As someone who has been living on the Greek island of Zakynthos for longer than I care to remember, I have decide to write some posts on the island. Sharing information or just describing what the island has to offer, as it often doesn’t get the credit it so deserves.
All About Zakynthos
Zakynthos, although only measuring approximately 40km by 20 km is the third largest of the Greek islands situated in the Ionian sea. It is a popular tourist destination attracting mainly tourists from Europe, although we do sometimes see tourists from further afield.
Earthquakes And Tremors
There are a lot of American, Canadian and Australian Greeks living on the island, which is due to the many families who emigrated to those countries after the ‘Big Earthquake’ of 1953. It was on August 12th, 1953, when the Greek islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia were hit by an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale. It was a biggie.
The damage caused was immense, buildings were raised to the ground and many people were left homeless. This coupled with the fear of another earthquake striking, led many of the islands inhabitants to leave and set up home either on the Greek mainland or further afield in countries like America, Canada and Australia.
We still feel the earth move regularly here on Zakynthos and sometimes it can be a little unsettling, but the majority of the buildings now are designed to withstand tremors and earthquakes, and there are no what you would call high rise buildings on the island. If it were that bad I would not have settled here with my husband and bought up a family, so don’t be put off by the possibility of a little ground movement.
The change on Zakynthos from the winter months to the summer months has to be witnessed to believe. During the main tourist season, which runs from May 1st to October 31st, we see something like over 500,000 tourist on the island. With visitor numbers reaching their peak in July and August, when the island is popular not only with foreign tourists, but also with Greeks heading here to enjoy their summer holidays, away from the heat of the mainland – not that it doesn’t get hot here, it does, but when you have a choice of beautiful beaches head to the heat doesn’t seem so bad.
It is not uncommon for the mercury to hit 40°C in July and August with the nights being uncomfortably hot too – thank goodness for air conditioning, except we don’t actually have any and rely on fans to keep the air moving, helping us to stay comfortable. Living here, we are pretty much acclimatised to the heat and we just get on with it.
The main reason I don’t like air conditioning is because if you are in an air conditioned building and then go outside the heat feels terrific. The contrast makes the outside heat feel unbearable and I can’t do that for weeks on end.
Another reason I don’t like air conditioning is because it is expensive to run!
With the heat come the fires which cause untold damage to the flora and fauna on the island. Some of the fires are caused by the land being tinderbox dry, but unfortunately many of the fires are caused by the careless nature of people and some of the fires are actually started on purpose for reasons only really known to the perpetrators.
In the summer firefighters and the pilots flying the fire planes have their work cut out. I do believe that their are only three fire planes for all of the Ionian islands. Not many considering and it is not unusual to see special helicopters and fire planes from neighbouring countries helping to put out wild fires. Especially if Greece is having a particularly bad summer of fires.
The winter months are very quiet on Zakynthos, the population drops to something like 45,000 people, the resorts shut down and the main town is considerably quieter. Which is great after the craziness of the summer!
Driving anywhere takes a fraction of the time and the atmosphere is totally different, it feels more relaxed as the locals and foreigners who live on the island, get time to catch their breath again.
Zakynthos does have an airport, but for five months of the year it is closed for international flights, only opening for the local Athens flight once a day.
In recent years we have seen international flights start to arrive in April, although there really aren’t that many to get excited about. The island is still very quiet, with not many of the businesses aimed at tourists being open and the weather can be unpredictable in April , which is great if a quiet, get away from it all break is what you are looking for, but not so great if you are expecting more.
The annual rainfall average on Zakynthos is the same as the UK, with most of it falling during the winter months. It is not unusual to go months without seeing rain or rainclouds, making the island dry and dusty in the summer. I think in June and July we get something like thirteen hours of sunshine a day, which probably drops to about twelve hours in August as the nights draw in.
During my time on the island I have witnessed snow several times, one year it settled on the mini mountains near us. My son was lucky enough to get to play in it and wasn’t overly impressed, my daughter regrets the day she preferred to go and play at her friends house, missing the opportunity to play in the snow.
The island really does have a lot to offer. It has several holiday resorts aimed at different types of holiday makers and there are plenty of private villas to rent that are far away from the resorts, if you are looking for a nice quiet getaway holiday.
The scenery on the island is quite stunning, one side of the island has a really rugged coast line with very few beaches, but the rest of the coastline is dotted with large and small beaches. Some that get busy as they are near a resort and others that are quieter as you need a car to get to them.
Sadly many visitors to the island don’t actually leave the resorts and some rarely venture out from their hotel complex, so miss out on the beauty of the island. Don’t be one of them!
Have you visited Zakynthos or another one of the Greek islands? If so, why not share your experience below?
I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.
Copyright © 2014 Debbie Roberts
© 2014 – 2015, Debbie. All rights reserved.