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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After leaving the sheltered beach of Amoudi behind you and taking the road leading to Elounda, you will soon meet one bay 1km north of the center of Agios Nikolaos, next to Hotel Minos Palace. It is a small pebbly and sandy cove, called Katholiko shaped in a very well protected narrow bay, which is mainly used as a harbor for boats (and thus is not organized).
500m east to Xerokambos you will find one of the weirdest landscapes on Crete. Here you will see a large dry lake next to the sea. You may not get very excited on summer, but if you come here in spring or in winter, you will understand why this is so important. In the winter Alatsolimni (Salt Lake), as it is called, is flooded with water, forming a small lagoon.
To reach the beach you can walk into the small canyon, until you meet the sea. From Finokalias follow the short path that leads northwards, until you see the bed of the gorge. While walking along this, you will cross one beautiful and wild landscape with bare rocks, low vegetation and numerous spices and herbs.
A few yards south of Ammoudi beach, next to the coastal street of Akti Koundourou leading to Lake Voulismeni you will find a small artificial beach with sand. The beach of Akti Koundourou Street is formed between two concrete piers. It is well organized with umbrellas and water sports, while it hosts a diving school.
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.
Gela (or Tigania) is located at a rocky and pebbly coast of north Crete, quite protected by westerly winds. It is located around 58km east of Agios Nikolaos and 26km west of Sitia, close to Mesa Mouliana village.
The first beach of Xerokambos (on the west) is the harbor of Amatos. A natural harbor with calm waters is formed there with several boats. The remote beach is pebbly and is ideal for fishing. There are 2-3 tamarisk trees and a ramp for launching boats. The road leading to the harbor from the settlement of Xerokambos is an accessible dirt road. From here starts the path to the beach of Agia Irini.
Psalidia means scissors in Greek and this name is taken after the shape of the bay. The surrounding area is very dry and is cover by low sand dunes and shrubs, but in September it turns to a paradise by thousands of white sand lilies. Moreover, if you walk to Lagada, you’ll meet many amazing rocks that are ideal for shooting photos.