From the dunes of Lafonissi and Xerokambos to the tropical shores of Kedrodasos and Chrissi, from the hidden beaches in the wild gorges of Sfakia and Asteroussia to the emerald bays of Triopetra and Plakias, from Balos and Elounda lagoons to the palm groves of Preveli and Vai, from piney beaches of Ierapetra to the long organized strands of the northern coasts, Crete offers the ultimate combination of carefree holidays and natural beauty, which can be finely reflected on its beaches.
The famous lagoon of Balos is located approximately 56km northwest of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos, formed between the Cape Gramvousa and the small Cape Tigani. Balos is surely the mostly photographed beach in Crete, a very favorite subject of all tourist guides for Greece. It is no coincidence that Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited Balos with their private yacht many years ago.
The exotic beach of Falassarna is located 59km west of Chania and 17km west of Kissamos. It’s located in the western part of Cape Gramvousa. At the northern end of the beach are the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Falassarna.
Kedrodasos (i.e. cedar forest) is an amazing beach, located 76km southwest of Chania and 1km east of the famous Elafonissi lagoon. The beach is filled with juniper trees (mistakenly confused with cedars) and sanddunes, reminding of Lebanese beaches.
It is certainly the most famous beach in southern Crete, accepting thousands of visitors every summer. During the 60s and 70s, it was a favorite destination for hippies. On the banks of the Grand River there is a large colony of Theophrastus palm trees, which give the region a sense of an African landscape.
Elafonisi is located 76km west of Chania and 5km south of Chrysoskalitisa Monastery, in the southwesternmost point of Crete. Elafonisi is an oblong, which often "breaks" in two parts by water giving the impression of being a separate island.
To get there you must either cross the gorge, by easy hiking of about 30-50’, or catch a boat from Matala, Agia Galini, or Kali Limenes. We definitely recommend the first option, as the route within the vertical walls of the gorge is breathtaking. On the way you will see the large caves were some hermits still live and the chapel of St. Anthony, with a well outside.
Stavros (i.e. cross) is a seaside village located 17km northeast of Chania, at the northernmost edge of Cape Akrotiri. One characteristic feature of the area is the very steep camel-shaped mountain rising opposite the harbor of Stavros. The mountain is famous, because there were filmed scenes for the film “Zorba the Greek”, where Anthony Quinn danced the famous Sirtaki Dance in 1964. Then Stavros was a small fishing village.
Bali has four beaches, which are formed in sandy coves with nice greenish waters. The beaches are almost always calm, since the direction of Bali is western. They all are suitable for children and well organized. Moreover, water is cool because of the several springs that carry fresh water into the sea.
Stefanou beach is located near the position of Seitan Limania (i.e. satan harbours), 22km northeast of Chania and 2km east of the village Chordaki, at the east side of Akrotiri Cape. The wider area is named Seitan Limania, after the wild landscape, the steep cliffs and the strong sea streams which are very dangerous. Here are situated three parallel narrow coves, well protected from the waves.
Glyka Nera (meaning "sweet water") is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, with deep blue water color and nice pebbles. In 2003, the beach was ranked among the best 20 in Europe by London Times. This is located 43km west of Chora Sfakion and 75km south of Chania. This is called like this because of the fresh water that gushes from the pebbles!
In front of the touristic settlement, there is a nice sandy beach with turquoise waters. The sea surface is mainly flat, because the beach has easterly orientation. while winds in Crete come mainly from west. The beach is organised with umbrellas, sunbeds and water sports.
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.
Plakias is a popular tourist resort, located 36km south of Rethymno city, at the exit of a fertile valley surrounded by high mountains and dense olive groves. Next to it empties the river Kotsifos.
Chrissi island or Gaidouronisi is located 8 miles south of Ierapetra city, in the open Libyan Sea. It is a flat islet very famous for its tropical blue water that cover all possible palette hues of blue and green, the protected forest with large juniper trees and the thousands of broken shells that make the sand pinkish.
Xotikospilio (i.e. the cave of elfs) is located 70km southwest of Chania, 30km south of Kissamos and 1.5 km northwest of Keramoti village. It is named after the small cave next to it where locals have seen elfs!
The first beach you come across east of the port of Hersonissos is a long sandy narrow beach, which is flooded by thousands of people. It is very well organized and close to the amenities of the city. However, it is inappropriate for those who do not like crowds.
The Red Beach is located at location Moudia, 68km southwest of Heraklion and just 800m south of Matala famous resort. To get here you have to walk a trail that begins north of the settlement of Matala and crosses the hill north of Matala. There used to be some signs showing the way.
Potamos is a long sandy beach, very well organized, but less crowded than the main beach of Malia. The region, particularly its east part, is not developed due to the archaeological site. However, in the west of the beach, there are several hotels with small bays in front of them.
The majestic black beach of Aspes is located about 58km south of Heraklion, in one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of Asteroussia Mountains. It is situated 4km east of the hamlet of Treis Ekklisies.
Triopetra consists mainly of two beaches, which are separated by a small peninsula. At the edge of the peninsula, in the sea, three majestic rocks rise. Triopetra is named after these rocks, since it means “Three Rocks”.