Greece: Zakynthos Shipwreck Beach

Alright. Round 2 of trying to make it to this Shipwreck Beach tour. Today it’s at noon instead of 9am. Bless.

I get picked up hitching and make it early to the pick up spot. This is conveniently located in front of a super market, where I go in quickly to buy some fruit for breakfast/lunch.Okay, now I’m outside and waiting… but it’s 3 minutes past my pick up time. Where is the bus? Did I miss it again? Did it come while I was in the shop?! I’ll die.
Some other girls are standing at the side of the road too, and ask me if I’m waiting for the bus. I enthusiastically blurt “YES!”; so happy to know I’m not the only one waiting and excited to make potential boat tour friends. Turns out they’re waiting for the local bus which I have to explain doesn’t abide by the time table listed on the post and may never come. Sorry friends.
Ooooooh, MY bus is here!! See ya neverrrrr.

The bus goes on an epic journey all around the damn island to pick up other passengers before taking us to the town of Zakynthos where we leave from the port. Coulda probably walked faster…but that’s okay! Buddy let’s goooooo!!

There are some Aussie girls my age ahead of me in line to board the boat, and a rowdy group of Brits as well. They all seem a little extra but totally nice enough! I plan to socialize and make friends. Call me a stalker but I needed a strategy to avoid being stuck with the families and babies on the lower deck, so I follow the young people upstairs to the top deck. Now I’m worried about burning but it’s a sacrifice I gotta make.
I’m not sitting in the thick of the party crew, but off to the side among a few other, quieter, young people. I start to layer on the sunscreen, and the girl next to me offers to get my back. So nice! As I turn away from her so she can sunscreen me, the guy to my left is looking me dead in the eye and asks me where I’m from. Yay! Friends!
The girl who does my sunscreen doesn’t really join in the conversation much but has another friend with her and they chat quietly. I chat with this Aussie solo traveler for the whole boat ride which takes us an hour North; straight to the Shipwreck Beach!

He makes a point of saying he avoided the other Aussie girls because they seemed too loud and annoying. So flattered I seem cool enough to speak to… little does he know I was stalking the party crew just 10 minutes before.

We have an hour to spend at the fantastic Shipwreck Beach, which is exactly what it sounds like… a small beach tucked away in an inlet of the sea, boasting a rust covered ship, slowing decaying and sinking into the white sand, surrounded by 100 foot cliffs. Amazing. Probably one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I’m serious. The water is impossibly clear, as most other places in Zakynthos, and fades from royal blue to turquoise as it approaches the shore.

Shipwreck Beach!

The story behind the shipwreck is interesting because there are a few of them. From what I understand, some cigarette smugglers went into the inlet during a storm. Some people say it happened during/after the big earthquake in 1953. Some people say the 80s. Some think it was put there simply to fuel tourism. I think the smuggler’s tale sounds coolest.

The only downside here is, of course, the other tourists. Realistically it isn’t as bad as it could be, there are a few hundred people on the beach, but I make note to my Australian friend, Guy, that I thought it would be worse.
I eat my words, because 10 minutes later a ship carrying probably 400 people arrives. I’m not kidding. We get kinda kicked out of the water to make space for the massive ship to park and let off it’s passengers. The boats seem to have everything timed out quite well so that when one ship arrives another leaves, but the gamble is on what size ship is arriving I suppose.

Boats waiting to pick up passengers – clearly not the 400 person boats

We’re told not to climb on the rusty shell of a ship on the beach. I want to go explore anyway! Our guide warned us against it because if you fall or like, cut yourself on the rust you might get tetanus or something. Blah blah blah, see ya later. Guy refuses to join me but I see other people on the ship so it can’t really be THAT dangerous, right? Don’t worry, I wear shoes.
The shine wears RIGHT off when I have to wait in a queue of people waiting to climb the rusty ladder. I don’t know. doesn’t feel much like exploring anymore when I have to follow behind a bunch of people single file. I wait for a bit but get over it. No tetanus today.

A mother’s nightmare – Tetanus city!

The hour passes and we board our boat. Next stop is to another set of caves. I’m stoked. The highlight of my day yesterday, hands down, so I’m keen. This boat operator isn’s as cool though, and won’t let me jump off the roof. Instead I have to wait in yet another line to climb down a boring ladder. Or guide gives us some fun information about a species of seal that lives here in the caves of Zakynthos. Unfortunately, there are only 38 “pieces” left on the island and they are going extinct (pieces I assume means like… individual seals. Only 38 seals left). More importantly, the species is called the “monachus monachas“. Guy’s new favourite animal.

Once in the water, I head straight for the cave…. which is much more mysterious that the one in which I swam yesterday. Some of the English/Aussie party crew have headed over, but no one has been brave enough to swim into the darkness. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel here. I think I’m brave, but once I get too far inside I’m kinda scared. Sea monsters! Bats! How deep is the water!? Are there cave sharks in the mediterranean?? I remind myself that our tour boat wouldn’t have dropped us off in front of a blood-thirsty monachas monachas seal-shark-monster cave, and force myself to swim ahead. I encourage people to follow me, not because I care if they come, but because if I get eaten alive in the cave I’d like some witnesses/saviours. A few of us all swim through to the end, where the water stops, but there is a small crevasse leading deeper into the cave; just big enough for a human to fit through on foot. That’s 100% too much for me, but one guy hops out and tries to step in. No one has a torch so he’s going in there totally blind. He can’t really find his footing and comes back, which I genuinely believe is for the best because… wtf is back there? Haven’t you seen the decedents? Caves are creepy.
To be fair, this cave is rad af, but I’d prefer it with a sliver of light, thank you.
I swim back out to safety, and float around near the boat, taking in the sun still shining over the cliffs, and reminding myself of how fantastic my life is. The world is a beautiful place.

Clear turquoise waters outside the cave

the boat ride back takes us past a sulphur beach, which I can assure you I smell before we’re actually told. I had no idea, but the sulphur acts as a cleaning mechanism for the water which is part of the reason everything here is so fabulous. Similar to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, sulphuric, mineral filled water like this is supposed to make your skin fantastic and soft. There is a small restaurant on a short cliff above the beach, and some genius has come up with the idea to install a pulley system, where sun bathers can place an order to the restaurant with a server on the beach, who then calls it up and has it delivered down in a basket. Give whoever came up with that a damn raise.

Once back on land, I leave Guy at the port, because he’s staying at an Air BnB in the town which he can most certainly walk to way faster than the bus would ever take to get him there. He’s heading to Athens tomorrow and will be gone by the time I arrive, so our friendship was short lived,  but he provided me with some great entertainment for the day! I hang out with a nice Dutch couple my age who were also on the boat, and are stuck with me for the hour long drive home. They’re also leaving tomorrow. The bus does a lot of zig-zagging from town to town to drop people at their respective hotels, which is the only downside to the tour, I’d say.

When I finally make it home I head to Lidl for some basic groceries and relax with my house mates. Abi has a friend from home here to visit, so our house occupancy is growing. Another WorkAway girl is due to arrive in the next few days too, to share my big king sized bed. I don’t mind this AT ALL, but I’m not sure what kind of work we’ll really have for her to do. Like I said, this is the MOST chill WorkAway ever. I barely do anything and I don’t LIKE doing nothing. I like to feel as if I’m earning my keep, but as long as the house is clean, it seems Abi is just social af and happy to host and have people around.
There have been no more reports of knife fights across the street either, which is cool, but I’m still looking to get over to Kefalonia.

Today’s Spending:
Shipwreck Tour: 22€
Breakfast: 1.50€ for two pieces of fruit and a big water at a supermarket
Lidl: 10€ food for some lunches/snacks
Total: 33.50€

Accommodation: Free – WorkAway
Other meals: Free – WorkAway. Abi cooks a delicious parmesan chicken.
Transport: Free – Walking/Hitch-hiking/Tour Bus

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