Shipwreck (Navagio) Beach
Our rating is based on our actual visit to the beach. Give your own rating and review it.
- Beach berm:
- Water rating: 5/5 about
Boat = Accessible by boat only
NONE, bring your own drinking water and food
The day-cruise boats that take bathers to the beach have a bar and serve lunch, but you might want to pack your own picnic for the day. Make sure you get enough water, and don't forget your parasol and snorkeling gear!
- RV / Camper Accessibility:
is unsuitable for RV parking
- Water Sports
No water sports available on the beach
Topless is common
Good snorkeling site
Even if you haven't been to Greece, you have undoubtedly seen the posters of Shipwreck beach somewhere, and just from the photographs, you probably thought "I'd love to be there someday". Those who have been there would testify that it's just as beautiful as the photographs, and even better. They undoubtedly think that they would love to go back.
A photograph can barely approximate the visual harmony of the landscape; it's only a facsimile of the real sunlight that bathes everything, and it doesn't even get close to transmitting the sensation of sun rays on the skin, the cool breeze, and the play of hues between turquoise and azure.
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who would argue that Navagio beach is not one of the best beaches of Greece, and that's because it is that spectacular of a place. The water is perfectly cool, the coarse sand warm and inviting, and the cliffs engulf you in a perfectly proportioned warm embrace.
But the subtle beauty of Shipwreck beach is how it transcends our own human time into grander geological proportions in a very succinct and clear manner. The limestone cliffs erode to transform into an inviting white beach, and the decaying shipwreck is there to make the whole process visible. Mentally, the isolation and the shipwreck emanate feelings of adventure and romance. It has this "deserted island adventure" sort of feeling, in a safe kind of way.
There is no way to get to Navagio beach on foot. There is a lesser known goat path that leads to the top of the cliff behind the beach, but there is no way to get to the sand from there. The task of building a road or steps to the beach does not seem prohibitive, but absence of easy access supports an entire industry of day-cruises that's very lucrative and provides work for many people around the island. Better yet, it keeps all development away and the beach as pure as possible.
You can reach the beach by boat from Zakynthos town, or from Alykes where you can book a day-cruise. The cruises include a larger tour around the island, the highlight of which is a one-hour stop at Shipwreck beach. These boats are large and comfortable, although they do get packed with passengers, so your space would be limited. Get to the boat early and find a good place for your company to sit, knowing that most of the land will be to port-side pretty much the entire trip.
Another option that's highly recommended, is to drive to Cape Skinari, at the very top of the island. There is a nice lighthouse and and a restaurant there, and you can get a smaller boat to sail to the Blue Caves and to the Shipwreck beach. There is a kiosk right at the edge of the water where the Potamitis brothers operate smaller boats to the coastal attractions around the area. This travel guide does not make specific recommendations for vendors, hotels, or restaurants unless we had an exceptional experience, and we certainly are not affiliated with the operation at Cape Skinari.
There are two advantages to choosing a boat at Cape Skinari instead of the larger cruise boats from Zakynthos town or Alykes: you have a short five-minute ride to the blue caves that are just around the corner, and a much shorter ride to Navagio beach (about half the distance from Alykes, and 1/5 the distance from Zakynthos town, so you minimize your time on board. Also, their smaller boats can fit right into the caves and sail closer to the shore.
The only drawback is that you have to drive to Cape Skinari from where you are. When we visited, there weren't any other tourists, so we had the whole boat to ourselves and one of the brothers who was driving the boat let us snorkel from cave to cave while he followed us with the boat. If you go that route, remember to bring your own water and food for the day because at cape Skinari your options will be limited to what's available at the lone restaurant (if it's open).
All the boats arrive at Navagio beach after 10:00 AM and unload hundreds of people on the beach. Crowding is not a problem though because there is plenty of space for everyone. If you have your own boat, you'll have the beach to yourself before the boats arrive, but most of the beach is still in shade and the sun rays don't cover the whole area until about noon.
The shipwreck is an old coaster named "Panagiotis". Legend has it that it was a smuggling ship that capsized on the beach in 1980 while unloading its cargo of contraband cigarettes - apparently a regular activity on the isolated beach -, or while being pursued by the Hellenic Coast Guard depending on the story you read. That's how the beach has acquired the nickname "smugglers cove".
Today, the shipwreck's badly corroded shell is embedded firmly in the center of the beach and it's a popular tourist attraction. It's so perfectly placed at the center of the beach that there is a rumor that the Hellenic Ministry of Culture (overseeing tourism) planted it there. Knowing a thing or two about Greek government, I think whoever came up with this rumor grossly overestimated the ingenuity of Greek government officials, especially the ones who man the Ministry of Culture top offices. Besides, planting a boat in the middle of a beach is not exactly a quiet, simple, or cheap operation to go unnoticed, and no Greek politician would be able to resist boasting about conceiving such a plan.
Despite numerous signs warning of danger, bathers regularly approach and explore the wreck. There is a large opening on it's port side now and one can easily walk right in. Climbing around is not advised though because the steel plates have been weathered down to paper thin size in places by now, and many spots can't support much weight. The boat has been there for over thirty years and the iron haul will continue to biodegrade as part of the natural recycling process. It will probably be visible for another thirty years above the sand so many more visitors will get to enjoy it.
- Have you been to Navagio? Tell us what you think about this beach