Caretta Caretta is the name of the probably most famous inhabitant of Zakynthos: The endangered sea turtles. Even though it isn’t these inhabitants that take of most space on Zakynthos, they have a big place in the hearts of both locals and tourists.
Turtles and tourists
Laganas Bay on Zakynthos has for many years been popular among two groups: Turtles and tourists. This bay is the most important breeding site for turtles in Greece, and it is therefore utterly important in the work of protecting the endangered species.
Until the bay was declared a National Marine Park in 1990, a lot of tourists enjoyed water sports such as water-ski and jet-ski in this area. Luckily, someone remembered that the turtles were here first, and it is no longer permitted to do any kind of motor-driven water sports activities here. On some beaches in the area you are not allowed to stay after sunset, and airplanes are not allowed to fly over the bay during the night.
Meet a turtle
Since the turtles are quite the celebrities on this Island, many people want to meet them. If you are very lucky, you might see a turtle if you put on your snorkeling gear and swim around in Laganas Bay, but there is also a variety of organized trips you can join, where the chance of actually seeing a turtle is bigger. It is important to remember that turtles are wild animals, so there is no guarantee. I highly recommend for you to pick a tour operator that will arrange a tour that is on the turtles’ terms. Nothing good comes out of “chasing” the turtles around.
We chose to buy a trip from Laganas Boat Trips, who were located on the Beach in Laganas. They used smaller glass bottom boats. Nothing fancy or comfortable, but we had a nice trip at a very fair price – and I feel like they took the well-being of the turtles into consideration. They don’t have a website, but they are hard to miss if you walk along the beach. Before you head off, you will have to leave your shoes at their small booth at the beach. You won’t need them along the way, and you actually have to walk quite a distance into the water just to get out to the boat. So you do not have to wear your long shorts either!
Turtle Island and Keri Caves
Laganas Boat Trips had a few tours to choose from, but we chose the longest on 3 hours. First, we sailed around in Laganas bay to see if we could spot a turtle. To get a better view of things, our captain stood up with his head out the window, while he used his feet to steer the boat. I do not believe that that was strictly by the book, but it payed off. He spotted a turtle, and we got to enjoy the sight of it graze through the glass bottom of the boat. The water was extremely clear, so it was no problem to see at all.
Next stop was Marathonisi Island – also known as Turtle Island. This uninhabited island is one of the favorite places for the turtles to lay their eggs. For that reason, most of the island is roped off for us tourists. We had an hour here to take a dip in the clear water, enjoy the view and look into the closed off area, where many turtle nests were marked off.
Turtle Island hasn’t only gotten its name because the turtles like to be here. If you use your imagination, it actually looks like a turtle as well – even from different angles. This became clear as we continued our trip along the coast to Keri Caves. Along the way we had the chance to jump into the crystal clear water. Let me warn you: The water out here is much (!) colder than in the shallow Laganas Bay! Let us just call it a very refreshing experience.
After the cold dip it was time to head back to Laganas where we jumped off the boat and got our shoes back on. All in all, this was a lovely afternoon trip that I will highly recommend if you are interested in these fascinating animals. And if you are not, then just use the time on the boat to enjoy the incredible landscape, you pass on the way.
Visited in July 2016
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