ATHENS – Greece has deemed Navagio Beach on Zakynthos unsafe for visitors due to the risk of landslides. The horseshoe-shaped spot holds a shipwreck and is surrounded by cliffs as high as 200 meters (656 feet). The ban was extended after an inspection by the country’s Anti-Seismic Planning and Protection Organization (OASP) detected a significant risk of landslides due to strong erosion on the surrounding slopes, according to SchengenVisaInfo.com. The decision was made after a meeting of several ministries, the Greek Police, Coast Guard, and the Region of the Ionian Islands. The safety of residents and travelers is the top priority, said Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias.
Navagio Beach is as notorious for hooliganism, largely driven by drunken British tourists, as it is for its beauty. The island has become infamous for violence, including the murder of American visitor Bakari Henderson in 2017. This decision is a blow for the coming summer tourist season as the beach is one of the favorites in Greece, with people loving to pose next to the rusted shipwreck in the middle of the beach and enjoy its waters and unique scenery.
In 2018, seven people, including two children, were injured due to a rockfall, and a 34-year-old Czech woman suffered a spinal injury. The beach was also closed for a time in September 2022 after a nearby earthquake. Tourists are allowed to go to the beach by water, but they cannot be on the beach or swim there. It is unclear how this ban will be enforced or if the Coast Guard will station a vessel there to keep watch.
Navagio Beach was named after a powerful storm that caused the Panagiotis ship to run aground in October 1980. It was discovered to be carrying smuggled cigarettes and alcohol, but the captain and crew were acquitted. The shipwreck has only added to the beach’s lure.