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Visit the less-travelled beaches of Greece

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When it comes to beach holidays, Greece is the word, and this isn’t just a bad pun on the John Travolta movie! There are gorgeous, white sand beaches, beaches with golden sands and even black sand beaches to be found in Greece. Many are well known and tend to be crowded. Let’s go a little off the normal beaten beach path and find some more secluded beaches where you can occasionally have the sand all to yourself and often have a shipwreck to marvel at.

Navagio Beach or Shipwreck Beach
Photo by dronepicr on Flickr

1. Navagio Beach or “Shipwreck Beach” - Zakynthos Island

This first piece of paradise lies on the island of Zakynthos, lying off the southwest coast of the Greek mainland. The island has a number of secluded rocky coves which are inaccessible from dry land. Navagio Beach is one of these coves, with a clean stretch of sand, marred only by the rusting remains of a smuggler’s wrecked ship.

The beach also got the name of “Smuggler’s Cove” in 1983, when the Panagiotis crashed ashore. Reports say the ship was being used to smuggle alcohol, cigarettes and possibly even human cargo when authorities caught up with it on the high seas, chasing it down until it went aground on the beach. Since then, the shipwreck remains, gradually rusting and crumbling away on the sand.
Navagio Beach or Shipwreck Beach
Photo by Heather Cowper on Flickr

The beach isn't completed secluded, however. Once people became aware of the beach, they started going off the normal beaten beach path on Zakynthos to visit the unfortunate vessel, but also to enjoy a day on the pristine sand. The beach is only accessible by boat and many tour operators run day trips to Navagio Beach. If you can, try to get there in the morning because the beach can get busy later in the day.

2. "Dimitrios" shipwreck on Laconia Beach

Staying with shipwrecks, and the 1980s for that matter, we now look at the wreck of the "Dimitrios," rusting away on Laconia Beach, near Gythio, Greece and overlooking the Laconian Gulf.

The shipwreck of the Dimitrios on Laconia Beach
Photo by Bgabel on Wikimedia Commons

This ship didn’t belong to smugglers this time, although there are rumors it did. It was originally built as the freight ship "Klintholm" in 1950 in Denmark. A Greek company later acquired the ship and changed the name to "Dimitrios." In 1980, the "Dimitrios" was moored in Gythio and was pretty much abandoned for around one year as it had been found to be unsafe to use. In 1981, the ship broke free during some particularly rough weather and took itself for an aimless sail in the Laconian Gulf until it finally found itself stranded on the beach where it can be seen today.

The wreck of the Dimitrios
Photo by Yintan on Wikimedia Commons

Plenty of rumors surround the boat, saying the ship was used to smuggle illegal tobacco between Italy and Turkey, but this was never proven. These days it has made Laconia a popular beach to visit in Greece and the site is easily accessible from the Provincial Road Skalas-Githiou. However, anyone who manages to climb on board should beware of the rotting floor. 

3. The Sand Dunes of Lemnos

This next bit of sand isn’t actually on a beach, although it was originally beach sand. While Lemnos is a lush and green land, these sand dunes have been called the “Lemnos Desert” due to this unusual sight. Like many other deserts, the sand constantly changes in shape due to the wind, making for incredible dunes, which are locally dubbed “pacchies ammoudies,” which translates to “thick sands.”

The Sand Dunes of Lemnos
Photo by Annaboukorou on Wikimedia Commons

Basically, the yellow sand was carried here by the wind from the nearby beaches and dumped between the two extinct volcanoes the island is made of. While it might look like a desert, local flora and fauna is often seen here, including wild rabbits who like to come out at sundown. White lilies have also been spotted growing out of the sand, while the edges of the desert sport olive trees.

The Sand Dunes of Lemnos from the air
Photo via Google Maps

Visitors likely need a four-wheel drive vehicle to get to the desert, as the only road is paved with dirt. It can also get very hot here, so it’s best to visit in the early morning, or shortly before sunset.

Have fun exploring a different side of the lovely sandy beaches of Greece. While doing so, always remember, take only photos and leave only footprints!

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Latest update: September 29, 2019