Agia Pelagia (Santa Pelagia) is located 21km west of Heraklion, on the south side of the small Cape Souda, surrounded by several coves with beautiful beaches. Agia Pelagia was initially a small and picturesque settlement used by the residents of Achlada village for growing their crops; today it has transformed into a bustling tourist resort with many hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, internet cafés, ATMs, taxis, etc., and is connected with regular bus services to Heraklion.
The main beach of the settlement is a long and narrow beach with sand and greenish water. The Turks named this beach of Agia Pelagia as Tsanak Limani because the round shape of it reminded them of a plate (tsanak = plate). Indeed, the water is almost always calm here and the bay forms a natural quiet harbor. The beach offers many options for watersports, diving, umbrellas, food, and accommodation. The beach in some places is very narrow and the sunbeds have occupied almost the entire width of the beach, leaving little room to put on someone's towel.
The main beach of Agia Pelagia is well protected from the north winds by the Cape of Souda, on which several ruins of the ancient port town Apollonia have been identified. Today on Souda there is a deluxe hotel, but you can visit the antiquities. Just south of the hotel, in the north of the beach, there is the cavity of Evresi with a small shrine commemorating the place where the icon of Santa Pelagia was found some centuries ago. The former monastery of Agia Pelagia was built some meters to the west of the beach; during the Venetian era it was famous throughout the island and its feast was a bank holiday. Thousands of worshippers came to the beach during the feast of the monastery and they put their feet or naked bodies in the sand, to cure their illnesses.
If you walk along the Cape of Souda, passing by the shrine, after a few steps you will be above the most beautiful beach of Agia Pelagia, Fylakes. Fylakes (Prisons) are two tiny coves with fine sand and greenish water, sheltered by the tall rocks of Cape Souda. The beaches are so narrow that when the sea gets wavy, they disappear. In order to access Fylakes you have to go down along the rocky coast that leads to the beach. You have to get wet to your chest in order to reach the beach, anyway, so take care of your stuff.
A third unknown beach with pebbles is formed east of Agia Pelagia, below Hotel Diana. Vlyhada is a very small artificial beach with pebbles, but it is open to the winds. It is accessed only by swimming from Agia Pelagia, as access through the hotel is not allowed; it's private land.
Agia Pelagia was one of the most important ports in the region during the Venetian period. During the siege of Candia (today’s Heraklion) this port was used for providing help to the besieged Cretans. Later, the Turks built a fort here, traces of which do not exist today. Here, the legendary ship of Arkadi anchored during the Cretan Revolution, in order to provide ammunition to the rebels.