The iconic Shipwreck beach or Navagio beach, in Zakynthos, Greece will remain closed to tourists this summer for fear of landslides, authorities on the island announced on Wednesday.
The beach recently voted as best in the world, is a popular tourist destination famous for its signature shipwreck.
The decision to prohibit access to the Navagio beach was recommended by a team of experts from the Anti-Seismic Planning and Protection Organization (OASP), following a visit to the site on March 8, as part of a regular safety check.
The OASP team said there was a significant risk of landslides due to the erosion of the surrounding cliffs.
“The safety of residents and visitors is above everything else and the decision was taken taking into account the new scientific data of the OASP and its President, Professor Efthymios Lekkas, given the large number of visitors in the area during the tourist season,” Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said.
Navagio has already been off limits to locals and visitors since last September, after a 5.4-magnitude earthquake caused large rocks from the surrounding cliffs to fall into the bay.
In 2018, seven people were injured in a landslide on the same beach. At the time, Greek authorities shut down the beach, and it remained off-limits for tourists until April 2019.
The safety of the beach will be reassessed twice a year.
How Navagio beach in Zakynthos, Greece got its name
The remote beach got its new name in October 1980, when a huge storm forced the ship “Panagiotis” to run aground there. Prior to that time, the beach had been known as Agios Georgios.
It was rumored that the ship was smuggling contraband cigarettes and alcohol when it ran aground. The ship was abandoned, and the captain and some crew members were arrested. They were later cleared of all smuggling charges by the court.
At the time, locals feared that the shipwreck would ruin the reputation of the beach and the island itself – but little did they know. The shipwreck has since been visited by millions and photographed by just as many.
Last summer concerns were raised about the level of pollution on the famous beach.
Large volumes of litter were left behind by tourists, spoiling the beautiful view. The issue is worsened by the lack of provision for regular litter removal.
The public discussion that lead to the private cleanup initiative was triggered by a photo of the litter piled up on the beach, shared by environmentalist Michalis Bakas on Facebook.
“I can’t understand how some people pay money to visit one of the world’s most beautiful beaches for a few hours, then leave their litter behind,” he wrote.