The popular Greek holiday hotspot of Zante hides some of its most spectacular secrets underground. For a subterranean experience you'll never forget, be sure to visit the famous Blue Grotto.
Where is the Blue Grotto?It's almost impossible to visit Zante and not to hear about the Blue Grotto. The caves are the island's most famous attraction and are a fascinating day out for families and couples. You'll find them in the north in an area called Skinari. Discovered in 1897 by Antonio Komouto, these natural wonders have been formed by continual erosion of the cliff by the sea, creating a series of magical chambers. The Blue Grotto takes its name from the sapphire colour cast by the sunlight shimmering through the water and being reflected into the caves.
How to get thereThe most popular way to reach the caves is by boat. You'll find plenty at the Agios Nikolaos port. However, it's worth knowing that you reach the boats by walking down a series of stone steps, which have been cut into the cliff-face and bring you down to sea-level, so our top tip is to wear comfortable shoes. This is not the place for flip-flops or heels. Once you get down to the jetty, you can step into a boat and your cruise to the caves gets underway. Most of the boats are small, allowing them to get right into the caves. Many also have glass bottoms, so you can peer into the glittering waters and spot shimmering shoals of fish and bright corals. It takes around 20 minutes to get to the caves and the tour lasts around an hour.
Exploring the cavesOnce you've arrived, your captain will guide you through the caves that are accessible. For those who want to immerse themselves in the experience, there's the opportunity to weigh anchor and swim in the bright blue waters. Tours typically allow an hour for visitors to enjoy the full effect of the blues, turquoises and purples that dance on the interior of the caves. Once you're done exploring the caves there's also the opportunity to stop off at Shipwreck Bay on the way back. Also known as Smuggler's Cove, this is one of the most stunning beaches in Greece. However, while the white cliffs, powder-soft sands and warm waters are easy on the eye, the beach's centrepiece is the wrecked ship that gives the bay its name. There are many stories surrounding how it came to be there, but the most accepted is that it was once a smuggling ship that ran aground after being chased by Greek officials.
See the caves from belowFor those who want to take the whole experience to the next level, there's the opportunity to scuba dive in the pool. While it's ideal for experienced divers, it's also suitable for newbies. Most tours operate an introduction to diving for beginners, which covers the basics in around half an hour. However, you won't be left on your own; guides accompany even the most seasoned of divers, showing them the best routes to take and pointing out the marine wildlife along the way. It's widely reckoned that the best time for scuba diving in the caves is around noon, when the visibility underwater is at its best and the dancing colours in the caves are at their most vivid. There are deeper dives for more adventurous souls, but the main caves are safe enough for divers of all abilities.
What to do nextDusted with white sands, lapped by the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean, and with an average temperature of around 26℃, Zante is one of the world's most popular holiday destinations. In addition to beautiful beaches and idyllic weather, you'll find plenty of things to do on your holidays to Zante. Look out for the Loggerhead Turtles that come to nest on the beaches, hit the bustling markets in the north of the island and hunt out some bargains, or soak up some of the island's ancient past with a visit to the Venetian fort at Bohali. Holidays to Zante are full of surprises, but the Blue Grotto must be one of the most breath-taking. Once you've completed your cruise, grab a leisurely dinner in an authentic taverna or get ready to dive into some of the island's buzzing nightlife. Whether you see the caves from the comfort of a boat or from under the sea, don't forget to take your camera.