Arvi is a large seaside village located 79km southeast of Heraklion and 35km west of Ierapetra, in a small valley formed in front of the imposing Gorge of Arvi. It is built on the location of the ancient city Arvi. In the valley of Arvi and the surrounding area, there are many greenhouses. The locals deal mainly with agriculture, because the warm climate of the region favors the production of bananas, fresh vegetables and olive oil. The small banana of Arvi has a special scent and unique flavor; in 1981 banana imports were banned in Greece and the bananas of Arvi became very famous throughout Greece.
The village tourism sector has developed during the last years, mainly because is very close to truly beautiful beaches. Arvi is a very quiet place, ideal for families. West of the small harbor is the main beach of the area, with coarse sand and some pebbles in places. It is well organized with umbrellas, water sports and with many options for accommodation and food around. If you walk westwards, you will find a long pebbly beach, where you can relax and stay more secluded. It is near the main road heading to Amiras village and next to the pebble beach of Kolimbi, settlement.
West of kolimbi we can walk and in 5' minutes we reach the remote sandy beach of Meakis, also known as Vahoudianos Xerokambos. The beach is located in a secluded bay with fine sand and clear water, which is never busy. It is a haven for those seeking isolation. The name is taken after a nickname of a local who was named Meakis and owned the surrounding land. The beachside is full of the magnificent white sand lilies. The only thing you need, if you come in midday, is an umbrella because the surrounding vegetation is low. Still there are some tamarisk trees on the beach.
Arvi is inhabited, at least, since 2600 BC, as neolithic findings have been extracted. The good climate of the area has probably contributed to this early habitation. During the Roman era, Arvi was one of the major ports of the Mediterranean Sea. A Roman bath has been found next to the church of Saint Panteleimon, and several tombs, unfortunately looted. However, the most important finding of the region is the marble sarcophagus, carved with Dionysiac scenes, found near the sea by locals in the 19th century. Unfortunately, the locals broke the sarcophagus in order to find gold and it is now exhibited restored in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Similar is the story of a second sarcophagus of the Roman ruler of the region. The people broke it into pieces, in order to build the altar of the church, but the cap was rescued and is now exhibited in the same museum.
Arvi got its name after the temple of Arvios Zeus, who was worshiped in Arvion Mount, near the village. It is assumed that the sanctuary was built at the exit of the wild gorge of Arvi, in the area where the Monastery of Saint Anthony is now built. The Monastery of Saint Anthony is truly unique, because it is built on the steep slopes of the gorge. Finally, some scientists believe that Arvi was the point where the Saracens disembarked, when they conquered Crete in 828AC.