Zante, lying a short distance (about 9.5 nautical miles) off the north-western tip of the Peloponnese and south of the islands of (Corfu) Kerkira, Kefalonia, Ithaki (Ithaca), Paxi and Lefkada, is the sixth of the seven Ionian isles known in Greek as the Eptanissa. It is separated from Kefalonia, its nearest neighbour in the north, by an 8.5 mile s wide strait, and lies about 153 miles from Piraeus, and 52 miles or so from Patras .
Zante is the shape of an irregular triangle, leaning a little to the left so that its apex points north-west, and with a sizeable bite out of its base line. The island' s coastline measures 92 km. and its surface area approximately 418 square kilometers. The right side of the triangle, from the northern Skinari shore to the south at Marathias, is roughly 34km. long, and the left, the south-eastern side to Gerakas, about 37km.
The north-west coastline of the island is steep and rocky, but the eastern side is rather more gentle and has several bays. The south-easterly base of the triangle has the biggest bay and the largest of the island's beaches, the 9km long Laganas Beach.
Three-quarters of the surface of Zante is covered with low mountains, the highest of which is Mt Vrahfonas at 758m. The Skopos mountain (483m) is of particular interest, because here stood a temple to Artemis in ancient times. It is now the site of the church of the Panaghfa (Virgin) Skopidtissa, the only church in western Greece with a cross laid out in its foundations, a sign that it is under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, not the domain of the local bishop.
Of the other Zante mountains, the highest are Makria Rahi, Strongilf Korphi, Stanfllou, Kedros, Kakavouli, Merovigli, Kakavaki, Megalo Vound, and others. The most important valleys are Aghii Theoddroi, Louhins, Petritis (with 60 wells), Yiri, Kato Vrahionas, Ambelos, Malakol, and Palidkastro, among athers. The most extensive plains are the plain of Pigadakia, Katastari, Kato Agalas, and Gaitani. There are no rivers on the island, although the winter rains form at times torrential courses known as Ai Haralambos, Hamouzas, Alikes, Laganas etc. Zante used to have several small lakes which, though they have dried up now, still collect water in the rainy season. There are plenty of wells and springs on the island, for instance in the Vitsari region (village of Belousi), in the Perivolari locality (Yerakari village), in Kanalis near the fortress, and at Vrissakia (Nerantzoules).
Some times in the very distant past, Zante formed part of the sea floor. It was raised above the surface of the water by repeated geological upheavals. In the sea southeast of today's island is what geologists call the 'Pit of Inoussae', which is the deepest point (4,404m) in all of the Mediterranean basin. The vast geological upheavals in this area also created many small islets around Zante as well as cliffs and reefs, and also had an effect on the rocky coast lines. As a result, there are a large number of caves on the Zante shores, such as Drakospilia (dragon cave), Melissa (bee), Megali Spilia (big cave), Anthrdpini Spilia (people's cave), Palid Monastiri (old monastery), Aghios Gerasimos (St. Gerasimo's), HayiOtis and others which are very interesting to visit. The best-known of the caves is the Galazia Spilia (blue cave) discovered in 1897, at Aspros Vrachos (white rock), north-east of the Skinari headland. The Galazia Spilia is in fact two interconnected caves, which derived their name from the colour of the water there, and from the fact that any object put into the water also turns blue.
Other unusual geological features of Zante are the various medicinal sulphur springs at Tetartfa close to Gerakari village, at Kolossourtis near the Alikdn bay, at Vromoneri or Nera Kareri, at Paliohdra and elsewhere. There are afso two bitumen wells in lake Nafthi (or lake Keri) at the south-western end of the island, where the water emerges mixed with bitumen. Similar bitumen springs exist in other places on the island too, but neither the quantity nor the quality of any of them warrant commercial exploitation.