with some, including Laganas, strictly prohibiting watersports. If riding a banana boat or jet-skiing into the sun set is on your to-do list, head to Alykes or St. Nicholas Beach for the best selection.
If you’d like to observe the reptiles in their natural habitat, you can hop aboard a turtle spotting cruise. Regular boat trips are available to the uninhabited island of Marathonisi, where the turtles have been visiting for millions of years. Here you can snorkel in the caves around the island for a chance to spot one underwater.
When visiting one of the larger resorts for your cheap holidays to Zante it may be tempting to stick with what you know and frequent the multitude of international restaurants on offer. But it’s well worth stepping out of your comfort zone and finding a traditional taverna serving Zakynthian cuisine made with fresh, organic, home grown ingredients.
A typical meal begins with a selection of hot and cold starters called mezedes. Served in the middle of the table, these include classics such as tzatziki, yoghurt sauce with cucumber and garlic, and melitzanosalata, which is made with aubergines. You’ll also find meatballs, zucchini, cheese pies and squid.
Traditional mains to look out for include stuffed chicken or rabbit, Skordostoumbi Melitzana a dish of aubergines in garlic sauce and beef ragout, slow-cooked beef in tomato sauce. Stuffed with well-cooked and seasoned meat, fries and tzatziki sauce, then wrapped in a delicious crispy pitta, no trip to Greece would be complete without sampling a souvlaki, one of the country’s most popular street foods.
Accompany your meal with plenty of Zakynthian wine or some ice cold Greek beer and finish with a shot of ouzo, an aniseed flavoured liquor, or Metaxa, another Greek liquor based on brandy.
Wild nights out in Laganas
Once a small fishing village, the wild resort of Laganas boasts some of the best nightlife on the island and is easily accessed from neighbouring resorts. Popular with a younger crowd, the brightly lit main strip referred to as The Golden Mile is adorned with every kind of venue you can imagine, from karaoke bars to live music venues.
Offering the largest night scene outside Athens, state of the art nightclubs like Rescue and Plus Club host international DJs throughout the summer and promise to have you dancing until the early hours of the morning. If you’re still going once the sun is up, down at the beach you’ll find early-morning after parties at the beachside bars.
Cruise to offshore coves and caves
The coast of Zante is adorned with hidden treasures accessible only by boat. Take a cruise to the famous Navagio Beach – also known as Shipwreck Bay or Smugglers Cove – where you’ll find an idyllic white sand bay with limestone cliffs towering above, featuring an old shipwreck. The viewing platform at the top of the cliffs guarantees you the perfect picture.
The Blue Caves are another popular attraction, with a series of sea caves and arches surrounded by stunning translucent waters. The tranquil water at Xingia Spa Beach is rich with sulphur and collagen, and a dip in the water here followed by some sunbathing on the beautiful sandy bay is sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated.
Day trips to the neighbouring island of Kefalonia depart daily from Zante. Visit the famous Myrthos Beach, the beautiful caves of Melisissani Lake, Drogerati Cave and stroll around the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos, guided by the friendly nuns who still reside here.
Don't ignore the mountains
Head to the mountain villages on your Zante holidays All Inclusive package and you’ll discover a totally different side to the island. Preserving the traditional Greek way of life, you’ll find locals producing honey, cheese, carpets, ceramics and lace, all of which make for unique souvenirs. There are plenty of places to eat, many with breathtaking views, and you’ll find traditional, Zakynthian food prepared by mothers and grandmothers, made with produce picked from gardens that morning.
Volimes, a community made up of three hill villages, has some of the best preserved buildings on the island. This village offers stunning views of both the beautiful mountain landscapes and panoramic vistas across the Ionian Sea.
Louha is one of the highest mountain villages on the island and is easily accessed from the beaches on the west coast. Here you’ll find Pelaponese architecture and a handful of tavernas renowned for their Greek cuisine and amazing views.