Bay of Navagio
The picturesque bay of Navagio is located on the Greek island of Zakynthos, in the Ionian Sea off the southwestern coast of mainland Hellas. It is one of the most attractive and romantic corners of the Mediterranean.
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Video: Navagio Cove
The crescent-shaped beach with pure white sand and oval pebbles honed by the surf is surrounded by an amphitheater of white limestone cliffs that protrude far into the sea. These rocks look like stone palms, in which the island carefully holds its treasure – a small strip of pebble beach and a bay with clear water. Depending on the time of day and brightness, the sea reveals shades of luxurious gems. The water is emerald in the morning, sapphire in the daytime, and acquires a blue-green hue by evening, this is the color artists call aquamarine.
Navagio Bay opens to the west and here, as in an authentic natural theater, every evening there is a spectacular spectacle – the sunset descending into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The majestic scenery of this evening action is the white cliffs, the rays of the setting sun color them in pink and purple.
On the world tourist map of the bay appeared due to a shipwreck, which occurred here about 40 years ago. In fact, “navagio” in Greek means “shipwreck”. Since then, on the shingle beach lies the small merchant ship “Panayiotis”, once washed ashore by the waves of an autumn Mediterranean storm. In any other place the rusty carcass of the ship would look like an unattractive pile of scrap metal, but here, among the steep cliffs, this victim of shipwreck looks unexpectedly organic and even touching. This is why the beach of Shipwreck is always one of the five most photographed beaches not only on Zakynthos but on all the Greek islands in the Mediterranean.
Navagio Beach’s 2018 Velvet season was marred by a rockfall that collapsed on the afternoon of September 13 right onto the beach, crowded with sunbathers. Fortunately, there were no people in the area of the collapse. But several tourists were injured by flying debris and were taken to local hospitals. The beach was closed immediately. The specialists determined that the rocks had been washed away by the rains of the previous day. A month later the municipal authorities of the island reopened the beach to the public and an emergency boat is now permanently on duty in the Navagio bay.
History of Navagio Bay
There are many rumors associated with the history of the Navagio Bay shipwreck. They say that there were illegals on board, in addition, some of the cargo was smuggled. Local guides give various dates and even years of the shipwreck, and the country from where the ship departed, called Turkey.
Many years after the disaster, the ship’s captain, Haralambos Kotsoras, who became a celebrity in Greece, published his memoirs of the event. His memoirs state that the Panayiotis took on a cargo of cigarettes and other goods in the Albanian port of Durres and then headed for Italy. The ship was assigned to the Greek port of Piraeus, but the crew included Italian sailors. Whether the cargo was officially declared by the captain is not known, but it is likely that the cigarettes were contraband.
In early October 1980, the ship was caught in a storm off the coast of the island of Zakynthos. The ship’s engine failed, the ship lost control and hit underwater rocks. The sailor states that the Coast Guard ships did not chase him, he broadcast a distress signal and called for help to the rescuers, but the waves did not allow them to approach the damaged ship. As for the years-long trial, according to the captain’s version, it was carried out only because the locals had dismantled the goods on the shore, and many of them were found guilty of it. This seems to be true, for the islanders, from ancient times, have considered items discarded on the shore as their trophy and the gift of gracious fortune. Be that as it may, all that is known for certain is that the crew of the Panayotis escaped in lifeboats, and fortunately no one died in the raging waves. Now this dramatic event is called the most famous shipwreck in Greece, because the ship on the inaccessible beach has become a real hit of the tourist season on the island of Zakynthos.
A few years ago the bay of Navagio with the wreck became the natural setting for the filming of the Korean blockbuster “Children of the Sun”. The adventure film, which was successfully screened in cinemas in many Southeast Asian countries, unexpectedly became a great advertisement for this picturesque place, and now a lot of tourists from South Korea, Japan, China, and Thailand visit Zakynthos.
The Wreck of a Rusty Ship
The peculiarity of the beach is that it is inaccessible from the land. Vertical cliffs surrounding the Navagio Bay rise to a height of 100 to 300 meters, and travelers can only gingerly peer from above into the abyss at the bottom of which the beach is located. But there are desperate athletes who make mind-blowing parachute jumps off the cliff – base jumpers.
Every summer there is an international competition Summer BASE Jump Boogie. The timing of the competitions is determined by weather conditions and wind strength. The launching pad is equipped on a steep 200-meter cliff. The jumper has only two or three seconds to open the parachute.
For five days the best base jumpers from around the world make over 300 jumps. It is not a sight for the faint-hearted. Beach-goers watch the flights with bated breath and greet the landing daredevils with applause.
Base jumping is a dangerous sport; sometimes the competitions are accompanied by tragedies, causing horror to the observers of the mad flight. Such a tragedy happened in the Navagio Bay at the 2012 competition – the jumper’s parachute did not open and the athlete crashed.
Video: Basejumping in the Bay of Navagio
Wild beach in the bay of Navagio is not equipped in any way so as not to break its charm and natural beauty. We advise you to bring water and snacks, beach accessories and an umbrella – if before noon you can take shelter from the hot Mediterranean sun under the rocks, in the afternoon there is no shade.
At any time of the year, you can admire the beach of Shipwreck from above, from the vantage point located near the monastery of St. George. There is a convenient road and the bay is easy to find. Once you reach the village of Anafonitria, follow the arrows marked “Navagio”. At the fork near the monastery, turn right and the sign will lead you to the parking lot. At the crest of the cliff, walk a short distance to the viewpoint that overhangs the bay like a stone balcony. Here you’ll be amazed by the stunning panorama. But that’s not all. After enjoying the view, take the next step: a narrow pathway covered in junipers leads from the observation deck behind the nearest cliff. Many tourists do not pay attention to it. But follow it and you will get to the “secret” place, where you can take the best photos of Navagio Bay. You will immediately recognize the panorama that opens up – this is where the illustrations for the guidebooks on Zakynthos are taken.
Another recommendation: the beach of Navagio faces directly to the west. Seeing the stunning sunset and capturing it on photos or video is a must.
Finish this short trip with a tour of the ancient monastery of St. George and lunch at the village tavern of Anafonitria.
You can rent a car for a trip to Anafonitria through the hotel reception or online car booking service. The cost of renting a car on the island – from 20 € per day, with the end of the influx of tourists prices go down.
The beach season in Navagio Bay lasts from May to the end of September. The air temperature during this period ranges from +22. +32 ° C, the sea temperature ranges from +22 to +25 ° C.
Navagio Bay in the sunset
How to get there
There are two ways to see the romantic Navagio Bay. Since access is only from the sea, travelers arrive here by rented boats or by pleasure boats as part of a sightseeing program. The latter option involves a limited drop-off time for boat passengers at Navagio Beach, then tourists explore the neighboring beaches.
Agios Ioannis and Porto Vromi are the closest harbors where you can rent a boat to go to Navagio Beach. The swim will last about 20 minutes. If you are lucky, you can watch Caretta caretta turtles swim nimbly in the sea. These rare Mediterranean animals are protected by Greek environmental law.
During the off-season the nearby boat rentals are not working, but you can arrange a trip to Navagio Bay with one of the local fishermen. He will bring you to the beach and pick you up at the agreed time. It will be a bit cold to swim, but you can have a romantic picnic here to enjoy absolute solitude in this amazing place, crowded with vacationers in summer.
Shipwreck Beach (Navagio) on Zakynthos
Shipwreck Beach in Navagio Bay (Navagio) is the calling card of the Greek island of Zakynthos. The rusted ship looks spectacular and contrasting against the white rocks and the piercing blue sea.
The beach is surrounded on three sides by snow-white limestone cliffs. Cliffs reach a height of 225 meters. The highest point of the cliffs has an observation deck, which you can climb up using steep stairs. Descending to the beach from the rocks without climbing equipment is impossible.
The corroded hull of the ship is not protected by the island authorities. Anyone can leave a memorial inscription on its hull. The island authorities plan to limit access to the ship with fences. The Zakynthos authorities also plan to reconstruct the observation deck. According to a design reviewed in spring 2019, the new observation deck will be in the form of a horseshoe overhanging Navagio Beach, with a transparent floor. A café and restaurant, restrooms, ample parking, a museum and gift store will be built in the surrounding area. The innovations are related to safety measures: in September 2018 and March 2019 there were rock falls. A total of seven people were injured.
Panoramic bird’s-eye view of Zakynthos’ Navagio Beach:
Until the 1980s, the beach had a not-so-romantic pirate name. It was called “St. George’s Beach,” after the monastery located one kilometer from the beach on a cliff.
In 1980, there was an event here that gave the actual name of the beach, Navagio (from Greek “shipwreck”). The Greek coastal police pursued smugglers traveling from Turkey to Italy in the waters near the island of Zakynthos. As a result of the chase, the bandits ran aground their vessel, named Panayiotis, near the beach of St. George. After sinking the ship, they escaped by boat. A less popular version states that the ship belonged to a cargo company. After it ran aground and the crew was evacuated, the smugglers looted the ship.
Two years later, after a severe storm, the ship was washed ashore. The rusted ship, half-filled with sand, quickly became a local landmark. And with the advent of Instagram, it became the iconic place of Zakynthos, where everyone wants to check in and take impressive photos.
The beach with fine white sand in the sea looks like an idyllic place for a relaxing vacation. The sea here has an incredibly beautiful blue hue – due to the minerals and calcium dissolved in the water, as well as the refraction of sunlight. But the romantic setting during the high season is spoiled by the fact that all vacationers on the island of Zakynthos tend to visit this beach. During the day, excursion boats constantly arrive to the small plot of land 180 meters long. The most pandemonium is at 11:00-11:30 am, when two big ships with a capacity of 300 people each arrive to the beach of Shipwreck.
The entrance to the sea is sharp, almost immediately near the shore is deep. At the entrance to the sea there are fine pebbles. The beach is undeveloped. If you want to spend the day here, you must bring beach gear, snacks and be sure to stock up on drinking water. Toilets and cabins for changing on the beach no. It is also necessary to mean that in the afternoon (after 12:00) the beach is covered with a shadow from rocks. For a beach holiday, you should arrive to Navagio beach of Zakynthos in the morning.
How to get to Navagio beach
The island of Zakynthos is part of the group of Ionian Islands of Greece, washed by the Ionian Sea. Navagio beach is located in the northwestern part of the island. It is accessible by car only to the viewpoint on the cliff.
Navagio beach tours
Navagio Beach on Zakynthos can only be reached by water. Sea excursion boats leave from three ports on the island:
- Port of Agios Nikolaos. The harbor is located at a distance of 14 km from the beach. This marina is the closest Zakynthos harbor to Navajo beach. The sightseeing cruise usually lasts 1,5 hours. Prices for boat excursions start at 15 euros.
- The port of Skinari. The coordinates of the port are: 37.932924, 20.700938. Parking is free at the parking lot of the port. Boats leave every 10-15 minutes. The sightseeing trip will cost from 15-20 euros. Usually the excursion program includes a visit not only to the beach of Shipwreck, but also to the blue caves of Zakynthos. The tour takes 1 hour to visit the beach. It is also possible to book individual sea excursions.
- Porto Vromi. The coordinates of the marina are: 37.822367, 20.634628. For a similar price (15-20 euros) boats take groups of tourists to Navagio beach in Greece. The tour program also includes a visit to Mount Poseidon and another beach (Sweet water beach). A local transportation company offers a boat rental for 2 hours – from 80 euros. In the course of this individual trip you can determine the route on your own.
Keep in mind that sometimes due to strong waves near the shore, the distance from the boat to the beach must be overcome by swimming.