Mother nature was very generous in the creation of Crete. The island is adorned with fantastic sceneries and exotic beaches. From Chania to Lassithi, one comes across many beaches with white sand tinted with pinkish hues due to the millions of crushed shells. Turquoise water, aquarium-like seabed, sand dunes, and rare coastal ecosystems give visitors the opportunity to discover their paradise in Crete.
The most famous and most photographed beaches on the island, known for their exotic water and majestic natural environment, are the heavenly lagoon of Balos at Gramvousa peninsula and beach Elafonissi, which lies at the southwestermost edge of the island. Between them, lie the virgin beaches of ancient Falassarna. For those looking for seclusion, there is the hidden paradise of Kedrodasos and the White Lake near Chrissoskalitissa monastery and the African seascapes of Agiannis and Lavrakas at Gavdos island.
The southern coast of Rethymnon hosts some of the most beautiful, untouched exotic beaches of Crete. Near Agios Pavlos, the huge sand hills of Melissa descend steeply and vanish into the sea, forming a beach, where one may sense the most positive vibrations of the island. On the adjacent beaches of Ligres and Pahia Ammos by Kerames the scenery remains mysterious. However, the most brilliant turquoise waters in Rethymnon are found on the beaches of Skinaria, Ammoudi, and Damnoni, all located near Plakias.
Driving on dusty dirt roads across rocky pastures and hiking in the canyons usually end up in a refreshing swim at a splendid secluded beach. The hues of the sea play their color game with the stones and the sun. Some of the most popular beaches are Agiofarago, while there are still impressive beaches at Vathy, Trafoulas near Lendas, Aspes, and Agios Nikitas. Those preferring to stay close to “civilization” can swim below the legendary caves of Listis near Kastri and the dunes of Komos by Matala. On the north coast, in the coves of Sarandaris at Hersonisos, Potamos by Malia, as well as on Dia island one comes across heavenly coves with vivid blue watercolors.
The eastern part of the island hides some of the nicest surprises. The exotic beaches of the islands Chrissi and Koufonissi (Lefki) can be explored by taking a sea trip on excursion boats from Ierapetra and Makrigialos, respectively. The protected palm beach at Vai and Itanos strongly reminds us 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 mountain. The capital of Lassithi, Agios Nikolaos, hosts the lovely beaches of Almiros, Istron, and Ammoudara.
The famous lagoon of Balos is located approximately 56km northwest of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos, formed between the Cape Gramvousa and the small Cape Tigani. Balos is surely the mostly photographed beach in Crete, a very favorite subject of all tourist guides for Greece. It is no coincidence that Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited Balos on their private yacht many years ago.
Elafonisi is located 76km west of Chania and 5km south of Chrysoskalitisa Monastery, in the southwesternmost point of Crete. Elafonisi is an oblong, which often "breaks" in two parts by water giving the impression of being a separate island.
The exotic beach of Falassarna is located 59km west of Chania and 17km west of Kissamos. It’s located in the western part of Cape Gramvousa. At the northern end of the beach are the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Falassarna.
Kedrodasos (i.e. cedar forest) is an amazing beach, located 76km southwest of Chania and 1km east of the famous Elafonissi lagoon. The beach is filled with juniper trees (mistakenly confused with cedars) and sand dunes, reminding of Lebanese beaches.
In front of the touristic settlement, there is a nice sandy beach with turquoise waters. The sea surface is mainly flat because the beach has an easterly orientation. while winds in Crete come mainly from the west. The beach is organized with umbrellas, sunbeds, and water sports.
Ammoudi is a beach complex located 32km south of Rethymno and 4km east of Plakias. To get here, you have to drive by paved road from the village of Lefkogia.
Skinaria Beach (or Shinaria) is located 33km south of Rethymno, 3km south of the village Lefkogia, in the east part of the wider Plakias area. The beach is relatively unknown to most locals, but for its few visitors it remains a heaven and some of them regard it as one of the best beaches of Crete.
The thousands of visitors arriving daily by boat from Ierapetra to Chrissi island mainly swim on the beach of Belegrina or Golden Beach. Bright blue waters, white sand with pink shades from the thousands of broken shells, and the junipers that hold the sand with their huge roots are the backdrop that makes anyone fall in love with this place.