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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Ligaria is located 21km north west of Heraklion and 1km east of Agia Pelagia. The Bay of Ligaria is closed and well protected from the winds blowing in the region. Nearby there are the ruins of the old monastery of Panagia Ligariani, where many monks lived in the past. The region gets its name from the monastery, which in turn gets its name from the beautiful plant “osier” (ligaria in Greek), with the flexible stems and the beautiful flowers, which used to abound in the area.
The peaceful resort of Anisaras is located 21km east of Heraklion, west of Cape Sarandaris. The area is now full with big hotels, which offer primarily all-inclusive services. In front of the hotels, there are small sandy beaches with rocky seabed. All beaches are well-organized with umbrellas and sun beds, which are offered for free to the customers of the hotels.
Lendas is a remote coastal village located 74km south of Heraklion, on the southern slopes of the imposing Asterousia Mountains. It is a tourist resort and a port, mildly developed offering very relaxing holidays. Lendas can be accessed from Agii Deka, close to Mires town, via the village of Miamou, through a narrow paved road.
Martsalo is a secluded beach in the west Asterousia Mountains, one of the most inaccessible areas of Heraklion. It is located just a few kilometers from the “horn” of Messara Plain, the Cape Lithino, and 80km southwest of Heraklion.
Kokkini Hani is located 15km west of Heraklion, west of Vathianos Kambos. The area is a very well developed resort, surrounded by the many crops cultivated in the plain of the area. The name of the site means “Kokkinis’s Inn” and is taken after an inn that operated here in the early 1900s, by someone called Kokkinis.
Analipsi later was occupied by the the shepherds of Saint George village, in Lasithi Plateau, where the winter is very cold. Thus, they moved their cattle here in winter. Today, the lucky descendants of the shepherds have large properties in the area, with hotels, shops, restaurants and all sorts of tourist facilities.
Dia is a small uninhabited island located 12 miles north of Heraklion. During the summer, excursion boats run daily to Dia, where the visitor can admire the rugged landscape of the island and swim in the crystal clear waters. The place where the boats stop is called the port of St. George.
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).