Asterousia Range is the southernmost massif in Europe that stretches from Matala to Anapodaris River. The wild beauty and the remoteness of most places are the basic reasons to attract many visitors that believe that this is the place with the best beaches in Crete.
If you exclude the repelling landscape of tanks, you will certainly be enchanted by the beautiful beaches of Kali Limenes, which are suitable for swimming all year round. As its name name suggests, sea in Kali Limenes (i.e. Fair Harbors) is almost always calm, except in winter. This was one of the reasons for the construction of the tanks here. If you visit the place on weekend, all its beaches are crowded by thousands of people, despite the tiring route in Asterousia.
Stena is located 75km southwest of Heraklion, just 500m west of Kali Limenes harbor. It is situated in a secluded bay, which is hidden beyond the hill with the church and the cave of St. Paul. According to the legend, the Apostle lived inside this cave for 2 years. Stena can be accessed via a downhill dirt road, 400m long, starting in Kali Limenes. The route, of course, can be easily walked.
To get there you must either cross the gorge, by easy hiking of about 30-50’, or catch a boat from Matala, Agia Galini, or Kali Limenes. We definitely recommend the first option, as the route within the vertical walls of the gorge is breathtaking. On the way you will see the large caves were some hermits still live and the chapel of St. Anthony, with a well outside.
Martsalo is a secluded beach in the west Asterousia Mountains, one of the most inaccessible areas of Heraklion. It is located just a few kilometers from the “horn” of Messara Plain, the Cape Lithino, and 80km southwest of Heraklion.
The beach is shaped at the exit of a small gorge, surrounded by long cliffs. The circular bight of the bay conceals it from the open sea, making Vathy a natural hideout. It is no coincidence that pirates used it as their anchorage. The well-protected beach has almost always calm waters, although the surrounding beaches can be very wavy.
The Red Beach is located at location Moudia, 68km southwest of Heraklion and just 800m south of Matala famous resort. To get here you have to walk a trail that begins north of the settlement of Matala and crosses the hill north of Matala. There used to be some signs showing the way.