Zakinthos, nee Zante, Our Last Ionian Island
04 October 2017 | Katakolon - 6,504 NM
Sunny with a Few Clouds
From Ay Efimia, we hopped a short distance south to Poros where we sat around all day waiting for the forecast storm - it eventually arrived after we went to bed which in some ways is good but it meant we had a very bumpy motor sail with the wind following us to Zakinthos town the following morning. First impressions were good and we weren't disappointed as we explored. The town was destroyed in an earthquake in 1953 and so it doesn't have the quaint old town we've come to expect but the rebuilding was very pleasant and nicely done. The church of Agios Dionysios is probably the most impressive Greek Orthodox Church we've seen with every wall and ceiling elaborately painted and with a huge gold screen at the front.
We found a really good market - a first in Greece - and had fun buying some fruit and veg in the morning. We stopped for coffee on the way back and had a lovely view of Freya from the other side of the bay. We could see that our neighbour was leaving but then they seemed to stop in front of Freya. We began to realise he had a problem and that he had probably picked up our anchor while trying to pull his own in. We had been a bit concerned when we moored as his was clearly laid at a bit of an angle. Coffee finished we hurried back to find him gone and our anchor chain very loose and doing not a lot! Luckily we had a lot of chain out and so we pulled it in hoping it would dig in again before it all came up and we had to reset it with the dinghy - phew, it finally did!
The hill up to the Venetian fort looked a bit steep and so we took a taxi! The views over Zakinthos were stunning but although only 14:30 the fort was closed for the day! We had a lovely walk around the hill and back down to town though, finishing with an ice cream by the sea.
We needed to explore the island and so hired a car - loose description as what arrived was a very rattly, battered Kia but it was cheap and we didn't need to worry about scratching it which was just as well given some of the "roads" we found. Our first stop was down the Vasilikos peninsula and the turtle beaches which were beautiful. There were lots of turtle nests clearly protected by cages but no turtles. The babies would hatch at night but then all the beaches were out of bounds! We followed the bay around the horrendous holiday spot of Laganas to Keri where we had lunch on a white cliff top with stunning views over the rocks and turquoise sea. The drive over the mountain was lovely but didn't offer the views we expected. We stopped at the very pretty Vromi Bay on our way to the lookout over Shipwreck Bay - again stunning views over the sea but not sure what all the fuss over the rusting old ship on the beach is - it was probably the most crowded beach on Zakinthos with all the tripper boats! Our final stop was Ay Nikolaos again very pretty. It was a long day and Zakinthos is definitely a very pretty island but I don't think we were blown away.
We decided to keep the car another day and have a day on the beach. Our favourite spot the day before had been the turtle beaches where there were tavernas (but nothing else) on the beach offering free sun beds. We stayed all day enjoying the best food we've had on Zakinthos for lunch, reading and swimming - even Paul - a lovely relaxing day.
The swell in the harbour had kept us awake most of the night and so our next stop was supposed to be the mainland but as we were leaving we decided the direction of the swell wasn't going to reach the pretty anchorage at Keri and so we had a change of plan on route. As we rounded the point the swell changed direction and we were very dubious but thought now we're this far, we have to give it a go........ We anchored, had lunch and then launched the dinghy for its longest trip ever - to the blue caves 1.5 miles away. There are lots of blue caves around Zakinthos with lots (and lots) of tripper boats visiting but we thought it would be more fun to do it our way. Our old outboard made lots of strange noises on the way but made it to the caves on turtle island where we switched it off and paddled in. The noise of the sea inside and the swell was a bit scary but very dramatic. We sat on the tiny beach next door before the trip back to Freya. Thankfully the swell disappeared and we had a very peaceful night at anchor - our last night on Zakinthos.....
The link to our map seems to be stopping people leaving comments on the blog, so I've removed it from these posts for now. I will be keeping it up to date so simply go to one of the special map only posts and click the link there to see it