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Zakynthos’ Shipwreck Beach to Reopen with Limited Access

Navagio beach Zakynthos
Zakynthos’ famous Navagio beach. Credit: Jimzoun / Wikimedia Commons

The famous shipwreck of Zakynthos will be made accessible to the general public again, albeit with restrictions.

It was reported on Wednesday that a ministerial decision would approve access to the shipwreck by visitors to Zakynthos but only by sea. Access to the shipwreck and the surrounding area was completely banned due to safety concerns stemming from potential landslides.

Passenger boats will be allowed to approach Navagio Bay where the shipwreck is situated at a distance of approximately 40 meters, according to reports.

Limited access to return

Access to the picturesque shipwreck situated on the stunning beach of Navagio Bay was closed on March 16 after the area was deemed unsafe due to the risk posed by landslides.

Landslides occur in the area relatively frequently, especially if there is heightened seismic activity. The water in the surrounding bay, which is usually a pristine turquoise color, turned white in October 2018 after one such landslide.

The safety of visitors to Navagio Bay has become a concern for the authorities in recent years. In 2017, two tourists lost their lives in separate incidents when they fell off the cliff trying to take selfies in front of the Zakynthos shipwreck.

Access to the shipwreck and surrounding area is expected to resume in a limited capacity on October 31, later this year.

Visitors will be allowed to swim in the bay at a specified distance; however access to the beach itself will still be reportedly forbidden.

The decision to admit partial access was reached jointly by the Ministers of Citizen Protection, Maritime and Island Policy, Tourism and Climate Crisis based on recommendations made by Professor Efthymios Lekkas.

“If any accident happens this will be disastrous,” said Lekkas, who is the president of the Organization for Antiseismic Planning and Protection (OASP).

The Zakynthos shipwreck

The site in question is perhaps the most photographed shipwreck in the world, largely owing to beautiful surroundings. Lying upright on a sandy beach on the north-western coast of Zakynthos since October of 1980, the wreck of the “Panagiotis” is visited by millions of tourists.

Despite fears that the wreck would be a blot on the otherwise pristine beach, picturesque “Shipwreck Beach” has become the very symbol of Zakynthos.
It has been rumored that the ship was smuggling contraband, including cigarettes and alcohol, when it ran aground on what was originally known as “Agios Georgios Beach,” during stormy weather and low visibility.

The ship was immediately abandoned by its crew, and some of them, mostly Greek sailors, were arrested, along with their captain. However, they were all later cleared of the smuggling charges.

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