The eastern part of the island hides some of the nicest surprises. The exotic beaches of the islands Chrissi and Lefki can be explored by taking a sea trip on excursion boats from Ierapetra and Makrigialos. The protected palm forest at Vai and Itanos strongly reminds of an African landscape, while the secluded beaches of Karoumes and Xerokambos are a must-see for nature lovers. The dry rocky landscape changes dramatically a few miles to the west, on the serene strands formed below the slopes of Thripti range. The capital of Lassithi, Agios Nikolaos, hosts the lovely beaches of Gargadoros, Istron and Ammoudara.
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Vai was totally unknown until the early 1970s, when a popular commercial for the Bounty chocolate with coconut was filmed here, using the magical background of palm trees. In the advert, coconuts were falling from trees, however Vai palms produce dates. Consequently coconuts had to be falsely hung to create the right impression. The ad made this unknown earthly paradise renowned throughout the world.
In front of the touristic settlement, there is a nice sandy beach with turquoise waters. The sea surface is mainly flat, because the beach has easterly orientation. while winds in Crete come mainly from west. The beach is organised with umbrellas, sunbeds and water sports.
The thousands of visitors arriving daily with the boat from Ierapetra to Chrissi island mainly swim on the beach of Belerinina or Golden Beach. Bright blue waters, white sand with pink shades from the thousands of broken shells, the junipers that hold the sand with their huge roots is the backdrop that makes anyone fall in love with this place.
Kolokytha is a small island just opposite the Peninsula of Spinalonga, 12km north of Agios Nikolaos and close to Elounda. Opposite the island there is the fantastic beach of Saint Luke, mostly known as Kolokytha. To access the beach you should first follow a scenic route: From the town of Elounda, follow the road leading to the East, along the shore. You will pass the old salt pans on your right hand, which now host many birds.
Sitia is the easternmost city on Crete and is located 64km east of Agios Nikolaos. The wider area of Sitia province hosts several small beaches where you can enjoy the sun and the sea. However, some who prefer to stay close to town, can visit the long city beach.
Kato Zakros is a traditional fishing village located 107km east of Agios Nikolaos and 40km east of Sitia. It is the picturesque harbor of Zakros village (located 7km on the west), situated in a fertile valley with olive groves surrounded by rough mountains. The area is one of the most remote areas of Crete and is ideal for those seeking tranquility, away from the bustling daily life of cities.
Almiros beach is located 2.5km south of Agios Nikolaos and is the most popular beach of the city. It is shaped near the exit of Almiros River, which empties on the south part of the beach. Next to the beach, the protected wetland of Almiros hosts several rare birds, towering eucalyptus trees, reed and some palm trees.
Agia Fotia, one of the favorite beaches of all Cretans, is located 45km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 12km east of Ierapetra. It is a small bay formed at the mouth of a small stream that descends from the surrounding mountains. The settlement takes its name after the local Church of Agia Fotini (or Agia Fotia). The area is hidden in plane trees and tamarisks, while the bay is surrounded by high mountains and cliffs that create a magic scenery.