The eastern part of Crete 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.
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 hosts many birds.
Sissi (or Sisi) is located 26km west of Agios Nikolaos and 41km east of Heraklion, in close proximity to Malia. It is a peaceful traditional village with narrow streets and beautiful taverns. Its trademark is the harbor with the clean and calm waters.
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.
Myrtos is located 13km west of Ierapetra, in the output of a wide valley filled with greenhouses and citrus groves, crossed by the River Kryos. It is a small seaside village, which has experienced a mild form of development in recent years, which fortunately has not altered its traditional style. The village is built on the exit of the imposing Sarakina Gorge, which is worth visiting.
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.
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.