Shipwrecked on Navagio – the most photographed beach on Zante

This is the beach that features on practically every postcard of Zante. You’ve probably seen it in glossy coffee table books featuring beautiful shots of Greece. It regularly gets a mention on those lists of “best beaches in the world“. This is the beach that’s known on the Greek island of Zakynthos as Navagio, but to tourists as Shipwreck beach or Smuggler’s cove.

Navagio or Shipwreck cove on Zante, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Navagio or Shipwreck cove on Zante, Greece

Navagio is certainly one of the most photogenic beaches in Greece. That rusty old wreck, stranded on the crescent of pale sand, framed by the steep limestone cliffs and the turquoise sea, make a winning photographic combination. You can get that postcard shot yourself, from a metal platform that juts out from the cliff above the beach, where you’ll also find a taverna, ice cream van and stalls selling local honey and souvenirs. A couple of years ago I stood on the metal platform and took the postcard shot you see above, but on this summer’s visit to Zante I thought it was about time that I paid the Shipwreck beach a personal visit.

Boat trip from Makris Gialos on Zante, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boat trip from Makris Gialos on Zante, Greece

The only way that you can set foot on Shipwreck beach is by boat and most of the boat trips around the north end of Zakynthos will take you there. We didn’t fancy one of the full day “round the island” trips that go from Zante town, as these tend to be larger boats and a whole day in the sun and on the waves could be too much of a good thing. We decided instead to drive further north to where the smaller boats go on frequent trips from either St Nicholas port or Makris Gialos, a small beach that is just before the St Nicholas port on the north-east tip of Zakynthos.

There’s a little kiosk beside the road at Makris Gialos and from there we booked for a 2-3 hour trip on a speedboat that would take around 20 people. The lady at the kiosk warned us that the sea around the Shipwreck beach was quite rough today, so the boat might not be able to take us right up to the beach. “You don’t get sea-sick?” she asked and we all shook our heads, looking out at the gently lapping waves on the beach and wondering how there could possibly be a problem.

Navagio or Shipwreck cove on Zante, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from the boat of Shipwreck beach on Zante, Greece

The boat powered away from the jetty and as soon as we were clear of land the captain, a wiry Greek with an all over tan and a cigarette glued in his hand, opened the throttle and the nose of the speedboat rose into the air. At first the speed and spray felt thrilling and the girls clambered onto the front of the boat to sun themselves in their bikinis. However as the boat rounded the northernmost point of the island and entered unprotected waters, the sea became more choppy and the speedboat was banging up and down onto the waves.

The girls scrambled for the safety of their seats behind the captain and we all clung on, wishing that he would slow down a little. By the time Shipwreck bay came into sight around 40 minutes from leaving the beach, we were all feeling distinctly queasy and wished that we could get off the boat.  Now we were close to the Shipwreck beach and the captain skillfully manouvred the speedboat as close to shore as he could, so that we could make the short swim to shore for a closer look.

Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos, Greece

Despite the swell, we all managed to swim ashore, although a large wave knocked me off my feet and tumbled me round like a washing machine, sending seawater up my nose and dropping me spluttering into the shallows with a bikini full of gravel. Because we couldn’t bring our towels or picnic from the boat, we just walked around to look at the rusty hull of the ship and the girls lay at the water’s edge being washed by the surf. The boat was supposedly smuggling cigarettes when it went aground in the 1980s although that could just be a story the Greeks tell to give it a dramatic twist for the tourists.

The hull was broken open with a shady place to sit in the sand beneath and had corroded away to make a lacework of holes in the side through which I could look back to our group on the sand. I didn’t dare attempt to bring my I-Phone through the surf to take any photos, but my niece Sophia gave hers to the captain who put it in a plastic bag and swam one-armed with it above his head until he judged the swell just right and scrambled ashore. I borrowed Sophia’s phone to take these pictures of the shipwreck from the beach, and then after around 30 minutes we all swam back to the boat which was pitching back and forth in the swell.

On Navagio or Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

On Navagio or Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos, Greece

It was a bit grim speeding back around the northern point of the island, as we all felt sea-sick and the captain showed no mercy with the speed of the boat. He seemed intent on getting back as quickly as possible, as the seas tend to get rougher as the day goes on. Once we were around the point the sea calmed and the captain slowed down as we neared the second part of our boat trip, a visit to the sea caves known as the Blue Caves. We had swum in similar sea caves on last year’s boat trip from Agios Sostis around Laganas bay where we had spotted some loggerhead or Caretta Caretta turtles that nest on the southern beaches of Zante. The captain nosed the boat into a couple of the sea caves to show us the intense sparkling blue colour of the water in the caves that gives them their name, then we anchored for a while to give everyone a chance to swim and snorkel.

Boat trip to the Blue Caves on Zante Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boat trip to the Blue Caves on Zante

After around 30 minutes at the caves, we started back to the beach and this time the ride was much more leisurely and pleasant, so that by the time we docked we had all but forgotten the sea-sickness we felt before. I highly recommend a boat trip to Shipwreck Beach if you want to see a unique side of Zante but I’d also recommend that you heed the warnings of the locals if they tell you that the sea is too rough, as it may be deceptively calm on one side of the island but much rougher on the other side if the wind is high.

Tips if you’d like to take this boat trip

  • We took the boat trip from Makris Gialos, where there is a kiosk by the road above the beach and a small shop and taverna.
  • Other options are to take a similar boat trip from St Nicholas Port, on the north-east coast of Zakynthos where a number of different boats do the same 2-3 hour trip, or to book a full day ‘Round the Island’ trip from Zante town or from other resorts on the island. Some boat trips will also take you just to the Blue Caves which is a shorter 1.5 hour trip and may be better if you don’t like rough seas.
  • Our 2.5-3 hour boat trip cost €20 per person although you may be able to negotiate a discount if you have a group of 6 or more.
  • You should take a look at the boat to ensure that it has full shade and consider the size of the boat. For this trip a boat that takes 15-20 people is best as it will be small enough to get into the Blue Caves and to get close to Shipwreck Beach. A larger boat may be more stable but you may not be able to get close to the beach.
  • The Blue Caves are on the north-east side of the island where the sea is much calmer, while Shipwreck beach is on the north-west side where the sea is rough. Take local advice on the best day to go when the sea is not too rough and if you are prone to sea-sickness, you may want to consider medication or not go to the Shipwreck Beach but just do the trip to the Blue Caves.
  • If you are based at the southern end of Zakynthos as we were at Argassi, you may want to try a turtle spotting boat trip instead that will take you thorough Laganas Bay to spot for turtles, followed by swimming around the sea caves at Keri.

More tales from Zante

 Jetting off to Zante with Jet2.com
Sunshine, beaches and freddoccinos – my week on Zante in Instagram photos
Is this the best beach in the world? – Navagio on Zante

Jet2.comThanks to Jet2.com for providing flights for Heather’s trip to Zakynthos, Greece. Jet2.com runs weekly  flights to Zante from Manchester and Leeds Bradford and flights from many other local UK airports to your favourite holiday destinations. You can follow Jet2.com updates on their Facebook page

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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  • Reply
    Mark H
    July 22, 2013 at 1:55 am

    I can see why it is so photographed…
    Mark H´s last blog post ..Photo of the Week: Gressoney Saint Jean (Italy)

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      July 22, 2013 at 8:33 am

      @Mark Yes, I think more so even since the internet is so full of those lists of “100 best” accompanied by lovely photos

  • Reply
    Try New Things
    July 22, 2013 at 3:13 am

    You inspire me! I have been following you for a long time and just last October I left my job…semi-retired except for my fun stuff…and now I am travelling around the world seeing all the things I could only see from the sidelines. I will definitely add this beach to my travels. Thank!

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      July 22, 2013 at 8:32 am

      @Kelly So pleased that you enjoyed the article – I recommend Zakynthos if you get back to Greece

  • Reply
    Shalu Sharma
    July 22, 2013 at 9:24 am

    The beach is stunning beautiful with its clear blue waters, really nice. Lovely place to go on holiday.
    Shalu Sharma´s last blog post ..My India travel survival guide for women ebook now available on Amazon

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      July 23, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      @Shalu There are so many beautiful beaches on Zante

  • Reply
    Barbara Weibel
    July 22, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    OMG, I would NOT want to do that trip. I get seasick on a river on a blustery day. But I have to say the photos were gorgeous – you’re all brave souls.
    Barbara Weibel´s last blog post ..PHOTO: Stunning architecture in Bath, England, which also has ancient Roman ruins and the country’s only natural hot springs

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      July 23, 2013 at 12:28 am

      @Barbara I’m glad I made the trip but I did feel a bit sick on the way – perhaps one of those trips that is better in the memory than at the time.

  • Reply
    July 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Wow. I’s no surprise this is one of the most photographed beaches in the world…it’s absolutely stunning! I was surprised not to see any beach goers besides your group in the photographs, it seems like this place would get overrun quite regularly.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      July 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      @Jenn The reason there aren’t too many people there is that you can only reach this beach by boat and on the day we were there the sea was quite rough so I think that put some people off.

  • Reply
    July 31, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    There is a reason that this beach keeps showing up in photographs. It’s beautiful. The boat trip sounds amazing.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I visited Zakynthos in 2009.It is such a beautiful island!!!I definitely want to visit it again. We went to Navagio beach, it was absolutely stunning!!!The water was so cold and so clear!!!But it was pretty windy, like the day you visited it.The sand was white and the cliffs around made you feel like a cast away…it was amazing!!We fortunately had rent a car , during our stay there. Hiring a car enabled us to visit many truly beautiful spots and get away from the touristy places.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Greece looks breathtaking!I am planning on visiting Greece very soon. My travel agent has been trying to book me tickets with Lufthansa. I travel only with Lufthansa because they are extremely luxurious and worth every penny i spend on my traveling. Hopefully, i should be getting my tickets to Greece soon.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Heather, thanks for the beautiful pictures of Navagio! I’m glad I discovered your blog as I’m planning a trip to Greece (Santorini!) next summer, and now I think I have to add this to the itinerary. Thank you for the inspiration. Can’t wait to visit Shipwrecked Beach!

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      October 10, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      @Olivia It’s certainly a beautiful and unusual beach to visit

  • Reply
    Johan Miles
    December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    @Olivia I think greek islands are offering plenty of beautiful sights. Santorini is a Great island with a wonderful sunset but in my personal opinion Zakynthos is way more beautiful.

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