Zakynthos. Zakynthos, what a lovely island! Its green nature, the beautiful clear blue sea with steep rock formations, the amazing sandy beaches, the old villages, the Blue Caves, the ship wreck, the impressive Caretta-Caretta sea turtles.
Zakynthos is located in the south of the Ionian Sea and is also called "Zante", a name given to it by the Romans and Venetians, once they for centuries occupied the island. They called the island also "Il Fioro di Levante", meaning "flower of the East". Levante is also called the wind that blows in summer from the east and which cools the places on the East Coast.
Zakynthos is the name of the son of Dardanus which "Zakynthos" name. Dardanus was the king of Troy, and he's the first who built the city on the island, according to the myth. Others claim that the name is derived from the flower "Yakinthos" which is common in Zakynthos. According to Homer, the island belonged to the kingdom of Odysseus. Homer called the island "Iliessa" which means forest.
One of the main attractions of Zakynthos are the "Blue Caves". From Aghios Nikolaos, the most northeastern fishing town of Zakynthos, you can sail with boats to the Blue Caves. You can litterally here, take a dip in the blue water. Your skin tone colors during this dive really blue! This is of course an optical illusion and disappears when you come out of the water.
The Shipwreck of Zakynthos, the wreck on Navagio Beach is one of the most photographed spots in Greece. Of course, we too, wanted to see this phenomenon from close distances.. The ship wreck came in 1980, in the northwest of the island, to the ground. When you visit the ship wreck nowadays, you will discover that unfortunately, the boat is in very poor condition.
When you approach the beach from the mountains, you can take beautiful pictures of the beach and the wreck, there is a viewpoint about 250 meters above the water where you can take pictures. The sea is beautiful clear and turquoise in color. From here above, it is spectacular and breath-taking to see. That’s why this beach is so popular and printed on many cards and calendars.
There are many beautiful beaches on Zakynthos, which are the most popular?
Zakynthos town, is the capital of the island. The locals call the town ‘Chora’, as often a capital is called on Greek islands. The city was in 1953 almost ruined by a severe earthquake. Now it is a modern town with many buildings in classical style. There are streets with arcades, churches with imposing bell towers, beautiful squares and major monuments. The port of island Zakynthos is also located in this town, from here there is direct connection to Peloponnese (Kylini).
The bay of Laganas is one of the most important places in the world where the Caretta-Caretta turtles lay their eggs. I was very curious about this turtle and hoped to "watching" these impressive animals, but in a responsible way, where the animals would not bother us. Thus we got in Agios Sostis aboard the ecological turtles trip Nefis Travel, the "ECO Turtles excursion."
The Dutch Jackie Boots-Gklavas of Nefis-Travel, which for years lives on Zakynthos with her Greek husband, organizes turtle-friendly trips and also gives the volunteers of the turtle protection an opportunity to raise awareness about these animals.
On board the boat, which is part of the Marine Park, we met volunteers from the Greek Archelon, the organization for the protection of this endangered species. The volunteers gave presentations about their important work in the "National Marine Park" on Zakynthos.
I was wondering if the promised turtles today really would show up. What makes the Loggerhead Turtles so special? The size of the Caretta-Caretta is impressive, they are as an adult, one meter long. The turtles lived, long before the prehistoric in the Mediterranean. Sixty percent of these turtles are born in Greece, from those 40 percent is born on Zakynthos.
Every summer, from mid-May to late August, hundreds of female turtles come to lay their eggs. The weird thing about the story is that all these females come back to where they were born about 26 years earlier, to lay the eggs! That's something that you as human, cannot understand. How do they know so exactly where they were born, because they swim all over the world out. Each female turtle goes on a night back and lays about one hundred twenty eggs.
These eggs are the turtles buried in the sand where they lie sixty days, under the warmth of the sun before they hatch. The mother turtle does not interfere more with the eggs, but is recovering from the heavy task and gather forces, after a few weeks once more to lay a charge eggs.
After sixty days, the small turtles come out from their eggs, they crawl to the sea to embark on the great adventure of life. These little turtles should now try for themselves to survive, they have to crawl to the sea themselves. This is crucial, because they train so their muscles and lungs that now begin to work.
Someone who thinks of helping by bringing the turtle itself to the sea, doesn’t help at all, in contrary, he helps the little ones die earlier.
When the turtles are very ou young, they cannot see well but they have their own "navigation" confidence in order to reach the sea. They go towards the light that is reflected from the moon and the stars in the sea. The natural enemy of the Caretta-Caretta is also unfortunately the human being with their light cities and disco lights on beaches, which hit the young turtles course so they can’t reach the sea.
Speed boats and fishing nets are unfortunately a cause of many deaths among the Caretta-Caretta turtles. Of the thousand eggs hatched, there is only one turtle back after 26 years to lay eggs, most others are in their first three years of life not saved, because they are the most vulnerable, their shield is still not cured.
Fortunately, more and more is done to protect these unique and beautiful animals.
Before we left, the first Caretta-Caretta presented itself already. It appeared to be a female, which is reflected in the small tail coming out from under the shield. A male has a longer tail.
The great lady showed her beautiful head look equally loud enthusiasm of the passengers on the boat. Moments later, we spot another adult turtle and also to let admire well.
All in all a fantastic experience and an absolute must to experience the VIP ECO turtle-spotting trip of Nefis Travel Zakynthos!