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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Gorge Katsounaki is located in the dry Eastern Crete, east of Xirokambos settlement. The river passing through the gorge leads to the beach of Xerokampos River, next to the beautiful sand beach of Alona. Hiking in the canyon is easy and the landscape with tall walls is very wild. You can walk upside down from Alona.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tholos is located 26km east of Agios Nikolaos and 4km north of the village Kavousi. Locals might also call it Kavoussi beach, due to the nearby village. The beach is formed at the exit of a fertile valley, surrounded by huge olive groves and vine groves. The region has been touristically developed, but very mildly, being ideal for a relaxing holiday.
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).