If I mention the Greek island of Zante I’m pretty sure I’ve got a good idea of what springs into your mind. I was the same before I started researching venues for our wedding. Zante is famous for being a party island; a place where school leavers go to get pissed and do whatever school leavers do (I wouldn’t know as I never went on one of those raucous holidays)! Zante tends to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons, drunk Brit-kids spilling out of bars, quadbike accidents and General bad behaviour. However, this beautiful Ionian island deserves a lot more recognition than it gets credit for. The partying is pretty much exclusively contained within the town of Laganas in the south of the island, and the rest of Zante is largely unspoilt mountains, rural areas and stunning hidden beaches. There are a few main towns where you will find the regular tourist traps, but if you step outside the hotel-land and explore the island, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Last time we were in Zante it was for our wedding (!) so when we returned this year we made it our mission to see more of this beautiful island and find out all of it’s secrets. Here are my top picks for a different kind of holiday on this paradise island.

Rent a motorboat and find your own turtles in Keri

Zante is all about the turtles. It’s famous for it and the popular beaches and harbours are packed full of ‘guaranteed turtle spotting trips’. You probably will see a turtle on one of these excursions however, they are generally large boats full of tourists so you are unlikely to get anywhere near the turtle, let alone get a photo of it. It’s much better, and not much more expensive, to take a short drive to the quiet southern harbour of Keri where you can rent a small motorboat of about 100 euroes. No experience needed, not even a driving licence! Apart from being an amazing experience and great fun, your chances of seeing a turtle are pretty high at the right time of year.  Once the boat is hired you can take it for a spin to the beautiful Keri caves and across to the famous ‘turtle island’ where the turtles lay their eggs (these are all roped off to make sure they are kept safe). For the best chance of seeing these amazing creatures we recommend heading to the opposite side of the bay to the caves, close to the Harmony Hotel and sticking close to the coastline (it’s deep so no worries about the boat!) just cruising up and down on the lookout! We saw about 5 turtles in this area and there was literally no one else there! We jumped in and snorkelled with the turtles without worrying about crowding or upsetting them with too many people. It was a truly magical experience.

 

Dine with the most stunning view in Kampi

The town of Kampi is set in the West of the island and is somewhat off the beaten track, but it’s famous for having several clifftop restaurants with the most incredible views! They get booked up in advance for evenings as the sunset there is apparently gorgeous, however we stopped there for lunch – kind of by accident during a drive! We ate at one of the clifftop venues and even in the daytime the view of the rugged coastline and the crystal clear blue water was absolutely incredible. The restaurants all serve traditional Greek dishes and are set up with stunning shaded outdoor areas to enjoy the view whilst tucking in!

 

See the famous ‘Shipwreck beach’ before the crowds

The incredible image of the rusty shell of a shipwreck washed up on the white sand is probably familiar one. In fact, Navagio or shipwreck beach is repeatedly included in roundups of the most picturesque beaches in the world! It’s definitely worth seeing, but going on a tour boat can lead to disappointment when you can’t get a picture without thousands of people crawling all over the place! I’m not exaggerating when I say that hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists pour on and off this beach all day. As it’s only accessible by boat, the first large tour comes in at about 9.30am – so to get the place to yourself you need to beat it! We were up at 7.30am and drove north for an hour to a small harbour called Porto Vromi where we hired a private boat to take us to the beach before everyone else! It does cost a bit more but as there was four of us the cost of 4 tickets on a tour boat would have been nearly as much as the fee for the private boat. It was so much fun because the boat went super fast and to get there when there was only a handful of people on the beach was simply amazing! The boat hire is also for 3 hours so after an hour of so at the beach our driver took us to some other beautiful swimming and to some of Zante’s famous ‘blue caves’. For a slightly higher cost it was more than worth it.

Eat traditional at hidden restaurants

One of the best things about holidaying in Greece is the delicious food! The authentic local meat, fish and vegetable dishes are simple and yummy, the more home cooked the better. Like anywhere, eating on the main tourist drags will likely result in disappointing meals which are neither authentic nor fresh. My main advice would be to check TripAdvisor and do not be afraid to stray a long way off the beaten track for an incredible meal! There are a lot of tavernas in Greece which are literally almost set up in someones back garden! A few evenings we ended up driving along rickety roads, following dubious directions to find a tiny authentic taverna! Eating at these types of restaurants not only guarantees awesome food, but are also much more reasonable too. I can particularly recommend Votsalo in Keri and Peppermint in Argassi.

Watch the sunset from a beach bed at Porto Roxa

Being perfectly situated on the West Coast means that Porto Roxa sees the most beautiful sunset, it’s famous for it. We new this tiny beach had a nice beach bar and a lovely setting to watch the sunset so we set off there (about an hours drive from Keri) in the mid afternoon. We were delighted and pleasantly surprised to find a gorgeous hippy beach bar serving yummy cocktails and allowing guests to relax on swinging mattresses rather than sunbeds! It may sound odd, but kicking back on a double bed with a mojito to watch the sun go down was incredibly relaxing. There are the traditional sunbeds too for those who want them, but the hanging beds were something different that I’ve never come across before! And the sunset was just….wow. Worth a visit.

Zakynthos will always hold a special place in my heart, but I truly believe it is an amazing holiday destination for couples, families, and has something for everyone! I hope if you decide to make the trip to this idyllic Ionion island that you find these top picks helpful! Have fun in paradise!

 

 

FOLLOW ME:

 

INSTAGRAM
TWITTER
YOUTUBE

 

Deciding to get married abroad can be a daunting experience.  There are many reasons that couples may decide they want to tie the knot somewhere other than their home country, ranging from dreams of beach weddings and beautiful scenery to escaping the stress, fuss and all that comes with a wedding. That’s not to say that getting married in another country wasn’t stressful, but from what I’ve heard it was a lot less stressful than it could have been if we’d done it at home in London!

We were lucky. Some couples who make this decision are met with families who disapprove and loved ones who can’t make it for whatever reason. Things can be challenging planning a wedding from a long way away where you can’t see things in person. Culture and language barriers can also be an issue. However, my advice to couples who dream of a destination wedding would be – DO IT! It was amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Here are some hints and tips for any couples preparing to navigate the sometimes complicated business of planning a wedding abroad.

❤️ It’s your day! Please, please remember this every step of the way. It’s so important to have the wedding that you and your partner want; not what everyone else wants. This still applies when the wedding is abroad. You may get a few eyes rolls or grumbles but just politely explain to everyone that this is your dream day and they will soon come round.

❤️ Having said that, you will need to accept that some people won’t be able to make it. Potentially some important people who you would never have imagined wouldn’t be at your wedding. Expense, time off work, children and even more unforeseeable things like health can effect people’s ability to attend. If the idea that every single member of your extended family and friendship circle has to be there then getting married abroad possibly isn’t for you.

❤️ Be sensible. If you’re choosing a beach wedding in a baking hot location then you chose it for a reason – hopefully you are a bride who wants quite a relaxed/beachy vibe?? I wore a loose fitting dress and flat sandals. A ballgown style and pair of Jimmy Choo’s would not have been appropriate. Equally, please don’t force your hubby to be into a 3 peice suit and tie in 30 degree heat!! Same applies for guests. They need to be comfortable so don’t impose a strict dress code.

❤️ Make the most of the scenery. You are in a beautiful place, you have hired a photographer – use the beauty to your advantage! Looking back on photographs is one of the best things after the wedding and you can treasure them forever. In my opinion having something different as the backdrop is truly special. We even went for a photoshoot the next day underwater in our wedding outfits which was truly amazing! I love looking at the pictures.

❤️ Use a planner. I cannot stress this enough! Some, very brave, couples do attempt to co-ordinate their weddings from the UK but I just could not deal with the stress of it! We used Zante Weddings, the longest running and most experienced wedding planner in Zante, and they couldn’t have been better. Having someone who is a) in the country to liase with vendors b) speaks the language and c) actually knows all the best companies on the island was invaluable. I definitely couldn’t have done it myself. Frances, the owner of the planners, was fantastic and managed to get everything we wanted and more.

TRUST YOUR PLANNER. If you are hiring a local wedding planner then you must trust them to organise your big day. I understand it can be hard to relinquish control of the more special day of your life but it’s important to remember that they have done this before. 100 times. They seriously know what they are doing. When having your wedding abroad there are certain things that you just can’t micro manage to the same level as you can in the UK; e.g. you can’t taste the cake flavours, see the exact colour of the table cloths or choose every single individual flower for your bouquet. This isn’t for everyone, but I loved having the stress of a million decisions being taken out of my hands. We gave our planners a vague theme and colour scheme and they delivered flowers, décor and food which was better than we ever could have imagined. Choose your planner carefully and trust them to give you your perfect day.

Relax and enjoy. Chances are, you decided to tie the knot abroad to avoid some of the usual stresses and strains that come with a UK wedding – so make sure you actually chill out and enjoy yourself! Not only are you having your dream wedding day and marrying the love of your life – but you’re also combining it with a gorgeous holiday. I was sunbathing and doing yoga by the pool the morning of my wedding! You, your hubby and all your guests will be on a holiday high and what could be more amazing than a giant holiday with family and friends. Have a ball.

I hope these tips help any couples thinking of taking the plunge and getting married somewhere other than the UK. From one bride to another; you won’t regret it!

I have by no means seen every beautiful beach in the world – there are still so many on my list!- but I have been to a lot of beaches. Here is a round up of the most stunning ones I have visited in my life. All of them were pure, virtually unspoilt paradise.

Belle Mare, Mauritius.

One year ago we were here, and it’s particularly special because we got engaged on this beach! Belle Mare is one of the quieter resorts in Mauritius and the country is so chilled and generally unspoilt by tourism. Nothing but miles and miles of white sand, crystal clear water and the odd water sports centre. Also it’s mainly couples so not many young families if you’re after a less hectic vibe. Blissful.

Whitehaven beach, East Coast Australia.

Often coined the most beautiful beach in the world because, well, look at it! A tiny strip of powdery white sand so pure you can clean your teeth with it (true story) and the bluest blue shallow warm water. WOW. Only accessible by boat I exploring the island on foot and also viewed it from the air and it was totally stunning and lived up to its reputation. Only criticism is that, as it is so famous, it can get very busy. But what can you do! When you’re this beautiful your bound to get a lot of attention.

Long Beach, Koh Lanta Thailand.

The clue is in the name – a long sandy beach with beautiful shallow waters perfect for chilling and paddling! One of he quieter beaches in Lanta with less large resorts and more small beach huts so it’s got a nice ‘hippy’ vibe. I spent a lovely week here and it was my favourite Thai island for many reasons; the food, the people, but mainly the beautiful beach.

Cameo Island, Zakynthos

Okay yes it’s not exactly a beach, more like a cove BUT it’s got sea and a bit of sand and it’s totally stunning. And how could I not pick the place where I became Mrs Erler?! It may not be an endless sandy beach like the tradiontal famous beaches but there’s a reason why it’s one of, if not the most, popular wedding venues in Greece. It’s rustic; a small island only reachable by a rickety bridge and a stone staircase. Proper romantic. The sea is blue and warm and the shingle gives it a really bohemian feel. The best bit is it faces away from the land so all you can see from the bay is the open sea and the odd boat.  A perfect wedding venue, but also beautiful to visit on your holidays.

As you can tell – I love beaches! Can’t wait to explore more.  Where is your favourite beach in the world?

xox

If you are getting married abroad or having a beach wedding a San Unity Ceremony is a real cute and popular addition to the ceremony. We didn’t have a religious ceremony and the civil ceremonies in Greece are very short, just a few lines and the exchanging of the rings; it would be over in a few minutes! The Sand Ceremony was an add on that our planners offered and as Paul and I are total beach bums we thought it would be a nice touch and was very ‘us’.

The couple are given a vial of sand each, and take it in turns to pour it into a larger, decorative vase. It’s actually very symbolic and as your pour the sand the registrar reads words explaining how your sand is now mixed together forever, as one, never to be separated, which represents how you have become one person in your marriage and will be bound together forever. The words meant a lot to us and we were so glad we decided to have it.

If your planner doesn’t do it or you’re not using a planner you can get the vials of sand easily online, or more mean fully you could easily collect the sand yourself. If your weddings isn’t beachy I really like the idea of doing it privately on the honeymoon, like some people plant love trees, to cement your bond and you can use sand from that special place and remember your honeymoon forever.

Plus you get to keep the vase as well which is a lovely memento and looks cute in our living room.

xox

It’s no secret that I absolutely love my holidays. I spend an ungodly amount of my wages on squeezing in breaks here and there and it’s not an exaggeration to say that holidays is what Paul and I live for. This post is about THE BEST holiday we ever had, staying in this stunning villa on the Greek island of Zakynthos.

I mean.. look at it..

There is something truly special about not sharing your vacation. Having a pool all to yourself, waking up in the morning and doing yoga on the terrace, cooking and having your own space and peace and quiet was total bliss.

Artina Villa, Zakynthos is a stunning new build luxury villa on top of a cliff with panoramic views of the turquoise waters of Keri bay. It has 3 bedrooms, a large garden and this amazing infinity pool.  The interior is super stylish and they have truly thought of everything, the comfiest mattresses; a Bluetooth sound system; posh coffee machine; kitchen gadgets and even a hammock all to make you feel totally spoilt.  The owners even leave a welcome basket and fill the fridge up with generous supplies and some of their home grown and made produce. True Greek hospitality at it’s best.

We spent a week in this paradise. Venturing down to the small village of Keri occasionally to sample the local restaurants or small shops, however most of the time we stayed in the villa. It was a fair distance uphill from the town and beach which was walk-able (for the reasonably fit) but I would definitely advise a hiring a car for a hidden gem like this one!

For  a little slice of holiday heaven I cannot recommend this place enough. If, like me, you find villa holidays a bit extra special then it is the perfect place. And if you have a group then the price can be devided and is often not as bad as you think. Villa vacations are where it’s at!

I love using the Home Away app to see what other amazing villas there are in beautiful Mediterranean locations. 

xox