Smugglers Bay on Zakynthos, Greece

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 and is one of our top 10 sights in Greece. 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.


PICTURES: Smugglers' Bay on Zakynthos

Photo gallery: Smugglers Bay on Zakynthos

Smuggler's Cove 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 catalogues.

Tip: If you want to shoot the postcard motif of Smuggler's Bay with your own camera, follow the signs to the Agios Gergio 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 images would have you believe. The sand is really so brilliantly white, the sea really so azure and the cliffs really so steep. And the ship is really there, too.

Shipwreck of the "Panagiotis

The freighter Panagiotis belonged to smugglers who had illegal shipments of cigarettes on board and were being pursued by the coastguard, Zakynthos, Greece - © David Ryznar / Shutterstock
© David Ryznar / Shutterstock

The freighter that gave the famous bay its name was carrying smugglers in October 1980. They had illegal cigarette loads on board and were being pursued by the coast guard. In the stormy seas, the ship suffered devastating engine damage and ran aground on what was then called "Agios Georgios" Bay. The crew managed to save themselves and the rusty skeleton of the smuggler's ship has been attracting millions of tourists to the unique beach ever since.

After a rockfall 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!

Journey to Smuggler's Cove

Smuggler's Bay can only be reached 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 programme. The boats to Navagio usually leave from Skinari, Agios Nikolaos or Ormos Vromi.

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

Visit to the Blue Grottoes

On the way back, the excursion boats usually stop at Cape Skinari, where guests can go swimming and diving at the dreamlike "Blue Grottoes". The underwater landscape at the blue grottos 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.