The eastern part of the island 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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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.
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.
Platani is located 7km west of Sitia and 60km east of Agios Nikolaos. To get to this point you should follow the road leading to Faneromeni Monastery, starting at the village Skopi. 2km after Skopi, just before the monastery, two neighboring small pebbly beaches are shaped with crystal clear waters. The first, known as Agii Pantes is formed at the exit of the lush Agii Pantes gorge, that is easily accessed via a hiking trail.
Because the sea in the area of Papadiokambos is often wavy, there is an excellent alternative for swimming east of the settlement, on the east side of the peninsula Trahili. The short cape blocks the waves and the waters are almost always calm and azure blue. However, at a first glance you will think that there is no beach,
If you walk 1 hour east of Vlyhada beach at Livari (by Goudouras), you will soon reach the two deserted beaches of Tihida area. The area is full of caves and takes its name after the wall-like rocks (tihos in Greek) at the small beach, offering shade during summer.
The north part of Spinalonga Peninsula called Armos (just opposite the islet Kalydon with the fort of Spinalonga) is a special place with abandoned farms, mostly unknown due to the fact that there are no roads heading here. Apart from the well known beach of Kolokytha, at the southeast base of the peninsula, there are several unknown beaches at the north part of the peninsula. It is surely worth visiting them by canoe from Plaka.
If you head west of Papadiokambos settlement, especially on windless days (very rare!), it is worth leaving your car off the road, cross the wire fence and walk 2 minutes to the exit of the gorge starting close to Liopetro area and ending at the beautiful beach of Charkomatas, at position Roussa Limni. You’ll get impressed by the amazing formations of the gorge, shaped by laminated sheets of limestone.
Between Platani and the airport of Sitia there are huge uninhabited lands with low vegetation and wild sharp rocks, where even no roads exist. This area, called Melissokipi (aka Bee gardens), is crossed by several deep streams flowing into the sea (in winter). One of them, Vathys Potamos (i.e. Deep River) a small sandy beach is formed which unfortunately is strongly affected by the frequent winds.