Navagio Beach, Shipwreck Beach or Smugglers Cove?
The most famous attraction on Zakynthos has several names – all of them being very much to the point. The rusty red shipwreck that is stranded in the chalky white sand is probably the most photographed spot on the entire island. It is not that strange, cause surrounded by steep rock walls and some of the most intense turquoise water I have ever seen, it is quite a spectacular sight – a sight that attracts a lot (!) of tourists. So if you believe that you are going to visit an empty beach, as it looks like in all the pretty pictures in the brochures, well, think again…
Getting to Shipwreck Beach…
…is not as easy as it might sound. There are places where you can rent a boat and sail out there yourself. Unless you have a lot of sailing experience, I will NOT recommend this. The high number of boats transporting tourists in and out of the fairly small bay makes it very difficult to navigate around without hitting anything (or anyone). There are not any piers as well, meaning that the boats have to sail as close to land as possible to drop off the tourists, and then return to the open water to drop the anchor, until it is pick up time again.
Luckily there are lots of organized trips you can join. Be aware that this is one of the most popular activities on the island, and that they tend to sell out well in advance.
On an organized trip
We chose the easy solution and bought an organized trip. We would have liked to do it through the travel agency that we traveled with, but it had sold out. Instead we bought this trip at Viator.com.
We were picked up by a minibus at our hotel in Laganas in the morning, which drove us to a meeting point where we should board a much larger bus with 50-60 other people and our English speaking guide. In the description of this trip it is highlighted that it is with a small group. We therefore wondered why we were so many people on board that bus. Later on, our guide told us that it is common that people arrive at Shipwreck Beach on boats with 2-300 people. Suddenly, our group didn’t seem so large after all…
The winding mountain roads led us to the small harbor in Porto Vromi. Here we boarded our boat and sailed out to the beautiful Shipwreck Beach. On the way you pass the rough rocky coast, and it doesn’t seem likely that this is the way to a popular and picture perfect beach – but suddenly you are there!
A good story and lots of tourists
We arrived before noon, before most of the other tourists. That wasn’t something I would have guessed if our guide hadn’t told us, cause there was still a large number of people there. Our guide told us that some afternoons, you are not even able to see the sand for towels. Luckily, that was not the case while we were there. We had an hour on the beach where we could take a dip (which were harder than it sounds, as the waves were fairly large, and the boats sailed very close to the shore), and take pictures of the (very rusty) shipwreck. Let me be honest: It ain’t that pretty. The shipwreck that is. But it is a remarkable contrast to the white sand and a reminder of how tough the nature can be.
The story says that the shipwreck is a ship that smuggled cigarettes that stranded here in 1980 after a storm – something that didn’t go unnoticed by the locals who saw their chance to have a closer look at the cargo. If this is true or not, is still at debate. It is a fact that no one wanted to use resources to remove the ship again, and over time it evolved into the popular tourist attraction that it is today. Now there is absolutely no reason to remove it, as it it the most popular attraction on the entire island.
The face of Poseidon and lunch with a view
After an hour at the beach it was time to get back on our boat. On the way back to Porto Vromi we sailed close to the rocky coast to see the amazingly blue colors the ocean has here. We also made a short stop to see the face of Poseidon, that apparently can be seen in the cliffs. If you look closely you can see him look into the water.
The trip also included a lunch stop in the small village of Mariés in the mountains. In a family owned restaurant with the most amazing view of the landscape, we had a lovely Greek meal. All very tasty and at a very fair price.
All in all we had a great day where we could tick Shipwreck Beach of our to-do-list. If you are not a fan of other tourists, then this is not a place for you to visit. But if you are capable of looking beyond all the selfie sticks, i don’t think you should miss the experience of seeing this remarkably beautiful piece of nature that Zakynthos is very famous for.
Great advise if you are going to Shipwreck Beach
- At Shipwreck Beach you will find absolutely nothing – except for the shipwreck and all the other people of course. Here are no toilets, no umbrellas and no possibility to buy food and drinks. Make sure you have plenty of water with you, sunscreen and some snacks if necessary. In Porto Vromi (where the boat trip out to Shipwreck Beach starts – at least on this trip), you can buy some cold things to drinks, in case you haven’t brought it with you.
- If you have difficulties walking, I will not recommend you to go to Shipwreck Beach. First of all, the road leading down to the harbor in Porto Vromi is so steep, that the bus cannot go all the way. This means that you have to walk a short but very (!) steep way in order to get to the boat. Second of all, there is no place where the boat can dock at Shipwreck Beach, meaning that you have to climb down a latter and jump down onto the beach. This can be quite a challenge if the waves are high – and that they are often. Sometimes you are not even permitted to go into the beach, because it is too dangerous to jump off the boat.
- If you would like to avoid the crowds (to the extent possible), then go on a trip that takes you there before noon. On this time of the day, the temperature is also more pleasant in the summer months.
- Last, but not least, DON’T climb on the shipwreck. A lot of people do it, but since the ship has been there for more than 30 years, it is simply stupid and dangerous. If you get injured, there is a long way to the hospital! I suggest you use your time there more wisely and simply enjoy the beautiful bay. But remember your sunglasses, cause the turquoise water and the extremely white sand is hard not to be blinded by.
Visited in July 2016
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