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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Pahia Ammos is located 20km east of Agios Nikolaos, on the road connecting Agios Nikolaos with Sitia and Ierapetra. It is a large village, built on the north side of the narrowest part of Crete, at the exit of a fertile plain with olive groves. The local beach and the sights of the surrounding area have contributed to the mild development of the village. In the village you will find small hotels, rooms and taverns.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ammoudi is located 66km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 29km east of Ierapetra, just next to the road connecting Makrigialos and Goudouras. It's main beach is also called Dragon's Cave, due to a large cave 500m north of the beach and the homonym tavern next to it. There are 2 more secluded coves west of Dragon's Cave beach, both accessed on foot or dirt track.
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.