Greek Island Holiday: Turtle Watching on Zante

Greek Island Holiday: Turtle Watching on Zante

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The Greek Islands have a world-renowned reputation for their majestic beauty. It’s no surprise that for centuries, the natives firmly believed them to be the home of the Gods. Even when visiting today for a Greek holiday, it’s hard not to feel like one is stepping into a dreamland.

One such island, Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is a perfect example. Located on the western coast of Greece, Zante is the third-largest Greek island in the Ionian sea. Fans of Homer might recall him mentioning Zakynthos in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, in which he claims the island’s first inhabitants arrived over 3500 years ago. While this sun-drenched locale, with its rustic hillside architecture and exquisite beaches, has attractions similar to many of the other enticing islands that surround it, Zante also provides turtle lovers a one-of-a-kind treat.

The Bay of Laganas is tucked into the side of Zante. Here is one of the largest breeding grounds of the “loggerhead sea turtle” in the entire Mediterranean. One can recognize this marine reptile by its reddish-brown shell and its light-colored skin. While they are not the largest turtles in the sea, they are elegant and graceful, which makes them a treat to observe in their already astounding natural environment. Although the loggerhead, like so many exotic creatures, is on the endangered species list, the bay is also Greece’s first marine park, which means that the turtles are free to thrive in this protected location.

Because the turtles are such a popular attraction, there are numerous, although carefully regulated, opportunities for visitors to catch a sight of them on their Greek holiday. While one can hope to be fortunate enough to see a loggerhead pop ashore, the typical way of spotting one is to hop aboard one of the many boat tours around the island. Thanks to the lucid waters of the islands, it’s easy to see these peaceful creatures serenely glide below the water’s surface.

The most popular time of year for turtle enthusiasts to plan a holiday to Zante would be between April and June. This, of course, is the time when visitors are most likely to sneak a peek at the loggerhead sea turtles as they return to the beach to lay and bury their eggs. For a tradition that has lasted for who-knows-how-many generations of turtles, those who have witnessed such an event are never disappointed. Of all the beaches around the island, Sekania beach seems to be the spot where the most turtles emerge from the sea.

While it may be difficult to narrow down an itinerary of the many holiday-worthy Greek islands, Zante, simply for its natural treasures, should no doubt make any tourist’s list.

Image by heatheronhertravels