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. The residents of Ierapetra love this island and call it simply "the Island". It is said that years ago by Gianni Agnelli, the chairman of Ferrari, wanted to buy the island to make it a tourist attraction. Fortunately, the locals rebelled and the island has remained free.
Chrissi takes its name (golden) after the golden sand that covers the entire island and comes from shell debris. The tropical beaches are crowded by many visitors who come by the excursion boats that leave Ierapetra in the morning and return in the afternoon. Chrissi has been declared as an area of natural beauty and it is strictly prohibited to camp and spend your night here. You must keep away from the fragile cedar forest, which has been signed with ropes. Lastly, collecting sand and shells is strictly forbidden.
The boat from Ierapetra reaches the island after 50 min and the harbor is located in the area Vougiou Mati, in the south coast. There is a tavern where you can enjoy your food. Next to it you'll see the South Beach of Vagies, where you can have a relaxing bath and rent an umbrella. Along the coast there are other bays with sand and stones, which you can discover yourself.
The most popular beach is located on the north side of the island, where you can get after a short walk from the harbor, crossing the magnificent cedar forest. After 5’ you’ll meet the main beach of the island, called Belegrina or Golden Beach. Belegrina is full of broken shells, the water is crystal clear and has sparkling light blue colors, strongly reminiscent of the beaches of the Caribbean. It is sligthly organized with umbrellas and a canteen where you can get drinks. The water is shallow and has great clarity.
If you walk west of Belegrina, the next beach you will find Hatzivolakas. It is calmer and the seabed is rockier. Nature here shows off its glory, with large fragile cedar trees, over 200 years old, surrounding you. West of Hatzivolakas, archaeologists have detected traces of a Minoan settlement that flourished because of trading Tyrian purple, the red dye used by Ancients and Byzantines, which was extracted by the gastropod Murex brandaris. Nearby, you can visit the small chapel of St. Nicholas, the old salt pan and the lighthouse of the island.
Alternatively, if you walk eastwards from Belegrina, you will find yourself in Kataprosopo beach (i.e. Face-to-face beach), which looks the islet of Mikronisi “face-to-face”. Mikronisi is located east of Chrissi and offers shelter to thousands of seagulls. The beach is less impressive than those of the north side, but more secluded. The water here is shallow and does not exceed 5m in depth (all the way to Mikronisi), making the area ideal for snorkelers.