Smugglers Bay on Zakynthos, Greece

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Smugglers Bay on Zakynthos is the ultimate postcard motif of the Greek island. Surrounded by rugged cliffs, a shipwreck lies in the middle of the white sand of a secluded bay.

The famous Smugglers Bay in the north of the Greek island of Zakynthos is actually called Navagio Bay. The well-known “Shipwreck Beach” got its artificial name from the wreck of the coastal ship “Panagiotis”, which beached here in October 1980. Navagio means “shipwreck” in Greek, before that the beach was called Agios Georgios.

Smugglers Bay is the most famous and photographed beach on Zakynthos and also one of the most famous in all of Greece. The striking shipwreck on the small beach, surrounded by 200m high cliffs and turquoise blue sea, is the epitome of the Greek island of Zakynthos. Billions of times this image has been sold on postcards and printed in travel catalogs.

Tip: If you want to shoot the postcard motif of Smuggler’s Bay with your own camera, follow the signs to the Agios Georgios Kremnao Monastery. From the monastery, a road on the right leads to a small viewing platform about 300m above Smuggler’s Bay.

Contrary to every cliché, Smuggler’s Bay is actually as picturesque as the pictures would have you believe. The sand is actually so brilliantly white, the sea actually so azure and the cliffs actually so steep. And also the ship is really there.

Tip: In the high season, several cruise ships land in Smuggler’s Bay, especially at noon, and the beach and the wreck are then quite crowded. If you want to have some peace and quiet, it’s best to visit Navagio in the morning or late afternoon.

By the way, the freighter belonged to smugglers who had illegal cigarette loads on board and were pursued by the coast guard. In the stormy seas, the ship suffered a devastating engine failure and ran aground on what was then called “Agios Georgios” bay. The crew managed to save themselves and the rusty skeleton of the smuggler ship has been attracting millions of tourists to the unique beach ever since.

After a rock fall in September 2018, which even injured several tourists, the beach had to be closed for several days. The warning signs not to go too close to the cliff should be followed in any case!

How to get to Smuggler’s Cove

Smuggler’s Bay can be reached only by boat. Surrounded by vertical cliffs, there is no alternative way to reach the bay. Almost all tour operators on Zakynthos have a boat trip to Smuggler’s Bay in their program. Most of the boats to Navagio start from Skinari, Agios Nikolaos or Ormos Vromi. On the way back, the excursion boats usually stop at Cape Skinari, where guests can go swimming and diving at the dreamlike “Blue Grottoes”.

Tip: The underwater landscape at the blue grottoes is absolutely overwhelming by Greek standards! The crystal clear water ensures excellent visibility and the steep cliffs provide a unique diving experience amidst numerous Mediterranean fish. Therefore: Don’t forget either photo equipment for Smuggler’s Bay, nor snorkeling equipment for the Blue Grottoes!


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Theus Alves

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