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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
East of the main beach of Hiona, there are several small coves, where you can find a quiet place to swim alone and nude. The first sandy beach is called Bondalaki. Continuing driving along a bad dirt track to the esat, you will soon meet several coves with pebbles and enjoy the eerie landscape with gorges and wild mounts in the background. The last cove is Skaria and is the easternmost beach of Crete. It is highly affected by the sea currents (there is a lot of rubbish). The previous beach, Pilos, is formed in clay ground and is ideal for seclusion.