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 sandy beach is formed in a small bay in front of the hotel Hellenic Palace. Opposite the bay there is an islet where you can go swimming, but beware for the strong currents. The beach is well organized with umbrellas and sunbeds, and there are several tamarisk trees nearby. Like most beaches in northern Crete, Santa Barbara is vulnerable to winds.
Istro(n) is located 12km east of Agios Nikolaos and 22km north of Ierapetra, very close to Kalo Chorio. It is a quiet village, situated in a lush valley full with olive groves and springs, which has been developed during the last decades. However, the development was fortunately mild, mainly due to the regional building restrictions because of the archaeological discoveries. The main growth driver of Istron is undoubtedly the emerald beaches which are scattered in three adjacent bays.
East of the beach of Richtis, you can see the rough and steep mount of Liopetro, which housed the fort of Liopetro (at the site of current Prophet Elijah chapel). Below Liopetro there is the very old church of St. John, accessible through a very bad road starting from the main road connecting Lassithi to Sitia (initially cement road).
The village has faced a very mild touristic development, which makes it a very quiet destination even in August. Along the seaside village road stretches a large pebbly beach with clean and cool water, not very well organised, although there are some places with umbrellas and taverns nearby. After swimming you can enjoy the famous local fish.
Diaskari is located 27km east of Ierapetra and 62km southeast of Agios Nikolaos, quite close to Makrigialos (4km). It is a long beach with coarse white sand and crystal clear waters, but you should be careful when entering the sea because there are smooth slippery rocks at some points.
Agia Irini is a small remote picturesque village located 98km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 11km south of Ziros village. You can reach the village via dirt tracks starting either from Kalo Horio or from Hametoulo (both 7km long). The village is the starting point of the rugged Agia Irini Gorge that exits in one secluded cove, opposite the small islet of Hamili.
Dreros beach is shaped inside a hotel at Tsifliki area, 13km north of Agios Nikolaos, near the road that connects Elounda to the picturesque village of Plaka. It is shaped in a region surrounded by many olive groves and has wonderful views of the lagoon of Korfos (mainly known as Elounda lagoon) and the former leper colony, the fort of Spinalonga.
Livari is located 90km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 7km east of Goudouras, in one of the most remote areas of Crete where you can be truly alone. 2km east is the large power plant of Atherinolakkos, which is the only drawback in the landscape.