Zakynthos (Greek: Ζάκυνθος), the third largest of the Ionian Islands, covers an area of 410 km2 (158 sqmi) and its coastline has roughly 123 km length (76 mi). The island is named after Zakynthos, the son of a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus. The name, like all similar names ending in -nthos, is pre-Mycenaean or Pelasgian in origin.
Zakynthos with its thriving tourism industry, can offer amazing sailing moments, and in order to capture them you will need the best yachts that can take you there… ours.
Sailing Holidays in Zakynthos
Zakynthos (Italian: Zante), besides Kythira, the southernmost island of the Ionian Islands, lies off the west coast of the Peloponnese. The western half of the island is occupied by a karstic plateau rising to 758 m, and the eastern half is occupied by a fertile and intensively cultivated alluvial plain with a luxuriant growth of vegetation. With its beautiful scenery and excellent bathing beaches making it the perfect setting for sailing, Zakynthos is very popular among yacht charterers and tourists in general. The big harbor of Zakynthos has a marina on the side of the jetty, where you can find any supply you might need for yourselves or your yacht. Sailing around the island, you will find many beaches to inspect, including the world-famous Navagio beach (Shipwreck Bay), a good anchorage with sandy bottom. The equally renowned Blue Caves are only accessible by boat, and in order to visit them, you should anchor in Agios Nikolaos bay and go there with your tender, tying to a small quay. In this area there are chilly underwater springs, ideal to dive in and explore the seabed. As you sail, watch out for the rare loggerhead turtles, “Caretta caretta”, heading mainly towards the southern beaches of Zakynthos, Laganas in particular, to lay their eggs.
History of Zakynthos
Since the time of Homer, the island has been known by the name it still bears, said to derived from the wild hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis L.). Achaeans and Arcadians settled there since then, and soon developed the island into a center of trade and seafaring, whose influence extended as far as the Iberian Peninsula, when they founded the colony of Zakantha, later known as Saguntum.
Zakynthos was occupied by the Turks in 1479, but recovered two years later by the Venetians, who held it until 1797. The island has preserved an Italian and Venetian stamp, yet its eventful history and the major earthquakes of 1515 and 1953 destroyed most old buildings. Adding to these earthquakes, in 2018 there was a cliff collapse in the beach of Navagio (Shipwreck beach).
Ports and Local Amenities
The port of Zakynthos provides good shelter from the prevailing north-west winds, though, with a strong southerly, it is better to anchor in the south-west.
You should be careful in order to avoid the little reef (marked by a red buoy) just east of the entrance of the harbour. You should also note that there are few unlit mooring buoys towards the south-east of the harbour. The proposed marina is still not finished.
The Vromi bay is a deep inlet and the only anchorage on the west side of the island. In north-west or west winds, it provides good shelter, but you should still be aware of katabatic gusts.
Above the town, there are the remains of a Venetian Castle, which is believed to have collapsed in the 1515 earthquake.
The most beautiful beach of Zakynthos, one of the five or six most photographed beaches of all Greece, is called Navagio (Shipwreck beach), and is accessible only by sea, giving you the idea of hugeness and perfection. However you should be careful while getting closer, or attempting to anchor there, since there was a cliff colapse in September of 2018.
You can use your own boat and sail towards the Blue Caves. They consist of particular geologic formations giving life to a succession of caves along the North-West coast of the island, starting soon after Agios Nikolaos to end near Skinari Cape.