The most famous and most photographed beaches on the island of Crete, known for their exotic water and majestic natural environment, are the heavenly lagoons of Balos at Gramvousa peninsula and Elafonissi, which lie in the southwestern edge of the island. Between them, lies the virgin beaches of ancient Falassarna. For those looking for seclusion, there is the hidden paradise of Kedrodasos and White Lake near Elafonissi and the African seascapes of Agiannis and Lavrakas on Gavdos island.
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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 with 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 sanddunes, reminding of Lebanese beaches.
Glyka Nera (meaning "sweet water") is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, with deep blue water color and nice pebbles. In 2003, the beach was ranked among the best 20 in Europe by London Times. This is located 43km west of Chora Sfakion and 75km south of Chania. This is called like this because of the fresh water that gushes from the pebbles!
The island of Imeri Gramvousa is located 20km northwest of Kissamos, opposite the imposing Cape of Gramvousa and 2 miles northwest of the famous lagoon of Balos. Gramvousa is famous for its historical Venetian fortress, which still stands at a height of 137m, over the beach. The fort had also been used by pirates.
Stefanou beach is located near the position of Seitan Limania (i.e. satan harbours), 22km northeast of Chania and 2km east of the village Chordaki, at the east side of Akrotiri Cape. The wider area is named Seitan Limania, after the wild landscape, the steep cliffs and the strong sea streams which are very dangerous. Here are situated three parallel narrow coves, well protected from the waves.
Stavros (i.e. cross) is a seaside village located 17km northeast of Chania, at the northernmost edge of Cape Akrotiri. One characteristic feature of the area is the very steep camel-shaped mountain rising opposite the harbor of Stavros. The mountain is famous, because there were filmed scenes for the film “Zorba the Greek”, where Anthony Quinn danced the famous Sirtaki Dance in 1964. Then Stavros was a small fishing village.