Why is Zakynthos famous for its Shipwreck Beach, also known as Navagio, and what is the story behind the stranded ship?

Zakynthos is a beautiful Greek island in the Ionian Sea, known for its stunning beaches, lush greenery and rich culture. But one of its most iconic attractions is the Shipwreck Beach, also called Navagio, which means “shipwreck” in Greek. This beach is not only famous for its turquoise waters and white sand, but also for the mysterious shipwreck that lies on the shore, creating a striking contrast with the natural scenery.

But how did this ship end up on this secluded cove? And what makes this beach so special and popular among tourists and locals alike? In this blog post, we will explore the history and the beauty of Zakynthos’ Shipwreck Beach, and give you some tips on how to visit this amazing place.

The history of the shipwreck

The ship that rests on the beach is called MV Panagiotis, and it was a coaster that was built in 1937 in Scotland. It had various names and owners throughout its life, until it was bought by a Greek company in 1975 and renamed Panagiotis. According to some sources, the ship was involved in smuggling cigarettes from Turkey to Italy in 1980, when it encountered a storm and bad visibility near Zakynthos. The Greek Navy was chasing the ship, and the captain tried to escape by sailing close to the coast. However, he lost control of the vessel and ran aground on the cove that was then known as Agios Georgios (Saint George).

The crew abandoned the ship and fled to the nearby village of Anafotiria, where they were later arrested by the authorities. Some locals also looted the cargo and the equipment from the wrecked ship, and 29 of them were convicted for this crime. The ship was left on the beach, where it gradually became buried in the sand and surrounded by rocks. The beach was renamed Navagio after the shipwreck, and it soon became a tourist attraction and a symbol of Zakynthos.

The beauty of the beach

Navagio Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, and perhaps in the world. It is located on the northwest coast of Zakynthos, in a secluded cove that is surrounded by towering cliffs of white limestone. The beach has soft white sand and crystal clear water that reflects the blue sky. The shipwreck adds a touch of mystery and adventure to the landscape, creating a unique contrast between nature and human intervention.

The beach is accessible only by boat, which makes it even more exclusive and attractive. There are many boat tours that depart from various ports of Zakynthos, such as Porto Vromi, Agios Nikolaos or Zakynthos Town. The boat ride takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the departure point, and it offers spectacular views of the coastline and the sea caves along the way. The boat tours usually stop at Navagio Beach for about an hour, giving visitors enough time to swim, sunbathe, take photos and explore the shipwreck.

The best time to visit

Navagio Beach is open all year round, but the best time to visit is between May and October, when the weather is warm and sunny, and the sea is calm and clear. The peak season is July and August, when the beach can get very crowded with tourists from all over the world. If you want to avoid the crowds, you can visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when most of the boats have left. You can also visit in spring or autumn, when there are fewer visitors and lower prices.

Another factor to consider is the light conditions. The best time to take photos of Navagio Beach is around noon, when the sun is directly above the cove and illuminates it with bright light. However, this can also create harsh shadows and glare on your camera lens. If you want softer light and more contrast, you can take photos in the morning or evening, when the sun is lower on the horizon and casts a golden glow on the beach.

The best view points

Navagio Beach can be seen from two different perspectives: from above or from below. From above, you can admire the aerial view of the beach from a platform that is located on top of one of the cliffs. This platform can be reached by car or bus from Anafotiria village or Volimes town. There is a sign that says “Navagio” and a small parking lot near the platform. From there, you can walk to the edge of the cliff and enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the beach and the sea. Be careful, though, as there is no fence or guardrail on the platform, and the cliff is very steep and dangerous.

From below, you can see the beach from a boat, as we mentioned before. This way, you can get closer to the shipwreck and appreciate its details and dimensions. You can also swim in the water and feel the sand under your feet. However, you should be aware that swimming near the shipwreck can be risky, as there may be sharp metal pieces or nails on the bottom of the sea. You should also avoid climbing on the shipwreck, as it is unstable and rusty.

The conclusion

Navagio Beach is one of the most famous and beautiful beaches in Zakynthos, and a must-see attraction for anyone who visits this island. It combines natural beauty, historical intrigue and adventurous spirit, making it a unique and unforgettable destination. Whether you see it from above or from below, you will be amazed by its stunning scenery and its fascinating story. If you are looking for a place to relax, have fun and take amazing photos, Navagio Beach is the perfect choice for you.