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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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.
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.
Vatos is located 18km west of Ierapetra and 3km east of Myrtos. It is a small settlement that can accessed through the asphalted road from Mirtos. The locals work with banana and vegetable crops in the greenhouses of the area. The village is situated at the exit of a fertile valley, which begins northern, at village Gdohia.
Lagada is located 29km east of Ierapetra and 62km southeast of Agios Nikolaos, near Makrigialos (6km). It is situated in a large fertile valley with many olive groves, which is surrounded by the tall mountains of Makrigialos. During the last years, some hotels and rooms to let have been built, but the beach still retains its remoteness.
Psili Ammos is located near the famous palmforest of Vai, 95km east of Agios Nikolaos and 25km east of Sitia. It can be accessed via a short footpath that starts in Vai and circles the hill on the east end of Vai. Walking does not exceed 5 minutes and the beach is definitely worth visiting.
Ammoudares is located 8km west of Ierapetra and 45km south of Agios Nikolaos. It close to the settlement of Nea Anatoli and Stomio, which all share actually the same beachfront. Ammoudares beachfront consists of sequential long beaches with coarse gray sand. All beaches are unorganized and secluded. They are not popular, mainly because the area is surrounded by thousands of greenhouses. The locals avoid swimming in the area due to pesticides and drugs, but still the water is clean.
Mavros Kolimbos or Agios Panteleimon is located 51km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 16km east of Ierapetra. It is a small settlement near the shore, that has faced a mild development during the last decades. There are some rooms to rent around and some small taverns.
The last beach north of Agios Nikolaos, on the way to Elounda, is the beach of Katsikia (i.e. goats). The area is named after the many goat pens in the past. Similarly, Agios Nikolaos town was called Mantraki that means goat pen. Katsikia host a nice sandy beach with stones in a places, well hidden in front of the hotel Candia Park. To get there you should walk either across the hotel or around it.