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Going to Zante doesn't just mean Laganas

29th June 2012

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The reason most students go to Zante (Zakynthos to the locals) is to hit the nightlife of Laganas. Yet just a few miles down the road is Kalamacki, which is just as good for a holiday.

Zante is the third largest of the Ionian Islands in Greece, and one of the most popular with tourists. Kalamaki is the nesting point for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle and has managed to maintain its relaxed atmosphere, despite the influx of tourists in the last 20 years or so.

Kalamaki has a large town with many restaurant and bars. One of the most popular is Stanni’s, a family run tavern located ten minutes walk from the main town and its restaurants. The extra travelling time is worth it however.

Kalamaki beach is the nesting site for the loggerhead turtle during the months of July and August; consequently water skiing is banned and no walking on the beach is allowed past 8pm. Rangers patrol the beach enforcing this rule. Before they get there, you can look out to the horizon and see if you can spot the heads of the aquatic creature peeping out through the waves. I was one of the unlucky ones (I didn’t see one) but many others have.

A positive about the airport is the proximity to Kalamaki and Laganas. As is it less than 10 minute drive  away, as you lie on the beach you can see planes so close up you feel like you can reach up and touch the wheels. Luckily air traffic is limited at nightfall, so you aren’t disturbed.

Zante is famous for its earthquakes, with five major quakes occurring in the last seventy years. The largest measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. This caused widespread building collapse with only the cathedral, church and national bank remaining standing. Ever since then everything built has to be earthquake proof, and subsequent tremors have proved the success of the new infrastructure. Wildfires are common on Zante too - whilst I was there, I could see the whole of the south side of the island on fire. 

Things to do in Kalamaki include scuba diving; the clear blue waters making it ideal for the amateur or the professional diver. Jellyfish, eels, octopuses and monk seals in the caves nearby have even been spotted. You can also hire a car and explore the rest of the island - a main road links all the main towns of the island. You might even spot a film crew or two, as documentary crews frequently use the amazing scenery as a backdrop. There are also numerous ancient museums and churches if your taste is of a more historical one.

Overall Zante is one of the best Greek islands I’ve been too and with its mix of old and new, there’s something for everyone, whatever your age.

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