It’s not often you can say that you went somewhere based on a picture you saw on Getty Images, but today was that day. At work last week, I was idly browsing for images of ‘snorkelling’, and this mysterious shipwreck appeared. “I wonder where that is”, I thought. I dug a little deeper and found out it was in Greece, near the small town of Epanomi, on the Halkidiki peninsula. As luck would have it, it was pretty much en route between Thessaloniki and our Halkidiki stop, so on a whim I decided I absolutely HAD to go here.
Stolen from Reddit.
The wreck is, according to a few local sources, the remains of a 1970s ship that was carrying out ‘soil transfer works’, when it ran into trouble and hit the sandbank. The workers abandoned it and it’s been left to rust in the crystal clear water ever since. To get here, you won’t find it easily on the Sat Nav – the best thing to do is head for the town of Epanomi, then follow the signs for ‘Potamos’ (or, as it’s written in Greek, ποταμός – meaning ‘river’). Keep driving along the sandy roads, near the end of the peninsula, until you see the shipwreck – we didn’t and had to walk miles.
We parked up in the dunes and set up shop in a comfy beach bar, Melissa. The sunbeds were free, but you had to order something – no hardship when it’s a beautiful day, and there are cocktails on offer.
Tasted far more like tequila than anything else.
From my sunbed, I saw something poking out the water, and was eager to get a closer look:
These look like masts, right?
I put on my unflattering pink goggles and dived in. It’s about 250 metres out to sea, so only for strong swimmers. The sea, however, was calm and beautifully transparent, so you can still enjoy the beautiful waters from the shallows, even if you don’t fancy the whole adventure.
Breathlessly breaststroking my way over, the water got darker and darker, and visibility under the surface was pretty poor. I grasped onto the net when I got there, despite my fear of crabs and other sinister sea life lurking in the depths. That’s strange, I thought, this is a metal pole I’m clinging to. We swum a little further about to investigate. Silvery fish started leaping out of the water around us. Really weird.
It quickly transpired that we’d expended all our energies swimming out to a saltwater fish farm. The actual shipwreck was another kilometre or so along the beach. My bad.
A little tired, it was back to the beach bar for another drink and some more sunbathing…
Me? Using daring swimsuit photos to attract more readers? Never…
We drove the last kilometre through the dunes and parked, this time where we could see the wreck straight in front of us. The sand definitely isn’t as nice this end of the beach, but it is completely free to use and of course, the water is still beautiful.
The wreck is much closer to shore than the fish farm – you can pretty much wade out to it.
Donning my goggles again, I ducked under the water for a glimpse. It’s quite surreal and ominous, seeing this great hulking, dark ship resting against the white sea bed. The black bow was a particular juxtaposition – its rigid, straight frame really doesn’t fit in with the turquoise waves and the colourful shoals of fish that now call the wreck their home. For the best views of the ship, head around the bow and funnel to the left, and you’ll see what remains of the boat deck.
If you’re really brave and not terrified of octopus/crabs/lobsters/jellyfish (I’m not actually sure if any of these are actually there, as I was too scared to get really close), you can dive inside the wreck, if you’re feeling particularly Lara Croft-ish. Check out this video on Youtube to see what it’s like.
With a head full of salty water and delicious cocktails, it was time to head for our next stop – Halkidiki, specifically the Sithonia peninsula. This is a region famous for wine, olives and beaches, so I expect over the coming days I’ll be eating my weight in olive products, enjoying the odd glass of the local red and trying to find the very best beaches in the area.
All of this, naturally, is a part of my agenda to promote Greece as the best country in the world. Ever. Come and see it for yourself.