My arms were aching, my face a shade of crimson, and the enthusiastic instructor was shouting ‘Bravo, Natalie! Keep up the pace!’ – you’d think this was a gruelling fitness boot-camp, but I was loving every minute. This was actually a kayaking trip around the natural coastal landscape and aquatic gems of Zakynthos, a new way of exploring the island, one-on-one with nature.
Having never kayaked before, I was apprehensive as to what to expect, worried that I may capsize in the water (!), or not be able to keep up with the rest of my group of 8. My worries were soon eased however, when I entered the kayak and it was surprisingly easy to navigate, with a little instruction from our guide, Dimitris. To my relief, this instruction did not include learning how to recover a capsized kayak – there was no danger of this. These were light and agile, unrestrictive and roomy, with plenty of space to keep your water bottle, caps and suncream – a must for any open-air water sports. I’d opted for the solo kayak, but there were also a number of double kayaks, should you wish to team up with your partner, or simply sit back and enjoy the view as they put in the hard work!
We began the 8 mile–round tour along the marina of Laganas Bay, otherwise known as Keri Lake to frequent visitors and locals due to its tranquil waters, where we started gently kayaking to a pine-covered islet in the distance, Marathonissi. Fringed by powdery sands and crystalline waters, its beauty was staggering, and as we looked back, the hustle of Laganas seemed distant. Otherwise known as Turtle Island, this quiet islet was our first stop, and provided great opportunity to try and spot nesting turtles or simply cool off in the turquoise-hued water.
After grabbing a few photo opportunities (if you’ve not got a waterproof camera, Dimitris also provides group photos of the trip) and refreshing in the sizzling summer heat, we were back in our kayaks for the next leg of the route – the Keri Caves. On the to-do list of most visitors, the immaculate white cliff faces are etched with these spectacular arches, creating a natural passage only accessible by small boats. Luckily for us, the petite size of our kayaks meant that we could go deep into these caves, paddling through the milky blue water and admiring their peculiar shape in groups of two or three, away from the otherwise more crowded areas.
Our next short break was in a stunning secluded cove, dotted with pebbly sands and washed with glassy waters, we’d discovered one of the many hidden gems of the island’s natural landscape. Keen to dive into the warm waters, we were handed snorkeling equipment from Dimitris and headed off to explore. Schools of tiny fish swam below us, as we eagerly pointed out our underwater discoveries, before we returned to our kayaks. Thankful of the light break, we looked over to the bay from which we had set off, ready for our last leg of the trip.
Who is this trip for?
The final kayak back to land can be tiring for some, which is why I would not recommend this trip for younger children or those not in good physical shape. That is not to say you have to be an Olympic athlete – as a self-confessed 22-year old gymophobe, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the tranquility while out at sea, fishing villages and hillsides in the distance, is beyond compare. I encourage those with a love for natural beauty, a passion for adventure and a thirst for exploring the island in a unique way, to try sea kayaking in Zakynthos.