The perfect seashores in Crete, from standard sandy coastlines to secluded hideaways

Crete has a few of Greece’s finest sandy seashores – many removed from developed areas, so you possibly can actually get pleasure from a distant vacation on the sand.

Though virtually each important seaside will get busy in July and August, you possibly can normally stroll just some minutes away to discover a patch of heaven sans crowds. With just a few notable exceptions, the water at Crete’s seashores is normally calm and good for swimming and watersports.

This is our decide of the highest eight seashores in Crete. 

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Crowds of beachgoers collect on the sand at Elafonissi Lagoon © Lucian BOLCA / Shutterstock

For white sand and panoramic views, head to Elafonisi

Glowing white sand with a pinkish hue makes Elafonisi a standout in a nation of islands the place pebbly, gray seashores are frequent. Its shallow, azure waters encompass an islet simply offshore that’s a straightforward stroll.

Cliffs, dunes and semi-secluded coves are highlights right here. Beat the summer season crowds by strolling 1km (0.6 miles) alongside the coastal path east to Kedrodasos Seaside. In any other case, climb the dunes on the islet for panoramic views of this complete magical spot.

In summer season, there isn’t any scarcity of refreshments, and you will find umbrella, lounger and equipment leases on the primary seaside. Rare ferries hyperlink Elafonisi to seashores to the east alongside the southwest coast. Enterprise additional afield for extra solitude, or come within the low season when the water dazzles with myriad factors of sunshine and the one sounds are the wind and waves.

Get off the overwhelmed observe with a visit to Balos

The drive alone to the seashores at Balos makes a go to right here a should. The distant Gramvousa Peninsula on the far northwest tip of Crete boasts cliffside views and wild rocky terrain.

Lagoons encompass the primary seaside with shallow waters brimming with tiny, darting fish and cagy shellfish. There are two simply reached islets proper offshore (stroll by way of the placid waters): Agria (wild) and Imeri (tame). The latter contains the ruins of a Sixteenth-century Venetian fortress that has nice views throughout the seashores and lagoons. Providers listed here are few past umbrella and lounger leases.

Simply attending to Balos is an journey. By street, you want 4WD to navigate the 12km (7.5 miles) dust observe from the village of Kalyviani. From a tiny automotive park with a snack stand, it is a 1.2km (0.7 miles) hike down the sandy cliffs to the seaside. A good higher possibility is the day-trip boat from Kissamos, which features a few scenic stops alongside the peninsula. Even in summer season, there are few individuals at Balos earlier than 11am and after 4pm.

A beautiful sunrise in the Greek town of Paleochora
Paleochora has all of it: spend the day exploring its streets, then calm down on one in every of two seashores © blyjak /Getty Photographs/iStockphoto

Wander round Paleohora, then hit the seaside

The liveliest city on the southwest coast boasts two seashores, every with a reputation that tells you all you’ll want to find out about its character: Pahia Ammos Seaside (Sandy Seaside) and Halikia Seaside (Pebble Seaside).

Word that “vigorous” doesn’t suggest something near manic. Paleohora nonetheless has a village really feel, with slim, stone lanes meandering previous cafes, tavernas and bars. The latter are recognized for his or her reside Cretan music. Providers abound, and households can hire gear for stress-free days on the seaside. The sports-minded can windsurf off Pahia Ammos Seaside. Hikers will discover coastal trails resulting in much more quiet seashores and numerous historic and archeological websites.

Few can resist the pull of the commanding Venetian citadel, which dates to the thirteenth century. Do not count on a fortress, nonetheless, as centuries of battles have made it extra break than a redoubt.

Paleohora is value a go to year-round and is well reached by bus from Hania.

Surf the waves in Falasarna

Sunsets dazzle all year long on the lengthy seaside in Falasarna, which faces instantly west throughout azure water. Waves listed here are recurrently the most important in Crete, which draw individuals able to trip them, whether or not on a board or freestyle. Units of rollers crash into the sand from the open Mediterranean.

The sand has the identical pinkish-white hue that makes Elafonisi to the south well-known. Tavernas, cafes, modest resorts and equipment rental stands line the shore in summer season. Olive timber and greenhouses type the backdrop. A straightforward 2km (1.2 miles) stroll alongside a mud path takes you to the location of Historic Falasarna, which dates to the 4th century BCE. Stones mark out the place partitions protected the previous port.

Like most seashores in Crete, Falasarna will get busy in summer season, however there are extra remoted and quiet sandy coves north of the lengthy, important seaside. Buses listed here are summer-only. Missing a year-round village, Falasarna is a beautiful and lonely escape in winter.

A view of the beach at Vai, Crete, Greece
Be part of the crowds on the seaside or head off on a extra secluded tour in Vaï, Crete © Nick Brundle Pictures / Getty Photographs

Discover the cliffs at Vaï

Get right here earlier than the builders! An area monastery that owns a lot of the land at Vaï, on the northeast finish of Crete, is intent on constructing resorts, however within the meantime, you possibly can attempt to catch falling dates from the most important pure palm forest in Europe. Botanists assume that these timber are a sub-species distinctive to Crete. Guests simply assume they’re magnificent – they provide a little bit of lush tropical attraction on an island higher recognized for its sun-drenched, semi-arid expanses.

The seaside at Vaï is small however completely framed by turquoise waters lapping on the edges of the inlet. It is a beautiful setting and one value exploring past the primary seaside. Trails result in cliffside walks, vista factors and extra secluded, clothing-optional coves.

From Could to October, there are common buses right here from Sitia, 24km (14.9 miles) to the west. Experience these to keep away from the trouble of the traffic-clogged entry street to the automotive park.

Take a dip in a freshwater pool at Preveli

On the finish of a gorge on the south coast of central Crete, the seaside at Preveli is a legend on the island. The river Megalopotamos flows into the ocean right here and you’ll wander the river banks taking dips in contemporary water swimming pools shaded by palm timber. Elegant!

The primary seaside space has the standard umbrella and snack distributors. There is no everlasting village, so out of season, your entire space is sort of devoid of individuals. It is a steep stroll down from the automotive park, however as soon as on the sand, it is value strolling a bit extra because the furthest reaches are a few of the most interesting and sandiest.

Few individuals go to Preveli with out additionally stopping at Moni Preveli, an historic monastery that sits excessive on a promontory wanting throughout the Libyan Sea. The chapel is a spectacle of glittery paintings and gilded artifacts. A museum covers the numerous struggles for Cretan independence that have been centered right here.

Greece, Crete, woman practicing yoga on the beach at sunset
Agios Pavlos presents a quiet retreat © Westend61 / Getty Photographs

Discover your peace at Agios Pavlos

Not removed from Rethymno, the seaside at Agios Pavlos is correct out of central casting: a beautiful sandy crescent surrounded by rugged cliffs and lapped by good blue water. This whole space is free from mega-resorts and exudes the kind of elegant calm that pulls mystics and yoga fanatics. A number of tavernas supply languid lunches and a scattering of low-key resorts means you possibly can cheerily wave farewell to the day-trippers because the solar units over a seaside you possibly can then virtually name your personal.

Residents compete with different beachside villages in Crete by claiming that this was the spot the place Icarus and Daedalus took their historic flight too near the solar. With your personal ft firmly on earth, there are hikes and walks over the excessive dunes to much more remoted seashores.

For household enjoyable, head to Karavostasi

You need not go to Indonesia for Bali – Crete has its personal. Bali is sort of equally distant from Iraklio (also called Heraklion) and Rethymno however feels worlds aside from these cities. It is residence to a collection of seashores in little coves alongside the corrugated shore. Karavostasi is good for households. It is quiet, sheltered and good for inexperienced swimmers prepared for his or her first dip. The sand is well mounded into castles and some summer season distributors hire out watersports gear.

For a extra energetic vibe, head south alongside the small bay to Livadi Seaside, which has tavernas blasting pulsing music for a nonstop celebration. There are myriad decisions for meals, drink and enjoyable.