The Skeleton Coast of Namibia

When you read or hear about Namibia, one of the first things mentioned is the Skeleton Coast. Tales of shipwrecks littering the beaches are rife in Namibia. 

skeleton coast ship wreck

With a coastline of approx.1570 kilometres, Namibia’s shores border South Africa and the Orange River, as well as Angola and the Kunene River in the North.

Of this total distance only about 400 kilometres is open to the public, without a permit. The rest of Namibia’s pristine coast either falls in national parks, or under the jurisdiction of De Beers Marine, South of Luderitz.

The national parks coastlines can be visited if you are in possession of a valid permit.

The area that is open to the public stretches from the Namib Naukluft Park boundary to the Skeleton Coast Park in the north. There is a good road system linking the different towns and areas along the coast. Between Walvis Bay and Henties Bay lie several wrecks that can be visited.  

The first wreck to be seen lies just south of Swakopmund. Although much of the top structure has been removed, there is still a bit of the hull visible. The newest wreck along the Namibian coast lies 50 kilometres north of Swakopmund.

It is a fishing trawler that stranded in 2009, and thus far no recovery of any sorts could save this abandoned wreck. It can be seen from the road, so will not be missed when travelling to Henties Bay.

The “Winston”, in contrast, is the oldest wreck along this stretch of coastline. Lying about 90 kilometres north of Henties Bay, it is also the wreck furthest away that can be visited.

There are much more wrecks along the coastline, but most of them are submerged, and unless you have exact positions, it will be difficult to find them. Human skeletons along the coast also exist.
Their locations are a different story.
While there must have been quite a number at some stage, most have been removed for burial or to be studied.  In the Kuiseb delta there are still some that can be seen, but covered with sand, they are tough to discover.

The wrecks are but one of the many interesting things that can be found along the Namibian coast. The beauty of the huge Atlantic waves, sunsets on the beach or just sitting in a nice restaurant like The Raft in Walvis Bay, all form part of the Skeleton Coast experience.

  • July 23, 2019
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