The air is getting cooler and autumn is seemingly on its way, so I though it would be a good idea to share some summer holiday snaps from Zakynthos, to remind us of that blissful feeling of sunshine, family connectedness and happiness.
Where we stayed: Mabely Grand Hotel
Good value 5 star hotel in the mountains.
Nice hotel with amazing view of the sunset. Service very good and staff super friendly. Great facilities for kids including 2 pools, tennis court, football ground and playground. They also have a great TV room near the lobby where the kids could just chill and hang out with their friends, especially after dinner, while the adults would have a drink at the lobby bar. Due to poor wifi connection, everyone had to chat and play board games ! That took us all a bit of getting used to ….
This was one of my most chilled holidays ever with kids, thanks to the safe and intimate surroundings. Kids made great friends and could safely explore and play within the grounds while I relaxed by the pool and make sure whoever is in the water was safe. Most of the staff knew the kids names within the first few days and helped keep an eye on them all.
There are no beaches near the hotel. Nearest one is about 20 minutes away, so you have to drive there or take one of the hotel shuttles.
We had to space these trips out and go very slowly, as the roads are pretty winding and our little Maya gets easily car-sick.
Our favourite beaches:
Banana Beach was the first beach that we visited and it was brilliant. Well organised, nice restaurant and good sandy beach.
Shipwreck Beach is beautiful but can get extremely crowded, as there are regular ferries dropping masses of people their during the day. I recommend you hire a little boat to go there if your budget would allow it. Our lovely captain also took us to visit the blue caves and let the kids have a go at fishing (they have been wanting to do that for years ! ). The turquoise water and the fine sand inside some of the caves are just incredible !
We hired our boat from Porto Vromi, a charming little bay with a small café and crystal clear water.
If you prefer a well organised, more commercial beach with activities and watersports, I’d recommend Laganas. It has parking, sun-beds, and a range of restaurants and bars but out of the mentioned, it is probably one of my least favourite. However, the kids loved it, due to the long shallow beach and warm water.
Next, a beach that may be worth a visit, although not great for little kids is Xygia beach. It is a very small picturesque beach, with a characteristic smell of sulphur, coming from a sulphureous source found in a cave nearby but the rocks surrounding the water can be quite slippery and makes it hard to swim in.
The residents of the area believe that the waters there are healing and are recommended for the treatment of the arthritis and general well-being.
Last, I would like to mention the Windmills and Skinari Light House, not a beach as such but if you walk pass the windmill and Light House and walk down the stepped path down towards the water, there is a little dock where you can jump into the crystal clear water. Great place for snorkelling and for the more experienced swimmers, you can swim over to some of the blue caves from there. The views here are stunning.
Other things that we did and loved:
A visit to an artists studio and vineyard.
A pit stop at an off-road juice bar full of Dobermanns and incredible view.
Lunch at a Taverna, again with a stunning view and very good food.
We had such a wonderful time together on this holiday but of course, not entirely without dramas. There was quite a few tantrums, as well as fights …. as is normal traveling with kids ( ?!) that get both over excited, over heated and over tired but what fun we had.
Now back at home and our every day routines, we continue to try and keep that feeling of togetherness as best we can …
PS. Zakynthos is known for its Loggerhead Turtles but please beware before heading out to see them, that this is their home and their natural habitat and they don’t like being disturbed by crowds of tourists. Leave them alone and let them be.
Head over to Instagram to see what else we have been up to.