Off the beaten path Greek Island of Zakynthos
Zakynthos Island, home of gorgeous views, Blue Caves and the amazing secluded, Shipwreck beach – but to the locals it’s Navaigo Beach. During the summer months, Zakynthos is the place to be and heavily populated by UK Students. However, when we visited the only flight was leaving Athens at 5:25 AM, turns out it is 100% off season for tourists. I had heard that the Greek Islands “Close down” in the off season months, but I didn’t really believe it. It felt like we had the island to ourselves when we were there. It felt like we received a true Greek experience.
Local Zakynthos feels
We stayed in a villa that we had arranged through AirBnB (also available on hostelworld.com) called Villa Spiros. After paying a quick 17 Euros for a 10 minute taxi ride, we arrived. Villa Spiros is located at the south part of the island in a village called Laganas. As we had soon learned, Laganas is a resort village/town.
We had arrived at 6:30am so after a brief nap we went to explore our surroundings. As we walked down the Main Street in Laganas, every shop had grates covering their windows and doors. Even the Subway and Mcdonalds were closed up! The only places we had found open on this gorgeous, gorgeous April morning was a 24 hour juice bar/stand, an express mini market and lucky for us a burger joint called BJ’s that had just opened. There were also many owners were out doing renovations to their shops and clubs saying hello as we walked by.
Being lazy is okay… sometimes
Due to the early morning, we were feeling a bit of jet lag… or just early morning blues. After a few walks, we had some more naps and just took the day to relax. It was 22 degrees Celsius so I preferred to sit on our little balcony reading (finally!). That night we had arranged with the owner of the villa to go for a drive up to Shipwreck viewpoint for the next day.
We had also arranged to have dinner at a local Taverna. The owner of the tavern picked us up from Villa Spiros and drove us to his taverna called Dennis Taverna. Along the drive, he also told us about some of the struggles they were having on the island & some information on their Greek island culture. It had amazing decor and atmosphere for a nice little dinner for the two of us. It was around 9pm when we requested a ride back to the villa, we were exhausted okay?! On our way back we found out that Greeks often don’t start their dinner meals until 9pm. Yep, we are tourists – can you tell?!
Off Season isn’t so bad!
Unfortunately, due to it being off season, a lot of the tours were closed or based out of the main town called Zakynthos town, or also known as Zante town. We opted to pay the bit extra to have a private, local experience with the villa owner, Antonio, and his daughter Denia.
I don’t think we could have made a better decision. Although we were travelling on a budget, this experience was better than we could have asked for. After a nice coffee and breakfast in the morning, provided by Antonio, we were off to Navagio Beach viewpoint. Denia and Antonio taught us a lot about the Greek culture and little things about their home of Zakynthos.
After spending a long amount of time in the sun at the viewpoint, Antonio and Denia took us to another local Taverna. When we arrived, they were greeted very warmly from the owner. This is where they showed us how to eat like the Greeks! Lots of wine, lots of little dishes to share and even a dessert following the humongous meal. They thing about this tavern, is that the owner has his own farm where he feels the animals, grows the vegetables and that’s where he gets most of the products for the restaurant to feed the guests.
Zakynthos should be on everyone’s bucket list
I am so grateful to have had the chance to experience Zakynthos in low season to get the local feel compared to the super tourist feel where you are fighting crowds. I would say it’s a similar feel to Hawaii and should be visited by anyone travelling to Greece and are looking for a local feel. One day I hope to visit Zakynthos again and bring our friend to share the authentic experience!
Check out our experience in Athens