Zakynthos Holidays With Children: What You Need to Know
After previously recommending the best Zakynthos destinations for couples and young people, with this article we are providing information for families who want to enjoy a vacation in Zakynthos with their children.
Zakynthos is still seen as the ideal destination for young people and couples, but in the last few years, the island has changed to a place also suitable for families. The island is very diverse and provides unforgettable vacation opportunities for everyone, from the many young people wanting to enjoy a vibrant nightlife to those vacationers who just want to immerse themselves in nature. In fact, Zakynthos still offers isolated and peaceful beaches and coves, where the water is crystal clear and nature is unspoiled. Thanks to its shallow water, which is still warm even in October, and to its mild climate all year long, Zakynthos Island is a destination also suitable for families with children.
WHERE TO STAY WITH CHILDREN
In Zakynthos, the only area not recommended for families with children is Laganas. The other main resort towns, including Argassi, Zante Town, Tsilivi, Alykes, Alykanas, Keri, Agios Sostis and Kalamaki, are all suitable for families and among other services, they offer minimarkets, souvenir shops, medical offices and pharmacies.
Zante Town (or Zakynthos Town) is the capital and main port on the island and as such, it offers all the services typical of a city: restaurants, bars, stores, and so much more. With the exception of a small stretch of sand in proximity of the Alivizos Asteria Restaurant, the beach is pebbly and the water is shallow. In the evening, families with children gather at Dionisios Solomos Square, where parents watch their children play. You can also rent bicycles or ride the tourist train, which departs from there. The city center is noisy in the evening; we therefore recommend finding an accommodation at least 500 meters from downtown to ensure peaceful sleep at night. (Also read “What to Do in Zante Town and its Surrounding Areas“).
Kalamaki is an excellent choice for families. Among other services, it offers the Caretta Fun Park -an amusement park for children- and a minigolf. The beach extends for 3,500 meters and is part of area A of the Marine Park, the most protected and monitored one, cleaned daily by park volunteers. Its sandy beach, warm waters from the beginning of June to the end of September, and a gently sloping seabed make it perfect for families who want to relax with their children.
You should keep in mind that there are no equipped beaches because of the Marine Park’s restrictions (For more info: “Marine Park’s map, beaches and regulations“). In fact, in order to protect turtle nests, umbrellas cannot be positioned on the beach and kids can only play within three meters from the shore. Pedal boats can be rented for spotting Loggerhead (Caretta Caretta) turtles. Kalamaki is very quiet in the evening and families enjoy strolling along the main street among its souvenir shops and restaurants. (Also read “What to Do in and Around Kalamaki“).
Argassi is a small resort town only 3 Km from Zante Town. The beach is very small but is a good compromise to spend a few hours on the first or last day of your vacation on the island. The main street offers all essential services, including a pharmacy. Although sometimes Argassi might be bustling with people and cars, you can leave the noise behind by moving about 50 meters from the main intersection. Argassi is an excellent choice if you want to be close to the city (only a few minute drive) and easily reach the Vasilikos beaches. (Also read “What to Do in Argassi and Surrounding Areas“).
Tsilivi is the third most popular resort town on the island, suitable for families and people over 50. In addition to the main services, it offers a bowling alley, a minigolf, a small playground, and a waterpark. There are both a free beach and a fully equipped beach with water sports suitable for adults and children alike. In the evening, the atmosphere is very relaxed with most businesses shutting down by 1:00 am. (Also read “What to Do in Tsilivi and Its Surrounding Areas“).
Alykes/Alykanas are two small seaside villages a few hundred meters from each other. They are a good choice for families with children, even though the Marine Park area and the Vasilikos beaches are about 45 minutes by car. The main street offers all the same services provided by the aforementioned resort towns. The beach is sandy with chair and umbrella rentals available. In the evening, families stroll along the main street and on the banks of the small river flowing into the sea. (Also read “What to Do in Alykes/Alykanas and Surrounding Areas“).
Agios Sostis is a small village located on Laganas Bay. The village is centered around a single seaside road where all main services are located. The beach is divided in two by Cameo Island: the first half, in other words the part adjacent to the village center, is sandy but very small with few chairs and umbrellas, whereas the other half, passed Cameo Island, is larger and better equipped with rentable chairs and umbrellas. A lot of families choose the latter because of its shallow water for tens of meters from the shore and for the possibility of renting pedal boats and other vessels. Agios Sostis is an excellent compromise to easily reach the other resort towns on the island (also read “What to Do in Agios Sostis and Its Surrounding Areas“).
Limni Keri (not to be confused with the mountain village Keri) is the smallest and most peaceful village in Zakynthos. The only services offered are a small harbor used by boats departing for Marathonisi Island, two minimarkets and a few restaurants and bars. The pebbly beach has a few pine trees providing shade during the hottest hours and the crystal clear and shallow water will allow you to safely watch your children play in the water. In the evening, the atmosphere is very relaxed and all businesses close shortly after dinner, leaving the area lit only by the moon and a few streetlamps (also read “What to Do in Keri and Its Surrounding Areas“).
THE MOST SUITABLE BEACHES FOR FAMILIES
In order to properly plan beach days with kids, it is important to be familiar with Zakynthos’s geological map. The island has a coastline of 123 kilometers and its triangular shape allows us to conveniently divide it into three areas: western coast, southern coast and eastern coast.
Zante’s Western Coast
The western coast is the island’s rocky coast and with the exception of Porto Vromi – a cove with a small beach – and Shipwreck Beach, accessible only by boat, all other beaches have abruptly deep water and consequently are not suitable for young children. For more info: Western Coast Beaches.
Zante’s Southern Coast
Zante’s southern coast is the most peaceful and rugged part of the island, but also the least serviced. This is in fact the area where the Zakynthos Marine Park is located and consequently, restrictions have been set in place to protect turtle nesting sites (for more info: “Marine Park’s map, beaches and regulations“). Among the restrictions affecting families with children, there is the ban to use chairs and umbrellas on the beach, and to play and walk more than 3 meters from the shore.
All Marine Park beaches are sandy with shallow water and a gently sloping seabed. Furthermore, boats are not allowed to enter Area A, specifically Gerakas, Dafni e Kalamaki, thus making it safer for children to play in the water. One of the preferred beaches by families is Dafni, where there are four small restaurants that offer free use of beach chairs and umbrellas with the purchase of something to eat or drink. The complete absence of boats, the numerous trees providing shade during the hottest hours, and the presence of restrooms and showers, indisputably make it the favorite beach of families with children. For more info: Southern Coast Beaches.
Zante’s Eastern Coast
Unlike the southern coast where the Marine Park enforces restrictions on the type of available services and the number of rentable umbrellas and chairs, the eastern coast is the island’s best equipped area with beaches that offer all the most popular services among tourists, including music, beach chair and umbrella rentals, water sports, and restaurants and bars directly on the sand. However, in addition to that, there are also free beaches and less crowded coves where the only sound you’ll hear will be the crickets chirping. For more info: Eastern Coast Beaches.
WHAT TO DO IN ZAKYNTHOS WITH CHILDREN
Zakynthos Island offers various activities for children and renting a car will allow you to visit them all.
Marine Park Excursion
Watching Loggerhead (Caretta-Caretta) turtles leisurely swimming in the clear and calm water of the Zakynthos Marine Park is always a wonderful sight, especially for children. For a better experience, we strongly recommend booking an excursion on a small boat, 30 seats max, that will allow you to see them up close, and avoiding the larger boats often suggested by greedy tour operators. As a valid alternative, families often choose to rent a boat that doesn’t require a boating license to independently reach more isolated coves and beaches. These boats all come with a canopy that will protect you from the sun during the hottest hours.
Excursions to Shipwreck Beach
When booking this excursion, you need to pay close attention to the type of boat and tour you choose. The tour of the island, done with large 300 passenger boats, is absolutely not recommended for families with children: in addition to being exhausting for kids, it is a day spent at sea where the sum of the three swim stops doesn’t exceed one and a half hour. We recommend the Northern Coast Tour and the Western Coast Tour, with boats up to 50 passengers, which last a maximum of three hours. In addition to providing docking directly on the beach and entering inside the caves, these tours are less exhausting and more fun for kids.
Caretta Fun Park
This amusement park for kids is located in Kalamaki. It offers inflatables of various shapes and sizes, trampolines, videogames, water games, vending machines and so much more for a fun evening with the entire family.
There are two waterparks in Zakynthos Island, one in Sarakinado and one in Tsilivi. Both are particularly popular among families with children, who want to spend a day enjoying waterslides and aquatic games.
Sea Turtle Rescue & Information Center
This Marine Park exhibit center, which is dedicated to Loggerhead Caretta-Caretta sea turtles, is located in Gerakas. Through interesting multimedia displays, you can learn about the life of marine turtles and about the turtle nests scattered on the island’s beaches. You will also find land turtles and other interesting animal and plant species.
Helmi’s Natural History Museum
For nature lovers, which children generally are, there is also a Natural History Museum in Agia Marina, where you can see specimens of the island’s plants and animals, in addition to rocks and minerals, fossils, seashells, and local fish and birds. Informational material for children will enhance the experience.
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION FOR A VACATION IN ZAKYNTHOS WITH YOUR CHILDREN?
Directly ask the people living in Zakynthos on the Facebook group: Welcometozante.