Some tips on Cretan beaches
The temperature of the sea in Crete reaches 25 °C in summer and drops to the lowest point in February (average 15 °C). It is noteworthy that some years, in December seas are warmer than in May! The water starts getting cold when the first snow falls in the mountains. There are also areas in the South, where the temperature does not fall below 18 ° C, thus are suitable for swimming all year round. Oppositely, beaches near rivers and springs are cool all year round, even in August.
|Average Sea Temperature||Average Sea Temperature|
|January||16 °C (60.8 °F)||July||24 °C (75.2 °F)|
|February||15 °C (59.0 °F)||August||25 °C (77.0 °F)|
|March||16 °C (60.8 °F)||September||24 °C (75.2 °F)|
|April||16 °C (60.8 °F)||October||23 °C (73.4 °F)|
|May||19 °C (66.2 °F)||November||20 °C (68.0 °F)|
|June||22 °C (71.6 °F)||December||17 °C (62.6 °F)|
South vs. North
As a general rule, the best beaches are located in southern Crete, and many of them require hiking in canyons and driving on a dirt road. The sea is generally deeper, with calm waters which are cool and crystal clear. They usually have small pebbles and are not organized, unless you are close to towns and touristic places. The winds usually blow from the north and the sea is flat, but when the wind intensity is high, you’ll feel the sandblast on your body!
In contrary, the northern beaches are much more organized and easily accessible, with lifeguards being almost everywhere. They are generally sandy, warm and shallow, ideal for children. However, they get crowded and the frequent north winds raise waves.
In most organized beaches you can rent chairs and umbrella, but this is optional. There are no private beaches in Crete, nor with entrance tickets. Some beach bars offer their sunbeds for free, if you buy a drink. The usual price for a pair of beds and an umbrella is 4-6 €. More than this is considered expensive.
The animals are generally unwelcome in all crowded beaches of Crete, although they are allowed by law. However, if you go to a secluded beach, nobody will disturb you. It is obvious, of course, that you must take care of your pet and keep the area clear. Also, you must have the certificates of your pet (health card) because you may be asked.
The Cretan beaches are safe and pose no risk, provided you are a little cautious. In Greece there are white sharks, but they is extremely rare and are almost always in very deep waters. There are no reports for shark attacks in Crete. The other shark species in Greece are totally harmless and live in deep waters.
On the rocky beaches, you should pay attention not to step on a sea urchin, because taking off the stings from your feet is not the most pleasant experience. The fishes you have to avoid touching are scorpion fish, weaver fish and spinefoot, which have thorns with poison that will cause you pain (but still are harmless). Moreover, never bother moray eels, which have sharp teeth and can easily cut fingers. Continuing, jellyfish is kept away from shores by the sea currents, but if found in shallow waters then they are harmless, unless you are allergic to their stings. Finally, during the last decade fishes of the species lagoceplalus have invaded in the Mediterranean Sea from Suez Canal. Lagocephalus do not attack, but they are toxic and must not be eaten.
You can learn how to distinguish the polluted beaches with the help of algae. If algae are green, the sea is rich in nitrates (thus is polluted). In contrast, brown and posidonia seaweeds indicate that the sea is purity of the sea.
Also, in many beaches, where fresh water comes out from the seabed, are sinks caused, which are very dangerous and must not approached under no circumstances. A known area where sinks are observed is the region between Tobruk and Anisaras.
The sun in Crete, especially in the south is very hot in summer. Hence, for your personal health be sure that you have a hat, clothes that cover your body, sunglasses, sunscreen with high protection (>25) and 3lt of water per person.
It is needless to say that you should not swim with a full belly, because your heart gets exhausted, and after drinking alcohol, because of limited perception. It is no coincidence that every year in Crete many drownings occur, making drowning the a second cause of death after car accidents.
Respect the environment
The beaches are ecosystems with enormous ecological importance. In southern Crete and Gavdos, the beaches host many cedars (junipers). You should protect the rare plants by not breaking their branches that grow only 1cm / year. Moreover, in autumn, do not cut the endangered white lilies that bloom on the dunes of Crete.
In the beaches of Crete, from May to September, turtles Caretta Caretta lay their eggs. The species is threatened with extinction, so do not ever approach their nest. It would be good, if you are the first to locate the nest, to call the association of ARCHELON and putting a a primitive sign next to it, indicating that there is a nest. Similarly, if you see seals, leave away as they are very shy and are threatened with extinction.
The garbage you produce should be taken away, while collecting rubbish left by someone else before us, is a good action. Never light fires on the beach, not only for the danger of setting fire on the nearby vegetation, but also because the sight of the blackened sand on the next day is appalling.
"All we get from the beach are photographs and all we leave are footprints."
The beaches of southern Crete are usually hidden in the canyons, thus you should drive or walk through wild mountains, dirt roads and pastures. Many times you will find doors in the middle of the nowhere, which are used by shepherds, so as their flocks do not escape. So, remember to close it again after you pass.
Furthermore, especially in southern Crete, the existence of a shadow is very rare. So many drivers compete to get a parking place under the few trees. If you are lucky and find a free tree, while around a lot of parked cars are getting baked in the sun, do not rush to park there. Kids of Crete can destroy the roof of your beloved car as they climb over it to reach the tender shoots of the tree or to rest in shade. If there are no goats around, then you could park, of course.
Finally, when you can get your car next to the beach, keep it away from the sand, so as not to have unpleasant surprises.