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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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.
500m north of the legendary Mirabelo hotel you will find the tranquil beach of Havani, where a well organized municipal beach operates. In Havania there are options for accommodation and food. On the beach you will find a lifeguard and water sports. According to reports, during the years of Ottoman rule there was a small port and its remnants are still visible in the sea.
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.
If you walk along the coast to the north of Maridati till Vai palmgrove, you will meet several small coves, totally secluded accessed only by boat or on foot (it takes 2:30 hours to reach Vai). The most beautiful beach is located at the middle of the distance (Vai-Maridati) and is named Kedromouri, i.e. cedar Cape, after the trees in the area.
Karoumes beach is located 110km east of Agios Nikolaos and 29km southeast of Sitia. It is formed at the exit of the beautiful gorge of Chochlakies, which is worth visiting. Access to the beach can be done only by walking in the gorge, since the rugged terrain of the area has kept off the roads.
Ierapetra is located 35km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and is the southernmost city of Greece. It is built on one of the warmest areas of Crete, which makes it very popular for holidays, even until the end of autumn. The wider area of Ierapetra is famous for its beaches, stretching along a vast beachfront. Almost all of them are covered by the characteristic fine black pebbles, which do not stick in the leg, and the sea is usually flat.
Koutsouras is located 55km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 20km east of Ierapetra, on the main road between Ierapetra and Makrigialos. It is a relatively new village, built in a valley with pine trees, greenhouses and olive groves on the southern foothills of Mount Thripti. The village is developed with a police station, pharmacy, clinic, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, etc., but it is still a very quiet place.
Lagoufa is located right after the east end of Makrigialos main beach, around 59km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 24km east of Ierapetra. It consists of two adjacent protected coves, which are formed near the big hotels of Makrigialos.