Asterousia Range is the southernmost massif in Europe that stretches from Matala to Anapodaris River. The wild beauty and the remoteness of most places are the basic reasons to attract many visitors that believe that this is the place with the best beaches in Crete.
Dermatos is located 64km southeast of Heraklion and 4km east of Tsoutsouras. It is formed in a small valley on the western banks of the river Anapodaris. Traces of a Minoan settlement have been found in the area.
Pourgonero beach is located at Krassas area, just 500m east of the port of Tsoutsouras, in the area where the houses of the settlement stop. It is actually the eastern part of Tsoutsouras bay, located in front of the hill Sarakinos. According to the legend, the eternal sarcophagus of King Minos, the mythical king of Crete, is burried below this place.
Tsoutsouras or Tsoutsouros (deriving from the Venetian word Zuzzuro) is located 63km south of Heraklion, at the exit of the imposing Gorge of Mindris. It is built on the site of the ancient city Inatos, which was the port of Priansos (located near Kasteliana village).
Maridaki is a seaside hamlet on the eastern side of Asterousia Mount, 65km south of Heraklion and in the west side of Tsoutsouras Bay. Despite the short distance from Tsoutsouras (2-3km), there is no direct road linking the two settlements (except a footpath). The only thing that separates Tsoutsouras and Maridaki is a very steep mountain with numerous caves and karstic formations.
The most common way to get there is to drive in the rugged dirt road that starts from the village Ahendrias and ends at the Monastery of St. Nikitas after 15km. The fascinating route runs along steep cliffs and wild sharp rocks, a characteristic landscape of the Asterousia Mountains.
The beach, which is in one of the most isolated areas of the island, has beautiful pebbles and is surrounded by tall vertical cliffs. The beach is mainly accessed by boat, but you could also trek from Agios Nikitas. The surrounding area is ideal for fishing. Moreover, if you come by boat, do not forget to walk in the gorge and admire the rugged landscape, till the dead end with falls that get dry in summer.
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.
Kaminaki Beach is located 58km south of Heraklion, in the southeastern outskirts of Asterousia Mountains. The surrounding mountains form a purely Cretan landscape, with inaccessible gorges, bare rocks, steep cliffs and remote beaches accessible only on boat. The beach of Kaminaki is formed at the exit of the wild Perivoliano Gorge.
Voidomatis or Vouidomatos (i.e. ox’s eye) is located 62km south of Heraklion and 2.5km east of the hamlet Treis Ekklisies. The area is situated on the southern slopes of Asterousia Mounts. The impressive gorge of Mesosfini with towering walls and wild cliffs, a very common landscape for Asterousia, stops in Voidomatis.
Tris Ekklisies (i.e. three churches) is a secluded seaside village located 64km south of Heraklion, amid the wild and inhospitable landscape of Asterousia Mountains. The surrounding area, one of the most isolated in Crete, is difficult to access, but has some amazing beaches. To get to Treis Ekklisies you have to drive through a rough dirt road, about 10km long, from the village Paranymfi.
Behind the big hill west of the settlement Tris Ekklisies, there is a second stunning beach with fine sand, which is completely isolated and surrounded by the largest carob wood in Europe. The beach is called Pahia Ammos and is shaped at the exit of Agia Paraskevi Gorge, which also houses an unknown 105m high waterfall (only in winter).
The monastery of Koudoumas is located 74km south of Heraklion, on the western side of Cape Martelos and south of Kofinas Peak (the highest peak of Asterousia Mountains). The whole area is full of cavities where hermits used to live. To reach the monastery, you have to drive in a passable dirt road of 20km, starting from the village Sternes, which descends from an altitude of 1000m to the sea level.
Agios Antonios (St. Anthony) is located 71km south of Heraklion, between the hamlet of Agios Ioannis and the Monastery of Koudoumas. The area is very isolated and can be accessed only via a footpath that connects Agios Ioannis with the monastery. The trail passes between pine trees.
Agios Ioannis (St. John) is a small coastal village located 73km south of Heraklion, south of the village Kapetaniana. Kapetaniana is very close to the highest peak of Asterousia Mountains, Kofinas Peak. In Kapetaniana, you can visit the Byzantine Church of the Panagia and the Church of the Holy Cross, or climb in the local climbing track.
The bay of Salamia(s) is located 74km south of Heraklion, between Agios Ioannis and Tripiti. There is no road nearby, thus it is one of the most secluded areas of Crete. You can reach it either by boat or by easy walking from Agios Ioannis.
The small pebble beach Vourlidia is formed at the exit of Flomias gorge, at the west part of Salamias bay and at the base of Oxa cape. This incredible beach can be accessed after strenuous hiking from Agios Ioannis (east) or Tripiti beach (west). The place above the beach can be approached through very bad dirt track from Koumasa or Kapetaniana.
Katarti is a tiny beach that is formed in the exit of a small gorge, 73km south of Heraklion city, at the base of Oxa Cape. This secluded beach is located amidst the wild and majestic landscape of Asterousia Mountains, southwest of the summit of Kofinas.
Tripiti (or Trypiti) is located 73km south of Heraklion and 12km east of Lendas, in a small plain at the exit of the gorge of Tripiti (not the homonym gorge of Sfakia area). The name is taken after the church of Panagia Tripiti, which is built inside a cave at the base of the canyon.
Trafoulas or Dragon Bay is located 4km east of Lendas and 69km south of Heraklion. It is a completely isolated beach of south Crete, which is formed at the exit of a small canyon on the Cape Trafoulas or Trahilas. According to the legend, this beach was visited by King Minos and his men, while the neighbouring Loutra beach was the bathing beach of Minos's wife, Pasiphae, and her female followers.
Loutra (i.e. Baths) is located 3km east of the seaside village Lendas, 77km south of Heraklion. It is known to locals because it hosts the port of Lendas, which is protected by the Cape Trafoulas on the east.