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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The beach is shaped at the exit of a small gorge, surrounded by long cliffs. The circular bight of the bay conceals it from the open sea, making Vathy a natural hideout. It is no coincidence that pirates used it as their anchorage. The well-protected beach has almost always calm waters, although the surrounding beaches can be very wavy.
Kommos (or Komos) is located 66km southwest of Heraklion, just 2km north of Matala and close the seaside settlement of Kalamaki. It is actually the southernmost and the most isolated part of the huge beachfront of Mesara Bay. Kommos was once the port of Phaestus, so you can still see the ruins of the town, near the beach. You can access Kommos by driving in the road heading to Matala, till you see a sign to Kommos.
Ammoudara is a long beach which starts 1km west of the center of Heraklion and reaches the mouth of the river Almyros, 7km on the west. Ammoudara is today a suburb of Heraklion, with thousands of visitors every year, mainly because of the vast beach.
Kaminaki Beach is located 58km south of Heraklion, in the southeastern outskirts of Asterousia Mountains. The surrounding mountains form a purely Cretan landscape, with inaccessible gorges, bare rocks, steep cliffs and remote beaches accessible only on boat. The beach of Kaminaki is formed at the exit of the wild Perivoliano Gorge.
Kato Gouves (or simply Gouves) is a popular holiday resort located 18km east of Heraklion, in the foothills of Mount Ederi. In the past, the valley of Kato Gouves was cultivated by the residents of the village Ano Gouves with vegetables, olives and cereals.
Potamos is a long sandy beach, very well organized, but less crowded than the main beach of Malia. The region, particularly its east part, is not developed due to the archaeological site. However, in the west of the beach, there are several hotels with small bays in front of them.
Stalis (or Stalida) is located 30km east of Heraklion, in the midway of Malia and Hersonissos. From a small seaside village set up by the residents of Mohos, Stalis is today a popular tourist resort, which is united with Malia town. The only difference with Malia is that Stalis attracts mainly families and things here are more peaceful.
On the vast bay, there are two settlements, Karteros and Amnissos. The area has grown so much that the two villages are now united. The main reason for the rapid development of the area is the small distance from Heraklion and the vast beach with the fine golden sand.