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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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.
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.
Kalamokanias is located 57km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 22km east of Ierapetra, on the west side of Makrigialos settlement. It is located on the west side of the hill that rises behind the harbor area. It takes its name after the migratory bird stilt (Himantopus himantopus) that has red legs and body reminding of a miniature stork and stops in the local streams.
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.
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.
1km east of settlement Istron we meet a well hidden beach in a steep bay. The beach is called Pilos, but is widely known as Istron Bay, after the homonym hotel that is built on the steep slopes of the bay. While it seems as private, there is a path leading to the beach starting from the west of the hotel.
Skinias is a remote area located 94km east of Agios Nikolaos and 20km east of Sitia, in one of the most remote places on Crete. The wild area hosts three nice small coves, ideal for isolation at the exit of Katsara gorge. There are no amenities and trees around, thus you should have water and umbrella with you.
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.