The jewel of the Ionian Sea, Zakynthos (or more commonly known as Zante), is the ultimate travel brochure image. From its stunning Venetian architecture to its mesmerizingly clear waters, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Offering a little something for everyone, whether you’re a hardcore clubber, a lounge on the beach type or a keen explorer, Zante has you covered. But an area where it pulls out all the stops is its snorkel opportunities.
So, whether you just like a casual snorkel or you’re on a mission to find the best snorkel spots the world has to offer, Zante should definitely be on your list. But with so much choice, where do you even begin? Well, join us as we run through the top 7 spots in Zante worthy of a little underwater exploration.
Marathonisi Turtle Island
Just the name alone should be enough to get you heading out that way. But don’t worry, this is not a case of false advertising – if turtles are what you’re after, turtles are definitely what you’ll get here. This islet is part of the famous Laganas Bay in the southern part of Zante. With its characteristic turtle shape, it is a breeding ground for the endangered Caretta Caretta (loggerhead sea turtles).
Accessible only by boat, this area has two beaches, one sandy and one rocky, but be aware there are growing numbers of tourists wanting to sneak a peek at the turtles, so pick your visiting time wisely (you might want to be a morning person on this trip).
And once you’re ready to head into the dazzling turquoise waters, there is exploration opportunities a plenty. Starting out small, you can swim around the beach itself and when you’re ready for more adventure, caves are waiting for you on the other side of the turtle’s head. The rich marine life and incredibly clear waters here make this a favorite to add to that Zante itinerary.
Plus, after you’re done exploring, there is a floating ‘boat bar’ ready to serve you up that much needed refreshment.
Agios Sostis Beach
Roughly a 20-minute drive from Zakynthos Town, this peaceful beach is a must for those wishing to escape the tourist hubs. This narrow beach boasts smooth golden sand and calm waters. And with colorful coral reefs and even more colorful fish, you can be sure to find a fair amount of underwater discoveries to quench your snorkeling thirst.
From here you can also take a pedestrianized wooden bridge across to Cameo Island, which is known as one of the best places in Europe for swimming with turtles. Loggerhead sea turtles are found all around this island, so your chances of having a turtle meet and greet here are pretty high.
And with plenty of tavernas back at Agios Sostis Beach, you won’t have to wait long to get a good meal after your fruitful swim in the sea.
Porto Limnionas Beach
With its gleaming turquoise waters, this relatively hidden gem at the end of a long winding road should not be missed. Encompassing a variety of caves and well-sculpted rock formations, Porto Limnionas has much to explore for the snorkeling enthusiast.
This beauty spot is located close to the traditional countryside village of Agios Leon in the west of the island. Although, technically not a beach (unlike the name suggests), this rocky sea pool is still every bit as worthwhile visiting as any of the most famous beaches in Zante.
However, be warned the walk down is pretty steep, so expect an even more exhausting walk back up. But if you have the energy, you will be rewarded with spectacular beauty for your efforts.
Known for its vast golden sands and warm crystal-clear water, Kalamaki Beach is just 6 kilometers from Zakynthos Town and forms part of the National Marine Park (the national park for the protection of sea turtles). Slightly further along from the more touristy Laganas Beach, Kalamaki offers a less crowded option.
Surrounded by lush greenery, this beach earns a spot on the list for several reasons, from its seagrass meadows to its beautiful reefs and plenty of turtle spotting opportunities. However, it is the lack of watersports here that make for one of the most calming swims.
Due to the strict protection of the sea turtles, water sports are prohibited, meaning you have the sea to yourself without having to worry about dodging any motoring annoyances. In fact, the protection of the turtles is taken so seriously here that hotels are not allowed to have windows facing the sea, as turtles don’t like the light. Yep, the turtles definitely get the VIP treatment down this way.
Snorkeling in Zante doesn’t get much better than this one. One of the most stunning spots on the island and only accessible by sea, the Blue Caves is a must on your snorkeling schedule. Taking its name from the reflection of the blue waters on their surface, a visit here is like entering a magical dreamland.
With tours starting from Makris Gialos Beach, Agios Nikolaos Port and Cape Skinari, there are plenty of chances to reach these stunning formations. And once there you’ll be no doubt itching to dive in. There are several caves to explore, with the biggest being Kianoun, where you can marvel at the chandelier-like stalactites hanging above.
So, if you are after something a little different from the beachside snorkel experience, this series of breathtaking geological formations can definitely provide. However, be aware that these are one of the most popular and in demand attractions, so picking quieter times is key if you are looking for a more peaceful atmosphere. Although in general, the best times to visit are morning or around sunset when the colors are at their most vibrant, so you may just have to brave the crowds if you want to experience the caves in their ultimate beauty.
Supposedly having the warmest sea of the island, making it a favorite for snorkeling in Zante, Dafni Beach is a gorgeous sandy stretch of paradise. It is also one of the prime nesting spots for the Caretta Caretta (if you haven’t had your fill of seeing these guys elsewhere).
Situated on the Vasilikos Peninsula, this might not be the easiest beach to get to, but it makes it even more worthwhile once you’re there. Having a long trail of bumpy dirt road, it is recommended to hire a well-equipped car if you’re planning a trip to this area.
However, this beach is a keen snorkeler’s dream, with plenty of rockpools and fascinating rock formations. It is also home to a rich variety of marine life and with clear, deep water, you can certainly spend a good amount of time enjoying the warmth.
Afterward, perhaps head up to the beach taverna, where they serve up a host of delicious fresh seafood dishes, for a post snorkel meal.
St. Nicholas Beach
With one side shrouded in lush greenery and the other side having a barren hill with a white Greek Orthodox church sitting atop, the contrast here makes for an interesting landscape.
However, it’s the clear, clean waters and abundance of fish that puts it at one of the top snorkeling spots on the island. Situated in the Vasilikos region, this spot is popular with tourists and locals alike, and for good reason. The golden sands and stunning scenery make it the perfect place to unwind under that scorching Greek sun (lathered in suntan lotion of course). And for when you need a little shade, there is a handy beach bar ready to serve you up a refreshing cocktail or a bite to eat.
And for the more adventurous types, there is a plethora of well-run watersports activities to choose from. Ever fancied riding the Ionian waves on a jet ski?
So, if a beach with variety, buzz, and plenty to keep you occupied is what you’re after, grab your snorkel and head on out to St. Nicholas.
Is Zante good for snorkeling?
With ample opportunities for snorkeling and the perfect location for spotting sea turtles, Zante is in contention for one of the best Greek islands for snorkeling. Although, dealing with strong competition from the likes of Crete (commonly thought to have the best snorkeling), it definitely puts up a strong fight. With warm waters, substantial fish spotting opportunities, caves, and alluring underwater landscapes, snorkeling in Zante is a must.
Can you swim with turtles in Zante?
Zante is filled with plentiful chances to swim with Turtles. The best spots for doing so are Cameo Island (one of the best places in Europe for swimming with turtles) and Laganas Bay. However, as with most animals, respect is key. Never disturb their nest areas and be mindful of their dislike of bright lights, so best to turn off the flash on your devices.