Smugglers Cove is Zante's most famous landmark – if you only do one excursion, make sure this is the place you visit. The abandoned hulk of the ill-fated smuggling ship MV Panagiotis lies at the centre of the lovely, white sands, giving rise to the site’s alternative name of Navagio, or Shipwreck Beach.
You can't reach Smuggler's Cove on foot, it's only accessible by boat, so make a day of it and visit Smugglers Cove on Navagio Beach.
A place of stunning beauty in its own right, surrounded on three sides by tall limestone cliffs, there is a wrecked hull of a ship lying in the centre of the beach. The shipwrecked smuggling vessel called the Panagiotis ran aground here in 1980.
Enclosed, right to the shoreline by steep cliffs, the beach on Zante’s north-west coast, is only accessible by boat and there are plenty of organised tours available, some picking up parties from hotels, others sailing from harbours like Porto Vromi Maries or Micro Nisi.
Most tours last around three hours, allowing time for swimming in the beautifully clear waters at the beach – and it’s fun to see swimmers’ bodies appear to turn blue while they are in the sea.
Take in other landmarks such as the Blue Caves, the hidden Sfogio Beach and a rocky cliff edge, said to represent the profile of the sea god Poseidon.
At least one operator includes a coastal coach tour to see panoramic views from the Alykes Hills, from where you can see Kefalonia and the Greek mainland, and others even have pirate-themed events on board. Check with your hotel.
Smugglers Cove has no loungers, parasols, toilets or refreshment facilities, and the only shade is cast when the sun is behind the cliffs, so take water, a snack and suitable clothes, including sun hats.
Some of the history of the wreck is disputed, but it is known the 157ft, 450-ton ship, originally known as Saint Bedan, was built in Scotland in 1937.
Passing through a succession of Greek owners in the 1960s and 70s, it is claimed that the vessel, by then the Panagiotis, was being used by cigarette smugglers, en route from Turkey, when she ran aground in storms in October 1980 while being pursued by the Greek navy.