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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Tripiti (or Trypiti) is located 73km south of Heraklion and 12km east of Lendas, in a small plain at the exit of the gorge of Tripiti (not the homonym gorge of Sfakia area). The name is taken after the church of Panagia Tripiti, which is built inside a cave at the base of the canyon.
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).
Kokkinos Pirgos (i.e. Red Tower) is located 67km west of Heraklion and close to the town of Tymbaki. The name is taken after the tower that was there and was built with reddish soil. The purpose of this tower at this point is still unknown. It is the seaside village of Timbaki, home of the port of the region and developed touristically.
Keratokambos is a small seaside resort situated 72km southeast of Heraklion, a few miles east of Tsoutsouras and Viannos. Keratokambos, with the nearby village of Kastri, have become a new tourist destination during the last years, because more and more visitors come to the area and enjoy the beautiful shores. Indeed, in front of the village of Keratokambos a vast beach, several kilometers long, stretches to both directions.
If you exclude the repelling landscape of tanks, you will certainly be enchanted by the beautiful beaches of Kali Limenes, which are suitable for swimming all year round. As its name name suggests, sea in Kali Limenes (i.e. Fair Harbors) is almost always calm, except in winter. This was one of the reasons for the construction of the tanks here. If you visit the place on weekend, all its beaches are crowded by thousands of people, despite the tiring route in Asterousia.
Gournes is a tourist resort located 16km east of Heraklion, between Kokkini Hani and Gouves. The area of Gournes is located in a large fertile plain with many vegetable crops and olive groves. Gournes was in the past a separate village but the rapid development of the region has made it one part of the united beachfront, which now starts in Vathianos Kambos and ends after 23 kilometers, in Malia. Gournes are situated on the 3rd kilometer of this front.
Mononaftis is a beautiful pebbly beach, located 24km northwest of Heraklion and just 1km north of Agia Pelagia main beach. According to the tradition, a ship was sunk here once and only one sailor survived. This story gave the name Mononaftis to the beach, which means “One sailor”. However, Mononaftis is a huge rock floating just 50m off the coast.
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.