Visiting Greece’s Shipwreck Beach Overlook Viewpoint

shipwreck beach navagio cliff overlook viewpoint zakynthos island greece

Last updated Feb 25, 2024

Introduction to Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos Island, Greece

Shipwreck Beach in Greece, also known as Navagio Beach, is one of the most photographed sites in the Greek Islands these days. It is ‘Instagram famous’ now as a favorite travel photo bucket-list destination.

If you’ve explored travel or holiday options in the Greek Islands, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen photos from the Shipwreck Beach overlook viewpoint in various Greece travel promotions.

Over the years, Shipwreck Beach tourist activity has become very important to the Zakynthos local economy, and probably the overall Greek tourism economy as well.

Where is Shipwreck Beach in Greece?

Shipwreck Beach is in the northwest corner of the Greek island of Zakynthos, in the Ionian island group along the western edge of Greece. Zakynthos/Zakinthos is also known as Zante, so you may see any or all of these names used.

See the maps below for Shipwreck Beach location details.

zakynthos and ionian islands and sea
Shipwreck Beach is on the Greek island of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea.
zakynthos island map shipwreck beach location
Shipwreck Beach is tucked into a secluded cove on the northwest edge of Zakynthos. The clifftop viewpoint is just north of the actual beach.

Getting to the Best Shipwreck Beach Viewpoint

Driving to the Overlook Site

We rented a car for a few days while on Zakynthos, so that’s how we got to the beach overlook area.

Our hotel was in Zakynthos Town (Zante Town) near the southeast corner of the island, so we drove a mostly diagonal northwest route to reach the overlook site.

The drive takes approximately 50 minutes, with interesting villages and landscape scenes to take in along the way. We stopped a few times at some scenic spots to take photos, so our total driving time over was closer to an hour.

Google Maps shows a few different routes for driving to the Navagio Shipwreck Beach area.

driving map from zante town to navagio beach shipwreck location
Main driving routes from Zakynthos Town to the Shipwreck Beach area.

By Bus / Group Tour

Many visitors to Zakynthos also take tour buses and private group tours to reach the shipwreck overlook site with a commercial tour operator.

Many packages are available. You’ll see vendors pitching their tour options along the harborfront in Zante Town.

Also, check out the Shipwreck Beach tours available from Viator. There are many tour options available here at various price points, and you can lock in your tour well in advance.

Just be sure to book an actual ‘overlook’ or ‘viewpoint’ tour, and not a boat trip only to the beach itself, if your goal is to experience the clifftop view.

A Shipwreck Beach overlook or view point tour is NOT the same as a beach visit… just to be clear on that point.

Tip: If you visit the Shipwreck Beach overlook site on your own and see tour buses arriving at the same time, do what you can to beat them either to the main viewing platform and/or to the hiking trail if it’s also open. You may save yourself lots of time this way and have an easier time getting to the best photo spots along the cliffside edge.

By ATV / Quad Cycle

We also saw people riding ATVs into the overlook area. That seems like a great way to get there from nearby towns, though I’d personally prefer a small rental car if traveling from Zakynthos Town itself.

Check for Overlook Closures Due to Fire Risk

When we visited Zakynthos in late August 2021, parts of Greece were dealing with serious wildfires, and local officials were on high alert about taking fire precautions.

In fact, a day or so before we visited the overlook point, we were advised twice by locals in Zakynthos Town that the only road into the viewpoint area was completely closed due to wildfire precautions.

Our hopes of visiting the Shipwreck Beach overlook were almost snuffed out! This was a major bummer. When, if ever, would we get back to Zakynthos to try again?!

Maybe never.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

So, we decided to just take our chances and drive up there anyway. It would be an interesting drive in any case, and we might just get lucky.

Here’s what we saw when we arrived.

cars waiting navagio beach viewpoint drive
This road is the only way into the Shipwreck Beach overlook area. The cars in front of us are just waiting in line, not parked.

As we first approached, it looked like everyone was being turned away. Our worst fear after making 95% of the drive to get here!

Then we saw that a lone guard in an orange vest was actually letting cars through, one at a time as other visitors drove out. One car out, another car let in. Just a simple form of crowd control, not a show-stopper.

We couldn’t believe our good luck on this day. Within 30 minutes or so, we were in!

guarded entry drive to shipwreck beach viewpoint
An ATV approaches the guard and gets sent to the back of the line.

Good Timing and Good Luck!

By the way, we later learned that the entire access road into the overlook area was completely closed for about a week or two before our visit. Then a week or so after we left Greece, the road to the overlook viewpoint was open again, but the foot trail (see below) over to the best photo areas was closed.

This meant everyone was constrained to just using the official viewing platform, which meant huge lines and not-great photo angles. Some people just gave up and left. 

To sum it up… we got really lucky on our visit timing! Hopefully, things will work out well for your visit too.

I really recommend doing some research specifically on the beach viewpoint accessibility as close as possible to your planned visit day, especially if visiting during the hottest weeks of summer when wildfire risks are higher.

Shipwreck Beach Reviews and News Updates

Given the dynamic situation regarding Shipwreck Beach access due to wildfire and landslide concerns — and the condition of the shipwreck itself — it’s a smart idea to check for news updates before you go.

Check for the latest reviews on Google Maps.

Check for the latest reviews on TripAdvisor. You can also view and book available excursions here.

Also, see the Zakynthos Informer website for any updates related to fire precautions or other Shipwreck Beach cliff viewpoint access or beach and shipwreck access issues.

The Greek Reporter website also has useful news updates on Shipwreck Beach. (Try the search function there for articles on Zakynthos.)

Best Times of Day to Visit the Overlook

Given that the beach faces mostly west, and the cliffs here are quite high, you may want to avoid morning hours for your visit if you want abundant sunshine in your photos of the actual beach and shipwreck.

If you go too early in the day, at least parts of the beach, shipwreck, and cliffside faces will be in shadow. The blue tones in the water may also be more muted in the morning hours before the sun gets high enough to make the blue sea colors really ‘pop’.

Morning hours will be best for avoiding crowds and tour buses, however. It’s just a timing trade-off to consider.

Sun angles and timing of course depend on the time of year, too. You may want to grab a good mobile app that shows sun (and moon) angles for anywhere in the world at any time of day or night. Check your favorite mobile app store for a highly-rated sun position app.

In general, afternoon hours should be fine for good sunlit photographs here. Some visitors will want to be here closer to sunset to get the classic Golden Hour (pre-sunset) or even Blue Hour (post-sunset) photo opportunities.

Best Options for Viewing and Photos

The Official Overlook View Point

The ‘official’ and closest overlook point is the narrow metal viewing platform. (See second photo below.)

You may see a lot of people queuing for this spot, waiting for their turn to have a few seconds to grab some quick overlook photos from the narrow platform.

line at shipwreck beach overlook platform
Long line for the official small viewing platform high above Shipwreck Beach.
shipwreck beach main view point platform line
The narrow metal railing section is the ‘official’ beach overlook view point.

As I mentioned above, this is NOT the best vantage point for capturing great images of the beach and shipwreck.

It’s not even close.

But it may be the only option for people on an organized tour, e.g., a bus tour, if the actual time permitted on site is too limited.

Tip: If arranging to join a bus tour, be sure to ask about the time limits for photography at the overlook site. I’d say you’ll need at least 45-60 minutes on site if you want to venture over to the better cliffside views described below.

Hiking to the Cliff Edge for Better Views and Photos

If time permits and you also have the desire and physical ability to get far better views of Shipwreck Beach, the rocky and dusty trail over to the cliffside edge views is well worth it.

Just be VERY CAREFUL if you choose to get anywhere close to the cliff edge. More on this point below.

The Hiking Trail

Here’s what the trail looks like on the way to the best Navagio Beach overlook positions.

shipwreck beach viewpoint trail and tourists
The trail to the best beach overlook views is dusty and rocky, but not too difficult.
shipwreck beach cliff trail
There are a few short inclines to manage on the way over. Not too bad.
zakynthos shipwreck beach viewpoint trail and tourists
Getting closer. The point in the middle background is the best viewing and photography spot. You’ll be looking to the left from there to see Navagio Beach and the rusty shipwreck far below.

It took us approximately 15-20 minutes to walk all the way out to the pointed overlook in the distance. That’s why I recommend at least 45-60 minutes on-site if you want to take the hiking trail out and back, with some picture-taking time near the viewpoint.

60+ minutes of free time on site is even better.

The trail itself is pretty rocky and dusty. Be careful if you are wearing open-toed shoes or sandals. Lightweight hiking shoes or rugged sandals will work best, but people manage this trail in all types of footwear.

Unfortunately, this trail is NOT wheelchair friendly.

Not for Small Kids or the Elderly 

We did not see any parents taking young kids on this trail and/or to the cliffside edge.

That seemed pretty smart to us. If you’re visiting here with young ones, you’ll likely want to stick to the official overlook platform closer to the main parking area. 

Similarly, the cliffside trail is not friendly to elderly folks with mobility or balance issues.

The Cliffside Edge, Near the Point

This is where all the best photo action is. You’ll get the best shots by far from near the edge of the cliff that directly overlooks the beach and shipwreck.

Here are some of the views and shots you can get from this vantage point.

navagio beach overlook afternoon view
The classic Shipwreck Beach Overlook wide view.
tourists and greek flag shipwreck beach
The Greek flag makes for a great photo compositional element at the viewpoint.
cliff view navagio beach entry by boat
Beautiful blue and turquoise shades at the entrance to Smugglers Cove.
shipwreck beach overlook cliffside edge
This is about as close to the cliff edge as I wanted to get for this vertical shot of Shipwreck Beach.

Side Note: My trusty Teva sandals, at 27+ years of age, are older than many of the people visiting this place. 🙂

shipwreck beach cliff overlook steep drop
Peering over the edge. It’s about 200 meters / 650 feet straight down from here.
cliff and sea navagio beach entry
The far point of Smugglers Cove. Small ships and tour boats come around this corner to reach Navagio Beach and its resident shipwreck.
sailboat approaching navagio beach zakynthos island greece
A private sailboat motors toward Navagio Beach.

Cliffside Precautions — Important!

As I mentioned already, be extremely careful if you decide to get anywhere near the edge of the cliff here. The rocky edge up top is not entirely stable everywhere, and there may be gusts of wind that can take people by surprise and impact your balance.

And, as you can see from these photos, there’s no protective railing at all here.

If it’s very crowded when you visit, you may also be distracted or bumped into by other people jockeying for good views and photo positions.

When we visited, it wasn’t overly crowded and everyone seemed patient and careful when taking photos.

When it comes to visiting the Shipwreck Beach Overlook, pay close attention to your position and footing relative to the cliff edge while taking your epic travel photos and selfies.

Remember: Every year at clifftop tourist hotspots around the world, people in search of the ultimate selfie pics make a final and fatal error in judgment.

Don’t be one of them, please!

shipwreck beach trail warning sign fall hazard
There were just a handful of these warning signs attached to scruffy bushes along the trail to the cliff edge.
taking photos navagio beach overlook zakynthos island greece
Shooting Shipwreck Beach photos from a safe position along the cliff edge.

Camera and Photography Considerations

The vast majority of visitors to Shipwreck Beach will be armed only with smartphone cameras. That’s fine — you can get great landscape and wide-angle shots with any modern smartphone camera.

You’ll need a pretty wide angle to capture the beach with the shipwreck as well as the surrounding cliffs and sea all in one shot.

You might even try the panorama mode on your smartphone, or a few telephoto shots to capture just the beach and shipwreck below.

My Smartphone Plus DSLR Camera Strategy

I used a Samsung Galaxy S21 (12 MP) as my main camera for this trip to Greece, but also brought a Pentax K-50 DSLR (16 MP APS-C sensor) with a compact 50-200mm telephoto zoom lens, a 1.4x teleconverter, and a compact 21mm prime (~ 30mm full-frame equivalent).

I was determined to travel with less photo gear on this trip while still covering essentially all of the photography situations I was anticipating. In hindsight now, this was a good combo approach.

The image quality of the DSLR with a decent but compact telephoto lens just far exceeds what I would have gotten with the Galaxy S21 camera and its hybrid zoom set at maybe 10x or so.

Here are a few telephoto shots from the Pentax K-50 DSLR. These are all shot from the clifftop overlook area.

The second shot below is at about 420mm focal length equivalent on a full-frame camera.

shipwreck beach and tour boats
Shipwreck and tour boats with tourists visiting Navagio Beach.
tourists exploring shipwreck navagio beach
Tourists explore the Navagio Beach shipwreck up close.
couple at navagio beach overlook far edge viewpoint
A couple takes photos from the far tip of the Shipwreck Beach overlook area.

I also switched to the Pentax DA 21mm prime lens for a few shots, like the one directly above of the couple at the far viewpoint. These are decent shots too, but they didn’t capture a wide enough view of the entire beach and cove entrance compared to the Galaxy S21 wide-angle camera.

Of course, professional landscape photographers and travel photography enthusiasts come here with very capable DSLR and mirrorless gear to get professional-grade shots for personal portfolios, stock photo collections, and other commercial photography purposes.   

In some cases, a lightweight but sturdy travel tripod might also come in handy for early morning or post-sunset ‘blue hour’ shots. But for essentially all visitors arriving during normal daytime hours, a tripod is not needed at all. 

Drone Photography at Shipwreck Beach

As far as I know, drone photography is legal at Navagio Beach, both on the beach itself and up on the clifftop overlook.

The location is far away from the Zakynthos airport, so there are no airspace restrictions to worry about.

For much more on Shipwreck Beach drone photography, see these resources from mavicpilots.com and also jcbvisuals.com.

The Greek Wedding Clifftop Couple

As we were hiking back to the main overlook and parking area, my wife noticed a bride and groom heading out to the point with their event photographer for some wedding photos.

Here’s what that looked like. If anyone reading this knows the couple, please let them know about this post. I’d be happy to share a few photos with them to help augment their wedding album.

greek wedding couple photography navagio beach overlook
In the background, a bride and groom get ready for some wedding photos.
greek wedding couple photography shipwreck beach overlook view point
The wedding photographer gives some posing directions to the bride as the groom stands by.
greek bride photographed above shipwreck beach on zakynthos island greece
The bride gets her turn for some great portraits at this most iconic Greek island location.
groom photographed at navagio beach overlook
Now it’s the groom’s turn for photos, as the bride takes in the scene.

These zoomed-in images might have been impossible to capture (in any reasonable quality) at a distance with just a smartphone camera. The DSLR with true optical telephoto zoom was a big help for these shots, so I was glad I had it with me and ready to shoot as needed.

Navagio Beach Shipwreck History

The rusting ship on Navagio Beach is the remains of the MV Panagiotis, a small cargo ship that was allegedly smuggling cigarettes and possibly other contraband between Turkey and Italy.

As the most popular story goes, during a bad storm in early October 1980, and with the Greek Navy in hot pursuit, the Panagiotis ran aground here and was abandoned by the captain and crew. The ship was then quickly relieved of its valuable cargo and radio equipment by some eager locals.

That’s why this secluded cove is also known today as Smugglers Cove.

Over time, this beach became known as Shipwreck Beach. Booming tourism, social media, and smartphone camera technology have combined to help it become one of the most famous and most photographed beaches in all of Greece.

For more on the history of Navagio Beach and the shipwreck, see this Wikipedia article.

Also, the alleged smuggling activity of the ship and crew is disputed — as noted in this article about the mystery of the shipwreck.

This very interesting 2019 article from the Zakynthos Informer includes several historical photos of the MV Panagiotis in its working days before the shipwreck. It also includes alternative versions of the shipwreck story.

Memorial for Dennis Arvanitakis

Right next to the Greek flag at the edge of the overlook, you’ll spot this beautiful memorial to a young man who departed too soon — Dennis Arvanitakis.

You might at first assume that he passed away here, but that is not the case. Dennis was a young Greek man living and working in Australia. He died in Spain at the age of only 22, according to this article.

He simply loved this spot so much that his family on Zakynthos arranged to place a memorial here.

Rest in peace, Dennis. And best wishes to his family and friends.

dennis arvanitakis memorial above navagio beach
Memorial for Dennis Arvanitakis at the Shipwreck Beach viewpoint.

Here’s a nice tribute video to Dennis that shows the installation of the memorial bench. It includes some very good drone footage as well.

Booking Boat Trips to Navagio Beach

See these options for booking trips to Shipwreck Beach online. There are many packages and price points available here.

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach) Tours and Activities (Viator)

Shipwreck Beach Tours and Day Trips (Expedia)

Shipwreck Beach Excursions and Reviews (TripAdvisor)

If you’re already on the island, you’ll find many groups selling tours right along the street around the harbor edge at Zakynthos Town / Zante Town.

In any case, just be sure to select a trip that goes to the overlook viewpoint if that’s your main interest, or the beach by boat if that’s your top priority. They are not typically combined into the same excursion.

Of course, you can always arrange to do both!

Bonus Tips — Photography & Other

  • Check your smartphone’s free storage/memory capacity before arriving, especially if you plan to shoot a few videos while here.
  • Try your smartphone’s ‘panorama’ camera mode for some really wide shots. Try holding your phone vertically, not horizontally, when panning to capture your panorama shots. It can be a bit challenging to stay steady with the windy conditions here!
  • Back up your Shipwreck Beach overlook photos as soon as possible to your favorite cloud storage service. Do this as soon as you get back to your hotel or other reliable Wi-Fi connection. (Seriously… when are you ever going to get back here again?!)
  • Carry some water and maybe some light snacks with you if you plan to stay here awhile and/or if the official platform viewpoint line is super long.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat if you visit during the prime summer months. There’s not much shade to be found here.
  • There may be a few vendors near the main overlook platform area selling locally-made goods, but no bathrooms for tourists (if I recall correctly).
  • If you like high clifftop views like this, also see the clifftop overlook site near the Keri Lighthouse in the southwest corner of the island. It’s an even closer drive from Zakynthos Town, and not nearly as crowded.

Shipwreck Beach Overlook — Closing Thoughts

We had a great time visiting and photographing this iconic spot on Zakynthos. It was well worth the drive over from Zakynthos Town and back.

If you go, just be sure to check the latest local updates about getting access to the site, as well as the cliffside trail and best viewpoints. As we discovered, even the locals in Zakynthos / Zante Town may not have the latest correct info on this. We took a chance and went anyway, and got lucky as I described above.

Also, just be very careful near the edge of the cliff. Getting too close really won’t get you much better photos, and it’s just not worth the personal risk.

Above all, have fun at this incredible overlook point, and Navagio Beach itself if you decide to visit the beach and shipwreck up close as well. They are both memorable experiences for sure!

For more photos of Greece, also check out my Greece and Greek Islands travel photography page.

For any photo inquiries, get in touch here. Email works best. All images in this post are copyright © 2021 David A. Kamm. (That’s me with the Greek flag below.)

Thanks for stopping by to learn more about this amazing and beautiful site in Greece!

Drop me a comment below if you have any questions or other thoughts to share.

david kamm shipwreck beach viewpoint zakynthos island greece


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2 thoughts on “Visiting Greece’s Shipwreck Beach Overlook Viewpoint”

  1. Parabéns!
    Belo texto e informações cruciais para quem vai visitar a Navagio Beach pela primeira vez, como é o meu caso, vou em Maio deste amo e vou seguir com certeza suas recomendações.
    Saudações!

    Reply
    • Greetings, Walter! Thanks for your comment.

      Good luck on your trip in May! I hope the high cliff overlook and beach areas are both open for you.

      Be sure to check local news sources for any updates on the Shipwreck Beach access situation as your trip approaches. See https://zakynthosinformer.com/ and also https://greekreporter.com/ for possible updates.

      Also, as you probably know already, the cliff overlook experience is separate from taking a boat trip to the beach area.

      Good luck, have fun, and above all…be safe while there!

      Reply

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