Driving on dusty dirt roads across rocky pastures and hiking in the canyons usually end up in a refreshing swim at a splendid secluded beach. The hues of the sea play their color game with the stones and the sun. Some of the most popular beaches are Agiofarago, while there are still impressive beaches at Vathy, Trafoulas near Lendas, Aspes and Agios Nikitas. Those preferring to stay close to “civilization” can swim below the legendary caves of Listis by Kastri and the dunes of Komos by Matala. Οn the north coast, in the coves of Sarandaris at Hersonisos, Potamos by Malia, as well as on Dia island one comes across heavenly beaches, where the water is azure blue.
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Paliokastro (or Paleokastro) is located 14km west of Heraklion, on the western shores of the Bay of Heraklion. It is a picturesque beach with pebbles, shaped in the exit of a green valley which is crossed by the torrents descending from the village Rogdia. Paliokastro cove is well protected on both sides by tall cliffs and faces east.
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.
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.
Arvi is a large seaside village located 79km southeast of Heraklion and 35km west of Ierapetra, in a large valley formed in front of the imposing Gorge of Arvi. It is built on the location of the homonym ancient Arvi. In the valley of Arvi and the surrounding area, there are too many greenhouses. The locals deal mainly with agriculture, because the warm climate of the region helps the production of bananas, fresh vegetables and olive oil.
Fodele beach is located 26km northwest of Heraklion and just 3km north of the village Fodele, which is believed to be the birthplace of the painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, mainly known as El Greco. The National Road connecting Heraklion and Chania passes beside the beach.
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.
Listis is located 69km southeast of Iraklion, between Kastri (2km western) and Tsoutsouras. The street linking Kastri and Tsoutsouras passes next to the beach. However, in order to get to the beach you should descend a steep slope. Alternatively, you can get off at the next beach of Kamboula and walk eastwards. Whichever way you choose, it definitely is worth it.
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.