Zakynthos, also known by its Italian name ‘Zante’, is the most southerly island in the Ionian and home to the famous ‘Shipwreck’ Bay.
We have never visited this island before as there never seemed time to go during our fortnight holidays, and there has always been plenty of other beautiful places to see closer by.
We took the opportunity to sail south from Ithaca and headed first to Agios Nikolaos. This is a small harbour on the north of Zakinthos where we moored for the night. There were lots of day trip boats, glass bottom boats and coaches taking people to the nearby tourist attractions.
The following day we sailed 10 nm down the west coast which was full of steep cliffs and caves.
We eventually arrived at the famous Navagio (Shipwreck) Bay, which is the site of the 1980 shipwreck. Accessed only by boat this is one of the most photographed beaches of Greece. The bay is a horseshoe shape with turquoise water framed by towering white cliffs and a perfect sandy beach. As if this wasn’t enough a shipwreck has been placed like a prop in the middle of the beach making it a photographers dream. Unfortunately, our photographic skills do not do it full justice!
As it is a very popular tourist attraction, we arrived early just as the sun was rising behind the tall cliffs to try and beat some of the crowds. We anchored in the bay, which was already busy with a constant stream of day trip boats and ferries, and went ashore. The beach was patrolled by a ‘traffic warden’ (who liked to blow his whistle a lot), organising the coming and goings of all the regular tourist boats and their passengers, he wasn’t too happy when we pulled Fred up on ‘his’ beach!
Although there are many stories of what happened and speculation around the date, most seem to believe that MV Panayiotis washed up on the shores in October 1980.
One popular theory is that the owner of the MV Panayiotis, Haris Kompotheklas, transported smuggled cigarettes, wine and even humans from the ports of Yugoslavia and Albania. Because of unexpected bad weather conditions, he was forced to ground the ship in the bay. While he and his crew tried to salvage the cargo, part of it was carried away by the waves, bringing bounty to villagers who then hid the goods. When the authorities got wind of the incident, they came and arrested the captain and his crew, and sold the remaining goods through auction.
Over the years that followed the boat has sunk into the sand. Today, only parts of this rusty boat are exposed, creating spectacular views.
After a while on the beach and having a good look around the remains of the shipwreck, we went back to Ziggy, there was a lot of swell due to all the boats speeding around us, it was not particularly comfortable rolling around in the waves so it was time to leave.
Some areas of the sea and coast around Zakynthos are in a protected marine park. This is where the rare caretta caretta (Loggerhead) sea turtles lay their eggs. They are endangered creatures and many of the beaches prohibit anchoring so as not to disturb them or their eggs. Therefore, we decided to head north, back up to Cephalonia and enjoyed a fantastic sail before we found a nice protected bay on the south of the island to anchor for the night.