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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2km north of Agios Nikolaos you will meet the historic Hotel Mirabello. In front of the hotel there are the two bays of Mirabello with two beautiful sandy beaches. The first beach is protected by docks and a small marina. Both of them are very well-organized, with umbrellas, sunbeds, showers and bar. They are separated by a short artificial peninsula with tamarisk trees.
If you head 1km to the east of Myrtos you will meet the long beach of Sarikambos, that is more secluded, but the seabed becomes coarser. 2 more km on the east, you'll find a small bay next to the greenhouses of Nea Myrtos settlement. This is avoided for swimming due to the greenhouses that might pollute the water.
The first beaches of Elounda that you meet after Lenika, as you come from Agios Nikolaos, are the beaches in front of the famous hotels of Elounda at position Pigaidakia. Every hotel that respects itself here has its own harbor, where yachts can stop. Next to the piers there are small sandy beaches which offer all kinds of opulence and luxury services.
Kamini is an area with 5 pebble beaches in a series close to the famous Minoan settlement Gournia by Pahia Ammos. The area is located north of the site and was the access point of Gournia people to the sea. Therefore we still meet Minoan buildings in the area with the most important almost on the sea level.
Starting from Elounda, if you follow the road to Plaka, which passes right next to the shore, you will soon meet several small beaches with pebbles and stones at settlements Mavrikiano and Agia Paraskevi. In some places the olive trees are planted on the beach because the salty water of the lagoon is always calm and does not destroy them. In some places you will find beach bars on platforms.
Kamarelles beach, opposite the small islet of Marmaro and next to the ancient Roman Theatre, is an amazing sandy beach. It is very interesting to watch ancient pillars while snorkeling! On the south end of the beach, we meet two impressive natural arches, called Kamarelles.
Papadiokambos is located 12km west of Sitia and 59km east of Agios Nikolaos, west of Cape Trahilos and near the Monastery of Faneromeni (in Skopi area). It can be accessed via a good dirt road. In Papadiokambos you’ll meet a long beach with large stones and rocks. In some places a few bays with pebbles are formed, where you can swim.
Kapsas Monastery is located 37km southwest of Sitia and 32km east of Ierapetra, between Makrigialos and Goudouras. It is a very old monastery built on the cliffs near the exit of the arid Pervolakia Gorge. To get here you can follow the paved road that links Makrigialos to Goudouras, but there are also (rare) bus services from Ierapetra.