Vai beach

(28 votes, average 4.29 out of 5)

Vai is located 94km east of Agios Nikolaos and 24km east of Sitia, on the eastern coast of Crete. It is the most famous beach in eastern Crete, as its main feature is the large palm grove with the Cretan Date Palm (Phoenix theophrasti). Its name derives from the word vai, meaning palm in Greek. The palm grove is the largest in Europe with approximately 5000 trees, while there are smaller collonies in other parts of Crete and in the Canary Islands. According to the legend, the trees have grown from discarded date stones thrown into the sea by Saracen pirates. However, the palm grove is 2000 years old and the pirates are more recent. Thus this hypothesis has changed and the Saracens have been replaced with Phoenicians, that governed the Mediterranean Sea 20 centuries ago.

The heavenly palm grove is planted in a wide valley watered by the local river for centuries. An exotic sandy beach with whitish sand is formed near the shore, backed by the edenic palm forest, reminding of African and Caribbean seascapes. The entire region is owned by the powerful Toplou Monastery, which is the largest landowner in eastern Crete. The 15th-century monastery is built like a fortress, and hosts a great collection of Byzantine icons.

Vai was totally unknown until the early 1970s, when a popular commercial for the Bounty chocolate with coconut was filmed here, using the magical background of palm trees. In the advert, coconuts were falling from trees, however Vai palms produce dates. Consequently coconuts had to be falsely hung to create the right impression.  The ad made this unknown earthly paradise renowned throughout the world. Thus, hundreds of hippies started to stay here on their holidays. In the 1980s, when hippism faded out, Vai was invaded by backpackers and rapidly degenerated into a rubbish-strewn campground. The palm grove was consequently fenced off and proclaimed a conservation area, being open to public only during the day light.

The beach has whitish sand and flat turquoise waters. In a few places, there are slippery smooth rocks, while on the opposite there are small islets that beautify the landscape. The beach is slightly organized (whatever the protection scheme allows) with umbrellas, showers, water sports, canteens and a tavern. The closest rooms to let are located outside the protected area (15'-25 'walk). If you want to stay isolated, there is a lovely sandy beach 5 minutes north of Vai, while another option is the idyllic Psili Ammos in the south.

If you come by car then you should leave it in the parking area. From Vai's car park, it's a 10-minute clamber over rocks to the beach. There are also buses running from Sitia and all travel agencies organize daily tours.

The only drawback of Vai is that from the first moment you think that someone wants to dip into your pocket. Indeed, prices for parking, umbrellas and the canteen are too high. Moreover, the tavern is illegally structured, but unfortunately the greek state seems unable to react against the owner - bogeyman called Toplou Monastery, verifying the saying that priests govern Greece. However, Vai is one of the beaches that should definitely be visited by the first comers in Crete.

hotels booking Crete


If you cannot see the photos, click here.


Blue Crete

Add comment

Security code

Your Contribution

Don't hesitate to upload your own photos or make any comment on missing information.

Symbol Explanation

Water Color

 Turquoise Water Color

 Deep Blue Water Color

 Normal Blue Water Color

 Green-Blue Water Color


Beach Style

 White Sand

 Normal Sand

 Coarse Sand



Wave Style

 Flat Surface

 Small Waves

 Normal Waves

 Large Waves


Water Depth

 Shallow Beach

 Normal Depth

 Deep Water


Crowd Information

 Secluded / Quiet Beach

 Normal Crowds

 Crowded Beach


Water Temperature

 Very Cool





 Accommodation nearby

 Food / Water nearby

 Umbrellas / Sunbeds

 Water Sports



 Blue Flag


 Nudism Friendly Beach

 Palm Trees

 Camping Friendly Beach

 Suggested for Snorkelling

 Natural shade (cave, trees, etc.)

 Sea Turtle nesting



 Public Transport

 Car Access

 Dirt Track

 Access by boat

 Trekking required

 Handicap friendly