The Prettiest View I've Ever Seen in Zakynthos, Greece
I basically came to Zakynthos island for one thing and one thing only: the insanely beautiful viewpoint of Navagio Beach aka Shipwreck Beach because a massive shipwreck lies on the white sand. I had obsessed over photos of it for years prior, and would stop at nothing until I got to see it with my own eyes. And it didn't disappoint, it was indescribably more glorious in person. But come to find out, Zakynthos also has lots more to offer visitors than this viewpoint.
I arrived to Zakynthos with a really interesting plane experience. I bought what I thought was a direct flight from Corfu, another Greek island, but when I showed up at the airport, I realized that this was more like a bus than a plane. Our tiny plane stopped at several small islands every 10 minutes on its route, would let a couple people off, then continuing passengers would stay in their seats and wait for their stop. I really got a kick out of this, I had never seen anything like it before! I also still had cell phone service because we were flying so low to ground level!
I was already in a great mood from this whimsical flying experience, so I knew the days to come were about to be amazing. I rented a car at the airport, since it's pretty much your only option to navigate the island (public transportation is non-existent) and set off for my accommodation in Zakynthos town. To my displeasure, there are currently (Summer 2017) no hostels on the island. I'm sure this will change as it becomes more popular with tourists looking for budget accommodation, but I found a pretty cheap hotel and made do.
A walk around Zakynthos town proved that this island is much more than it's world-famous beach. I was pleasantly surprised to find a charming, old town complete with white-stone streets and buildings, beautiful churches, and small-town European city feel. I was there in high season, yet the town still didn't feel overrun with tourists, and definitely hadn't lost its local charm like some other Greek destinations have at the hand of mass tourism.
The next day I set out mid-afternoon for the Navagio Beach viewpoint. It takes around an hour to drive here from Zakynthos town, but its a beautiful drive among mountains and coastline. It's also extremely easy to find, just search in Google Maps "Shipwreck Beach Viewpoint" and it will take you to the exact location! There's ample parking on site, too.
Once you're at the viewpoint, there's designated areas for safer viewing with a platform and fences that will prevent any accidents from happening. Unfortunately, many tourists have died from falling off the steep cliff face while trying to get better views of the beach below. With that being said, as long as you exercise caution, I would advise to venture beyond the designated viewing area - there's a trail that goes on for perhaps half a mile and provides more private and more visually stunning views of the famous beach. Wear appropriate shoes and stay away from the very edge of the cliff, aka use common sense!
Every minute of planning and every dollar spent to get to Zakynthos was beyond worth it once I saw that view. The water was a blue so bright that it almost seemed as if it was lit up by electricity. I've traveled far and wide trying to find the best beaches/tropical locations in the world, and this view surpassed everything else by a landslide. Seriously, go see for yourself!
You can also visit the beach below and relax on the sand - but it's only accessible by expensive boat tours. I'd heard its crowded with tourists plus didn't have an extra $150 lying around for a boat tour, so I opted to just view it from above which was more than enough for me. Zakynthos also has other decent beaches, but none of them compare to Navagio/Shipwreck beach!
Where's the prettiest beach you've ever been to in the world?