Zakynthos, one of the seven Greek Ionian islands, is world famous for the caretta-caretta turtles and the amazing beaches and caves. In Laganas bay nests 80% of the caretta-caretta population in the whole Mediterranean sea. Turcoise waters, limestone caves, underwater labyrinth, sun and white sand gravel beaches.
Caretta-Caretta Cruise Zakynthos Island With A Big Boat
What to expect:
We boarded at 9 am in Zante Town, being picked up from the hotels. Our boat was quite big, with two decks. This is great as you have plenty of space to enjoy the sun. There was a bar and tables and as we were a big group it was very comfortable.
The boat had a licensed to do Caretta-Caretta tours, issued by the Marine National Park of Zakynthos.
We had on board volunteers from the Archelon Sea Turtle Protection Society. They gave information about the turtles, how we can lower the tourism impact and how to protect them. They even spoke in the microphone and we all ended up more aware of our impact in turtles population and how to protect these magnificent creatures.
Heading to Marathonisi, the turtle island
We were lucky to have a great weather. But this is so common for the summer in Greece! Cruising the Ionian sea was wonderful. Also we had some very beautiful views of Zakynthos island. It was amazing to admire Gerakas beach from the sea, after being it inland.
Then we saw the Kalonisi island and right after the Marathonisi one, that has a turtle shape.
Swimming and snorkeling in the caves of Marathonisi Island
First stop of the day was in Marathonisi island, but not on the sandy beach, where turtles nest, instead on a gravel beach. The place looks like a little paradise, with turquoise waters and white sand (gravel but from the distance you cannot make the difference).
There are a lot of caves and we went swimming to the beach and then inside the caves. I did some snorkelling and enjoyed it a lot. Yet not as spectacular as two days before, when I saw a huge turtle in the water very close to the shore, in Laganas, it was fantastic.
After Marathonisi we went further to Keri Caves (in Zante island). We also swam in here and had time for snorkelling.
We didn’t had lunch included but had the lunch package from the hotel. There was also a bar on the boat with lots of snacks, savoury and sweet and drinks. Got some coffee, wine and chips. Taking into consideration that the trip lasts till about 16:00 in the afternoon and then it is also the transfer tot the hotel, you have to be prepared if you don’t want the typical ”boat bar” menu.
We did saw some turtles!
There is something magical about the turtles. We saw some near Cameo island, in Laganas bay.
Zakynthos island is a nursery for Caretta-Caretta turtles
The loggerhead sea turtle – Caretta-Caretta are the largest hard-shelled sea turtles. They are are contemporary with the dinosaurs, being on Planet Earth 250 millions of years ago! Yet, because of the pollution and uninformed tourism, plus other facts related to the human development they are now endangered.
In Laganas bay are nesting 80% of the caretta-caretta turtles in Mediterranean sea. Locals say that some years ago (30) the beaches were black with the turtles, they were nesting on daylight. Now they are only coming at night.
Thankfully, there are a few years already since there were adopted many measures to protect the turtles. And are fruitful and the fast decrease of the turtles population stopped.
What were the biggest problems here? Umbrellas infiltrated in the nests and smashing the eggs. High speed boats crushing adult turtles. Many nests were destroyed by the cars or ATW’s on the beaches.
Planes are not landing at night as to not stress the turtles nesting.
Many beaches have restricted access, for people and cars alike. Day and mostly in the night.
There are no high -speed sports in Laganas bay, like jet ski, or others. The only ones allowed are snorkelling and diving.
The speed is limited in Laganas bay, as for the turtles to be able to see the boats are avoid them.
Also, the glass-bottom boats that goes right above the turtles, with people pulling them out of the water is extremely stressful for the turtles. And this is only direct tourism and then there are the plastic bags that kill so many and the abandoned fishing nets and so on.
So if you can at any moment, can donate to help conservation process and even adopt a turtle, see here how:
Packing list for the tour:
- Water, fruits, snacks. Big boats have also a bar so you can buy.
- Sunglasses, hat.
- Swimsuit, towel, a sweater or hoodie or a jacket.
- Underwater camera, snorkelling gear.