Crete has limited water resources, due to its geographical location and weather conditions. Dams and artificial reservoirs have been built at several sites of the island in order to meet the increasing needs for water supply. After their construction, all of them soon were transformed into very important wetlands, enriching the biodiversity of the island.
The largest natural lake in Crete is located at Kournas near Georgioupolis, where visitors can watch birds from the local watch tower. Small but important natural ponds with water all year round are also located at Tersanas by Chania, at Mohos and Thrapsano while seasonal ponds are met at Orne, Parakalouri, Ziros, Omalos by Viannos, Achendrias, Stroumboulas, various plateaus of the northern province of Mirabello, Gergeri and at several more places. Artificial lakes where one can observe birds are located at Ayia by Chania, at Votomos by Zaros, at the large dams of Bramiana, Aposelemis, Faneromeni, Potami and the numerous small dams in the hinterland of Heraklion.
At the plateau of Ziros and right next to the homonymous village we meet a very small wetland, covering only a half acre. This small pond is extremely important for the biodiversity of the dry Eastern Crete, as the existence of freshwater anywhere there is valuable.
If you climb the cliffs on the east side of Agiofarago beach and walk for a while to the southeast, you will meet a hidden saltish lake - cave, called Vourvoulitis, surrounded by vertical cliffs.
The pond of Maherida is located at the area of Tersanas in Akrotiri, just 14km east of Chania city, next to the stunning beach of Maherida. It is an impressive karstic doline, where springs with brackish water gush.
The dam of Faneromeni is located 7km west of the village of Zaros and about 7km north of Tympaki. It is located in a scenic location, in a verdant valley at the southern foot of Psiloritis Mount. The artificial lake covers an area of approximately 1000 acres and has a capacity of 20 million cubic meters.
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.
The pond of Orne village is located at an altitude of 300m at the southeastern slopes of Mount Kedros, only 500m northeast of the village Orne. The distance from Rethymnon is about 50km.
The secluded lake is the unique lake at Thripti and gets its name (skafi means tub in Greek) after its oblong shape. During spring, water is very clear and is perfect for a cold bath. To access this amazing place, follow the dirt track west of Orino village and after 2km walk or drive along the concrete chute that carries water from the mountains to the lake.
The dam of Valsamiotis is located near the village Vatolakos at Kissamos Province and has water capacity of 6 million cubic meters. It was inaugurated in 2014 and since then it has turned to one of the most important wetlands in West Crete.