Diving Into Zakynthos

Lesante Blu Exclusive Beach Resort’s Owner And Managing Director Reveals The Must-See Spots On The Island He Calls Home

Dionysis Vithoulkas

Owner & Managing Director, Lesante Blu Exclusive Beach Resort

“I was born in the hotel industry,” says Dionysis Vithoulkas, whose father immigrated to America but moved back to Greece when Dionysis was just six years old. His father and uncle opened their first hotel—then called Poseidon—in 1986. More than twenty years later, Dionysis and his brother Kostas joined the family business and opened their first resort on the island of Zakynthos, often referred to by its Italian name Zante. “Zakynthos is a very green island with fantastic beaches,” Dionysis explains. “But it’s not a place where you come for the Mykonos lifestyle,” he adds. “Here it’s more about tradition, a relaxed atmosphere, and exploring the beaches and wild nature.”

The island has a rich history, too. Named for an ancient Arcadian chief, it changed hands many times over the centuries, ruled first by the Athenians, then the Romans and various Italian dynasties, including the Venetian Republic, before being ceded to the French, becoming a British protectorate, and finally returning to Greece in 1864.

Dionysis Vithoulkas, owner and managing director at Lesante Blu Exclusive Beach Resort.

Local Recommendations

Explore Zakynthos With Lesante Blu’s Owner And Managing Director, Dionysis Vithoulkas

Though he has lived on Zakynthos for more than thirty years, Dionysis still enjoys discovering unfamiliar beaches, coves, and other hidden gems. When he’s not managing the resort’s day-to-day operations, he loves to hang out at the infinity pool—which, he says, appears in the vast majority of the photos guests post to Instagram—and explore the island’s charming villages, rural paths, and scenic beaches. Here, the resort’s owner and managing director shares his favorite places on the island he calls home.

Savoring Greek Delights

From Morning Coffee To A Romantic Dinner With A View

Greek cuisine has a reputation for its fresh, quality ingredients and Mediterranean flavors, so you can expect to eat well on Zakynthos. Start the day off right with a strong Greek coffee in Loucha, an unspoiled village in the mountains. There’s only one café in town, so you can’t miss it. When you’re ready for lunch, head to the village of Volimes on the northern coast. There, Nobelos Bio Restaurant (Agios Nikolaos; +30-269-503-1400) serves organic cuisine overlooking a rocky beach. “I recommend the moussaka, which is very Greek, and the fresh fish,” Dionysis says.

For a romantic dinner, he adores Aperitto (615 Agios Sostis; +30-269-505-5358) on the southern part of the island. This seafront restaurant serves Greek and Mediterranean specialties, like mussels steamed with saffron and ouzo, bruschetta with tomatoes and feta, and octopus carpaccio. Another great option is Votsalo Taverna (Marathias; +30-269-504-8044) in the seaside hamlet of Marathias, which serves traditional Greek cuisine in a laid-back environment. “It’s a very green area with fantastic views of the sea,” Dionysis explains.

The view from the outdoor patio of Nobelos Restaurant.

Ionian Island Paradise

Explore The Best Sandy Beaches And Rocky Coves

With so many incredible beaches to choose from, it’s hard to pick favorites, but there are a few that stand out. If there’s one place you absolutely must visit, it’s Navagio, or Shipwreck Beach (Anafonitria)—one of Dionysis’s favorite places on the island. “Even for me, I’m from the island, but every time I go, I’m impressed,” he says. “So I can understand why people love it.” Rumor has it the ship—which ran aground in 1980 and has remained stuck in the sand ever since—was smuggling illegal cigarettes and other contraband. Whatever the true history, it’s one of the island’s top spots for photo ops. Lesante Blu organizes excursions by private yacht to visit Shipwreck Beach and the Blue Caves on the northern coast. You can add a stop at Marathonisi, a protected island off Zante’s shores where turtles migrate from Africa for a few months during the summer.

For pristine stretches of sand with a full-service beach club complete with umbrellas, lounge chairs, bar service, and a boutique, he recommends Porto Azzurro (Vassilikos; +30-269-503-5217). “It’s on the southeast part of the island in an area called Vassilikos with very nice clean water.” To stay active on your vacation, Dionysis suggests doing water sports at Banana Beach (Vassilikos), where you can go paragliding, jet skiing, snorkeling, and sailing.

Overlooking Navagio Beach.

History Comes Alive

Delve Into The Island’s History And Learn About Its Native Son Who Wrote The Greek National Anthem

There are a number of museums in Zakynthos town where you can learn all about the island’s rich history, from the Byzantine Museum to the Naval Museum. Dionysis suggests visiting Solomos Square, where the Solomos & Kalvos Museum (15 St. Marco Square; +30-269-502-8982) recounts the history of the island and Dionysios Solomos, the poet who wrote Greece’s national anthem. You can also visit Lofos Strani (Bochali), the hill where Solomos heard cannon fire during the war between the Greeks and the Turks, which inspired the anthem’s lyrics.
The island’s many churches reveal its multi-cultural influences. St. Dennis Church (1 Markovitz; +30-269-504-3805), sometimes referred to as St. Dionysis, is Zakynthos town’s largest Greek orthodox church built to honor the island’s patron saint. At St. Marco Square, you can visit the island’s only Catholic church, a reminder of the days when Zante was under Italian rule.

St. Dionysis Church, Zakynthos town’s largest Greek orthodox church.
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