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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The area is famous for the cave located close to the village, where in 1823 a large number of locals moved in the cave to escape from the Turks, but they massacred many of them after 15 days. Today, Milatos is touristically developed and hosts an important fishing harbor. The surrounding area is full with large olive groves and the coast is full of small rocky coves. Among them there are several beaches where you can swim.
Ammos Beach is located 500m south of the center of Agios Nikolaos. It is a long beach which starts near the city's marina, at Nearchos Street. It runs near the stadium of the town and extends to the south, till the Municipal Beach. The part near marina is a beautiful beach with umbrellas, sunbeds, showers, water sports, restaurants and hotels around it. It is located near the city center and its stores. The water is shallow, ideal for little kids and the sea is usually flat.
Ferma is located 10km east of Ierapetra and 45km southeast of Agios Nikolaos. It is a small seaside settlement that is built next to the steep shores, 4km south of the village of Agios Ioannis. The surrounding area is covered with dense pine woods and lush vegetation, being a green oasis inside the dry landscape of Eastern Crete.
The village retains the traditional elements of Crete intact and is an ideal destination for a relaxing holiday. The villagers, mostly originating from the village Sfaka, are very friendly and you will feel very familiar with them on the first day. If you're lucky, you might meet some of the events organized by the locals, such as fishing contests.
Elounda is located 10km north of Agios Nikolaos, near the northwest side of the Bay of Mirabello. It is famous for its expensive and luxurious hotels that host celebrities from all over the world. Apart from its glamorous character, Elounda has to offer visitors some of the most beautiful landscapes in Crete. These landscapes are highly dominated by the majestic small beaches of Elounda.
The place is known as Maheridia and is one of the favorite beaches of locals, which is quite unknown to everybody else. The beaches are not visible from the main road running next to them, thus you have to walk till you meet them. They are surrounded by vertical cliffs, however there are some primitive trails to the beach.
The first beach you come across, next to the tavern Gargadoros is the main beach of the area. It is pebbly and well organized, a really good choice for those staying in Agios Nikolaos and wanting to escape from the ordinary things. From the main beach, if you walk till the small pier on the north, you will find the second beach from the other side (of the pier).
Kalo Nero is located close to Kapsa Monastery, 68km south of Agios Nikolaos and 33km east of Ierapetra, in one of the most rugged areas of eastern Crete. It is a small village at the outlet of a small, but inaccessible, rocky canyon. You will see the church of Panagia (1881), around which the inhabitants of the mountainous village Pervolakia built buildings to stay, when they brought their cattle to graze here. The church was built on the remains of an older chapel, owned by Kapsa Monastery, which was built in 1461.