Destinations Finding the heart of the Ionian jewel, Zakynthos

03/23 2023


Melissa Gidney Daly


Melissa Gidney Daly

Widely known for its beaches, nightlife and sea turtles, we sought to explore the lesser known side of Zakynthos. At the time, we didn’t necessarily know what that was per se, but by the end of our 5 nights, I believe we had begun to scrape the surface. Even though the Airbnb I booked described itself as ‘remote’, I had no idea just how remote it would be. After arriving from the mainland on a ferry, we began winding our way up and over to the west side of the island, passing small villages, herds of goats along the road, and countless tiny olive oil stands. All this gave way to a dramatic landscape of white rock and scrub brush that plunged into the turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea.

For the first couple days, we enjoyed some slow days around our Airbnb. A stairway carved into the stone wound down the side of the cliff to a private swimming platform. Most of the swimming areas on the west coast are rocky boat launches or swim clubs, so we savored our own private access.

Coincidentally, the owner of the airbnb also worked for a boat company, and we arranged for a tour of blue caves. Although it felt a bit touristy as we were booking it, the series of spectacular blue caves, the striking turquoise waters and the limestone cliffs were like nothing we had seen before.

Focusing on the west and north side of the island allowed us to get a feel for the wilder, less developed side. Next time, we’ll make more of an effort to visit some of the historical sites, hilltop villages, wineries and white sandy beaches.