Zakynthos is a beautiful island located off the southwest coast of Greece. It is home to many magnificent valleys, secluded cloves and wonderful beaches. However, what makes this island popular around the world is the Navagio Shipwreck Beach, a tiny cove with clear waters and pristine beach containing a famous magnificent shipwreck.
The cove is enclosed by white cliffs and blue ocean, offering a sight to behold. With such beauty, this beach is sure to top the sightseeing list if you visit Zante. Today, we try to discover more about the Smugglers Cove and learn about the story behind this place. We disclose everything you need to know about the most popular beach of Greece.
(Read also: Nightlife in Laganas – Best Bars & Clubs)
Smugglers Cove Zante – UPDATED 2020
Smugglers Cove is an exposed cove situated on the coast of Zakynthos in the Ionian Islands in Greece. The Greek name of this beach is Agios Georgios. It is also called by the name ‘Shipwreck Beach’ or ‘Navagio Beach’.
It got its name from the vessel that was suspected to be a smuggler ship. On October 2, 1980, MV Panagiotis washed away in the waters around the island near Navagio Beach due to poor weather. The ship was abandoned and lay buried in the limestone gravel at the beach. It is now called by the nickname ‘Shipwreck’.
The small, isolated yet astonishingly beautiful cove lies to the north-west of the Zakynthos island near the village of Anafonitria opposite the capital Zante. It is defined by clear blue waters, white sand beach and sheer limestone cliffs.
This natural beauty attracts a large number of tourists every year. The strip of the beach can only be accessed by boat but it can be viewed from the top by standing on the high cliff overlooking it.
Smugglers Cove is known for the rusting hulk of a vessel dominating the white sand beach and is famous as the most popular base jumping locations in the world.
Though the beach is on the island and access is difficult, thousands of visitors come every year to see the shipwreck and swim in the deep ocean waters. This side of the sea is quite cold so swimmers should be careful.
Just like other beaches in Zante, the Smugglers Cove has a white powdery sand as you view from the cliff above the beach. However, as you step on the beach, you realize that there are small pebbles.
You can wear flip flops or water shoes to make sure you can walk around the beach comfortably and head out to swimming without any problem. Though this beach is stunning scenery, it is not ideal for accommodation. So if you are staying at the island for a few days, you can stay somewhere in Laganas, Zante Town or Tsilivi and visit the Navagio Beach as a one-day trip.
Smugglers Cove Zante Trips
Smugglers Cove and the world-famous shipwreck are definitely the most popular attractions in Zante. So there is no doubt the place is busy. The beach is crowded between 10am to 2pm during the peak season. At times, the sight becomes so busy that you can see 20 boats anchored at a time. Those who want to spend some good time without dealing with a lot of crowd can visit early morning or after the rush in the late afternoon. In the mornings and evenings, the beach can be found peaceful and the atmosphere seems more relaxing so that you can have a good time exploring the shipwreck and enjoying leisure activities at the beach.
There is only one way to reach the Smugglers Cove and that is by boat. You can board a boat from multiple places to get to the famous beach. To the north of the Cove is the Harbour of Saint Nikolas near Volimes that lets you take a boat to the beach. Another place to take a Smugglers Cove Zante Trip is a small harbour of Porto Vromi. You can also sail from the capital city of the island, Zakynthos. This means Shipwreck Cove is not the only beautiful sight you see on your trip.
The time it takes to reach Shipwreck Cove depends on what type of boat trip you take. The duration of your Smugglers Cove trip can be as short as 1.5 hours if you just want to explore Navagio Beach or you can choose to spend the entire day at the place with the Shipwreck Cove as a part of the tour at Zante’s coast. The most popular trip option is 2.5-3 hours trip to the cove. On this day trip, the boat takes you on a tour to other coastal sights in Zante. The locations can include loggerhead turtles in the Laganas Bay and the Blue Caves on the north-east part of the island.
You can take a full-day cruise that boards you on a sightseeing boat in Zante town and you can relax as you pass through resorts and beaches. The boat takes you past the Blue Caves and anchors off the Smugglers Cove to enjoy views and swim before cruising back to the port. Another trip option is a 6-hour tour where you explore the Smugglers Cove with a small group of visitors. A lot of companies also offer VIP private tours that cover all the different aspects of the island. You get dedicated guides with thorough knowledge of the place and they answer all your queries. Such full-day tours would include stops at other beaches of the island along with a 1-hour exploration stop at the Shipwreck Beach and a photo stop at the viewpoint of the Navagio Beach.
You can also opt to take a boat cruise from St Nikolas port with a small group in a speed boat. This trip takes you to a visit to Shipwreck Beach when it is not so crowded. You can enjoy white rock cliffs by the blue waters alongside the island. You can stop at the Blue Caves on the way back, get inside them and explore the beauty. A great option for couples is the Sunset cruise to Navagio Beach that lets you watch the sun diving into the blue waters. You can enjoy swimming at the most famous beach in Greece. These trips include luxury private car transportation from your hotel to the port where you board a ship. Smugglers Cove Zante trips can cost on the basis of the duration and luxury of the tour you choose. There are many affordable options available for exploring this world-famous shipwreck.
Apart from booking a boat tour, you can rent a boat and drive around the Zante coast. This is a great way to explore the island and coves. Boat rentals start at about €80 but you should be an experienced driver before taking the trip to Navagio Beach. If there are signs of bad weather, you should turn back immediately. If you find no boats in the sea, you should look for a shelter as there could be a storm on the way.
Smugglers Cove Zante Map
Smugglers Cove is situated off the northern coast of Zante island which lies in the Ionian Sea to 250 km west of Athens and 20 km from the westernmost part of the Greek mainland. You can reach Zakynthos by air or use a ferry from the mainland. Ferry rides are available from 5.30 to 22.30, run seven times in a day and cost about €50 per person depending on what time of the year you go.
The best times of the year to visit Greece or Zante are March to May and September to November. You can visit any time of the year though. If you visit in summer, you will find warm waters to swim in the sea but the place is quite crowded. In winter, the sea water is too cold to swim. Once you arrive at Zante, there are many ways to get a trip to the Shipwreck Cove. Most visitors book a tour with the agencies at the island or online with reputed sites. You can either explore the cove from a boat or from a 200m high cliff that surrounds the beach.
If you choose to see the beach by car, you can download Google Maps on your device and download the map of Zakynthos to use offline. You can then save the location of the Smugglers Cove to find the directions using the app. The viewing platform gives you the chance to have the iconic photo of Shipwreck Cove from the top of the limestone cliff. You can rent a car and drive easily while enjoying the beautiful scenery. The interactive map to Smugglers Cove would help you find your way to the Shipwreck viewing area by road.
Navagio Shipwreck Beach – What You Should Know?
Navagio Shipwreck Beach is the most famous beach in Greece and is located on the north west coast of the Ionian Island of Zante. It is also known by the names ‘Smugglers Cove’ or ‘Shipwreck Cove’. This beach can be accessed by boat only and not by any other means.
It is a picturesque beach that is highly photographed and featured in numerous advertisements, films, travel books and holiday brochures. This vessel was shipwrecked back in the 80s when it hit the rocks in adverse weather conditions. It was being followed by the Greek Navy as it was suspected to transport contraband cigarettes.
While Navagio Beach is an excellent holiday destination, tourists visiting it should carry necessities with them as the beach is secluded and there are no facilities available. The shipwreck bay is great for a sun lounge but needs a sun umbrella because you can experience heat radiating from the white cliffs. You will find no shade on the place when the sun is up. There are no bars or restaurants on this beach and that is why most visitors explore it as a part of the tour. You can carry some food and drinks when you visit Shipwreck Beach.
Navagio Shipwreck Beach is surrounded by tall steep cliffs, making it inaccessible and remote. This type of structure makes it impossible to reach it by walking. Anybody planning to visit it should take a boat. You can find boat services to the cove from the Harbor of Saint Nikolas towards the north or Porto Vromi located at the south. It is also possible to take a boat service from the capital city of Zante of the island.
Shipwreck Beach is one of the most visited sights in the entire Greece. Travel companies would agree that it is more popular than the Parthenon or the Acropolis of Athens. So if you decide to pay a visit to this destination during the day in the peak season, you might see thousands of other tourists. To find some peace, you can choose to visit it either early in the morning or later in the noon.
You can often see multiple ships docked at the beach because the place is so popular. Boats carrying tourists and even those going to other places often stop at the Shipwreck Cove as it is an attractive site. This location is generally busy during the day between 10 in the morning to 2 of noon.
If you want to take spectacular pictures of the Navagio Beach from the top, you can drive up to the top of the cliff. There is a view platform on the edge that gives you excellent photography opportunities. This is the place where most postcard pictures are captured. To reach this viewpoint, you can follow road signs that read ‘Navagio’.
Smugglers Cove Zante was featured in the Korean drama ‘Descendants of the Sun’ which led to a rise of interest among both Korean and Chinese travelers. The Navagio Beach was closed temporarily in 2018 as a landslide had occurred. A cliff had collapsed over the beach and dropped a lot of rock. It had overturned some boats and injured some people. Swimming and anchoring were banned for some time before it was reopened to the general public.
New safety rules have been introduced for boats to ensure the safety of visitors coming to the cove. Anchoring is now permitted only in waters in front of the shipwreck and not at the edges. To make sure that safety precautions are followed, officers are always monitoring on the beach and in the boats. These restrictions are essential as there is a concern of future landslides.
Zakynthos Shipwreck History
It is true that Zakynthos Shipwreck is one of the most photographed and popular beaches in Greece. It is a beautiful place but has a mysterious history. Navagio Beach is so gorgeous, with limestone cliffs on the three sides. It stands out because of the wrecked hull that lies in its centre. It is a shipwrecked smuggling vessel Panayiotis that washed up on its shores in 1980.
There are many stories surrounding the shipwreck and the true details might not be known. However, the locals say a group of smugglers used to transport banned cigarettes from Italy to Greece through the Ionian Sea. They say MV Panayiotis was a smuggler ship and is responsible for the name Smugglers Cove. The ship carried wine, cigars and even human beings and it was caught by the authorities.
Some others say the vessel smuggled cigarettes, liquor and women and had lost engine power. It got washed at the shore. There is also a theory that says that the owner of the ship smuggled cigarettes and had boarded two Italian smugglers during this journey. People say the captain was able to imprison the two Italians but bad weather forced him to ground the vessel in the bay. Part of the ship got carried away by the waves. As the authorities came to know about the incident, they deported the Italians, arrested the crew and sold the cargo through auction.
The captain of the ship had shared the true account of the incident on a website. According to his recollection, the MV Panayiotis had sailed in September 1980. On October 2, 1980, the ship arrived at the beach of St. George and there was a mechanical failure due to bad weather. He had reported to the authorities but nobody could send any protection against dangers as the beach could not be accessed by land.
The result was that some parts of the ship had been stolen along with equipment. The captain reported the theft to the authorities and an on-site investigation was performed. Within a few days, all the stolen items were recovered from local villages. About 30 people were jailed when the trials were completed. When he was released from all the accusations, he was asked to take the ship on his own. But when he visited the beach to find how it could be done, it looked so beautiful that he decided to leave it as it was. The captain lives a peaceful life in Kefalonia.
Whatever be the original story behind the Shipwreck, the incident of 1980 has left an outstanding monument which makes Zakynthos so attractive.