Crete Lakes

Lake Kournas

Chania

Lake Kournas
(189 votes)
Lake Kournas - 3.5 out of 5 based on 189 votes

Lake Kournas is actually the only large natural lake in Crete and is located in an enchanting landscape, surrounded by high mountains and olive groves. It is located near the village Kournas, 2.5km southeast of the beach of Georgioupolis, 43km east of Chania and 20km west of Rethymnon. Lake Kournas and its surroundings constitute a very important ecosystem for Greece. Kournas is one of the very few areas of Crete where plenty of fresh water is stored throughout the year. For this reason, it is protected under the Natura 2000 program.

Lake Kournas is a favorite destination for visitors of Crete and locals. It is an ideal place for relaxation and a walk. In summer, a stroll around the turquoise lake lasts less than an hour (3.5 km).

On one side of the lake there are cafes and restaurants overlooking the lake. Adjacent to the cafes, small beaches with white sand are formed during the summer, as the water surface reached lower levels. Visitors can swim at these beaches and rent umbrellas. Moreover, visitors could either pedal or kayak in the lake. This is an ideal choice for the afternoon, when the color of the water is beautiful and the lake is very calm.

Lake Creation

The lake has been created by the accumulation of groundwater coming from the White Mountains. The water gushes from a spring called Amati or Mati (meaning “eye”), which is over the lake surface in the summer months, while it’s hidden below the surface during winter. There is a second spring, which is always underneath the surface.

The lake is small and circular and covers an area of 579 acres, has maximum depth 22.5 m, maximum length 1080m and maximum width of 880m. The volume of water in summer is approximately 7.5 million cubic meters. The water is transported to the sea via the river Delfinas.

In some parts of the lake, overflow and drainage works can be seen, that are used for diverting water to the farmland and to the sea.

Flora and Fauna

Kournas Lake and its surroundings constitute a very important ecosystem for Greece. Kournas is one of the very few areas of Crete where plenty of fresh water is stored throughout the year. For this reason, it is protected under the Natura 2000 program.

The lake is surrounded by lush vegetation composing of rare aquatic plants and trees. The dark color of the water is caused by the weed.

Many species of birds find shelter here, like moorhens, ducks, herons and cormorants. Also, the lake has always been known for its eels. This wetland also hosts water snakes and terrapins. Especially for the terrapins, a rare type of terrapin lives here (Malaclemys terrapin) with spots on its shell.

Unfortunately, during the last years, goldfish has appeared in the lake. This indicates that someone has released them into the lake, without the considering that this action might disturb the balance of this closed ecosystem.

What to see

Lake Kournas is a favorite destination for visitors of Crete and locals. It is an ideal place for relaxation and a walk. In summer, a stroll around the turquoise lake lasts less than an hour (3.5 km).

On one side of the lake there are cafes and restaurants overlooking the lake. Adjacent to the cafes, small beaches with white sand are formed during the summer, as the water surface reached lower levels. Visitors can swim at these beaches and rent umbrellas.

Moreover, visitors could either pedal or kayak in the lake. This is an ideal choice for the afternoon, when the color of the water is beautiful and the lake is very calm.

During winter and spring the water level is higher and walking around the lake is difficult because the vegetation is lush near the bank. The beaches are disappearing and water overwhelms even the stairs located next to restaurants.

Some legends about Kournas

The lake has dark water and inspires awe to everyone who visits it. Thus, in the past, locals believed that the lake is bottomless. This myth has been broken, since the maximum depth of it has been estimated at 22.5m.

A second myth states that there was a village in the position of the lake, where a beautiful girl lived with her father. One day, while they were walking to the fields, they stopped to rest for a while. The young daughter began to comb her hair and her father admired her. However, this admiration turned to erotic love and her father tried to seduce his daughter. The desperate girl starting shouting "Lake come and I will be the ghost of the lake". The area immediately sank and flooded with water, creating the lake. The locals say that many visitors have seen a fairy combing her hair in the moonlight, sitting on a rock in the middle of the lake. They say that the fairy protects the animals and the ducks of the lake.

A sub-myth of the fairy myth says that the God got angry about the sinful behavior of locals and caused a flooding to punish them. The residents were all drowned, except the daughter of the priest, which is the fairy that has been seen by locals.

Finally, some believe that paranormal phenomena are caused by electromagnetic fields of the lake that either cause inconvenience or a positive mood.

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Additional Info

  • Prefecture: Chania
  • Sea water color: Green
  • Sand type: Sand
  • Depth: Shallow
  • Sea surface: Usually calm
  • Crowds: Normal
  • Facilities: Accommodation options nearby, Food / water nearby, Umbrellas / beds, Sports
  • Accessibility: Bus services, Paved road

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