Navagio Beach (aka Shipwreck Cove) is one of the best beaches in Greece and likely one of the most picturesque stretches of sand in the world. This was the featured image on Trip Advisor’s home page for a long time and it’s one of the most photographed places in Greece.
When you first see it, you’ll quickly realize why. Whether you peer down on it from the towering cliffs above, or you take a boat trip to Navagio Beach, you’ll likely have your breath taken away by the impossibly blue Ionian water, the blindingly white pebbly sand and of course, the eerie-looking shipwreck that lies in the center of the sand.
See Also: Our Ultimate Guide To Greece Travel
Where is Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Cove)
Navagio Beach is located off the northern coast of Zakynthos Island (aka Zante Island). The island of Zakynthos lies in the Ionian Sea about 250 kilometres west of Athens and just 20 kilometres from the westernmost point of the Greek (Peloponnese) mainland.
To get to Zakynthos, you can either fly direct from Athens or take a ferry from Kyllini on the mainland. The ferries run 7 times per day between 05:30 and 22:30 and will cost around €50 per person each way depending on the time of year.
Best Time of Day To See Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Cove)
Generally, you’ll want to visit during the middle of the day if you don’t mind crowds. In the shoulder season, you’ll have to go a little later so that the sun comes over the cliffs and actually lightens up the sand for your photos.
Any time between noon and 3 pm should be a good time to visit the beach on most days. At the viewing platform on the cliffs above, this is the best time to visit Shipwreck Cove, but if you’re going by boat, this will also be the busiest.
The sand can get very busy, so I’d recommend visiting by boat either early morning or late afternoon and seeing the beach from the cliffs at midday.
The Best Time To Visit Shipwreck Cove
The best time of year to visit Zakynthos is very similar to the best time to visit Greece. Generally, Spring (March to May) and Fall (September to early-November) are our favourite times to visit Zakynthos but you can visit year-round. If you come in the summer, the sea will be nice and warm for swimming but there will be lots of crowds.
If you come in the winter, you may have a harder time finding companies to take you as some shut down in the offseason. Also, the sea will be too cold for swimming.
How To Get To Navagio Beach
Once you’re on Zante Island there are many ways to see Shipwreck Cove. Most people opt to take a tour that can be booked from literally every tour agency on the island, or online with trusted tour booking sites like Get Your Guide.
There are two ways to see the beach, one is to take a boat (the beach is only accessible by sea) and the other is to view the beach from the impressive 200 meter-high cliffs that surround the secluded cove.
If you want to actually swim in the azure waters and touch your feet to the sand, you’ll have to book a boat tour. I recommend checking out Get Your Guide for this so that you can book it in advance and make sure you get a spot.
From The Cliffs
If you want to have that iconic photo that everyone has of Shipwreck Cove then you’re going to want to head to the top of the limestone cliffs near Elatia at the northwest corner of the island. There’s a viewing platform here that is a great place for photos.
To get here, I highly recommend renting a car (Click Here to see where it is on Google Maps). Driving here is easy and is beautifully scenic as well. We booked a car for our entire stay on Zakynthos Island and I highly recommend it. We always book with Expedia (not a sponsor) and you can get cars for as little as $ 15 per day in Zakynthos.
Warning: Please note that there have been some deaths of tourists lately taking photos from the high cliffs. When you visit the Shipwreck Cove lookout point, please don’t be stupid like we were in the above photo (we didn’t know at the time). Stay within the gated off area.
Restaurants On Navagio Beach
There are no restaurants or bars on Navagio beach which is why most people visit as part of a tour.
If you book a day trip on a boat to Shipwreck Cove then you’ll usually be given lunch at the beach as well and some drinks. It’s worth checking with the tour operator before you book to ensure you have food and drinks as there are no restaurants at Shipwreck Cove.
The Type of Sand on Navagio Beach
Navagio Beach is like many other beaches in Zakynthos and in the rest of the Ionian Sea. You’ll find that when you view the beach from the viewing platforms on the cliffs 200 meters above, you’d be certain that it’s white powdery sand.
But when you step off the boat and cringe slightly in pain as your feet hit the beach, you’ll quickly realize that it’s actually tiny pebbles. It’s best to wear water shoes or at least flip flops so that you can be comfortable while walking around the beach and heading out for a swim.
Where To Stay Near Navagio Beach
While Navagio Beach is a stunning sight to behold, the accommodation around the cove isn’t the best on the island. If you’re going to be staying on Zakynthos Island for a few days, then I’d recommend staying elsewhere and visit Navagio Beach as a day trip instead.
Some of the best places to stay in Zakynthos include Zante Town (the capital), Laganas (the party/tourist hot spot), Tsilivi (family safe beach), or Psarou (a local village where we stayed).
No matter what you decide when researching where to stay in Zakynthos, I recommend renting a car so that you can easily get to Shipwreck Cove and the other sites around. There are many things to do in Zakynthos, and by having a car you’ll easily be able to explore most of them in a few days or a week-long holiday.
Why is it Called Shipwreck Cove?
Well, once you see Navagio Beach you’ll quickly realize why it’s called Shipwreck Cove. There’s a massive 157 food Freightliner plunked in the center of the sand that crashed on the beach on October 2, 1980.
The ship got caught in a bad storm and was unable to see where it was going before it ran aground upon the picturesque cove. Some rumours say that the ship was smuggling drugs (which also lends to the fact that the beach has the nickname “Smugglers Cove”), but these claims were never officially confirmed and the captain and crew was not convicted on any such offences.
The ship was abandoned there and has been sitting on the beach, rotting away ever since. Later, the beach took on the name. This crash turned out to be lucky for Greece as it’s now one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Sure, people would’ve still come for the picture-perfect sandy cove, but the shipwreck just adds to the allure.
Travel Tips For Shipwreck Cove
Not all tours are created equal and there’s quite a bit to know about visiting the beach as there are two ways to see it, by road and by boat. Here are a few basic tips to help you plan how to see Shipwreck Cove.
Use Google Maps: Download the Google Maps App on your Android or Apple device and then download the map of Zakynthos for offline use. Once you have the app and the map downloaded, Click Here to view and save the location of the viewing platform so you can find directions there using the app.
Be Careful: Many tourists have fallen to their deaths from the sketchy 200 meter high cliffs above Navagio Beach. Please be careful when visiting this area as not everything was well signed at the time of our visit. Stay behind the gated area and far away from the edge of these cliffs.
By Boat Tour
Choose a Small Boat Tour: Some boats that make this trip are enormous double-deckers so even if there aren’t any tours on the sand when you get there, it’ll feel crowded just because of how many people are on your boat with you. Try to choose a smaller group tour on a smaller boat to have a more quiet experience.
Avoid Mid-Day Trips: The beach is busiest at midday because many people want to be there when the sun is directly overhead so they can see the sand in all of its glory. The issue is that it can be insanely crowded at this time. Try to choose trips in the morning or late afternoon, the beach is still stunning and there will be a fraction of people on the sand.
You Only Have 1 Hour: Most boat tours that go to Navagio Beach only stay on the sand for around an hour, so make sure you get a few photos, go for a swim, lay on the sand and just try to enjoy the beach as much as possible in the short time provided.
Bring Shoes or Flip Flops: The beach has white pebbles, not sand, so it can actually be a little bit painful in bare feet. Consider bringing some footwear if you plan to walk along the sand.
Bring Supplies: Most tour companies aren’t going to offer you sunscreen, hats, etc. Some don’t even offer you enough water. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies for a day at the beach.
There are NO Facilities: Keep in mind that there are no facilities on the beach so if you book a tour on a boat without a toilet, you’ll want to do any business that can’t be done in the ocean before you get on the boat on the way to Navagio Beach.
The Water Gets Deep Quick: If you’re travelling with children, be aware that the beach gets deep quite quickly.
Boats Can Be Cancelled: All boat trips to Shipwreck Cove are weather permitting, so if it’s stormy don’t be surprised if your trip gets cancelled. Before booking your trip to the beach, consider checking the 5-day forecast and choose a day that is most likely to be clear and calm.
Boat trips can also leave quickly if they see a storm coming, so don’t venture too far from your boat. It’s no coincidence that there’s already a wrecked ship on this beach, the tour operators don’t want to add to that with their own fleet!
Enjoy Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Cove)!
Navagio Beach is one of the most beautiful stretches of sand you’ll likely see in your life. I hope this post will help ensure that you make the most of your trip there.
Whether you visit by boat or from the cliffs above, make sure to take lots of photos, but also put the camera/smartphone down for a while to just enjoy the incredible view. One mistake so many people make is seeing Navagio from the screen of their devices. Take it in, enjoy and be careful!
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