The Bay of Karteros is located at the exit of the homonym Gorge Karteros, 7km east of Heraklion and extends to the east for 3.5km. It is named after the Byzantine General, Krateros, who in 824AC landed on the beach with his ships in order to liberate Crete from the Saracens, but was defeated. On the long bay, there are two settlements, Karteros and Amnissos. The area has developed so much that the two villages are now merged. The main reason for the rapid development of the area is the small distance from Heraklion and the beautiful beachfront with the fine golden sand.
There are many hotels, restaurants and beach bars nearby. Karteros Bay is open to north winds and the water is usually wavy. The water is shallow and there are no rocks, apart from a very few places. The lest crowded part of the beach is located adjacent to the airport “Nikos Kazantzakis”, 7km west of Heraklion. This part is called Florida, after an old tavern called like this (not existing anymore) and is the calmest of all beaches. There are a few umbrellas and not too many facilities around, compared to the easternmost beaches. In Florida empties the river that runs in the Gorge of Karteros, which is definitely worth visiting especially in spring. On the beach a small wetland is formed, which dries up in summer. In Florida you should visit the old Church of St. John and St. Nikon Metanoite, which is built inside a large cave. Lastly, do not get surprised if you see horses on the beach, because there is the Riding Club of Heraklion.
1km to the east, in the middle of the bay, there is the main beach of Karteros, which is well developed and has many beach bars and the Municipal Beach of Heraklion. Here you can swim and enjoy a drink with all the necessary amenities near you. A few meters further east is the beach of Xenia. It is named after an old hotel, which has been abandoned. In Xenia there are some beach bars and an organized beach, which gathers a lot of people.
East of Xenia you will see a large hill, the hill of Paleohora, where archaeologists have identified the ruins of the ancient town Amnisos. The excavations have revealed a Minoan harbor, several buildings and an outdoor ancient temple, where Zeus Thenatas was worshipped. To the east, a Minoan villa of 1600BC was found with excellent frescoes representing the famous Lilies of Knossos. It seems that the Minoan fleet officer lived here or maybe king Minos. South of Amnissos you can visit the mysterious cave of Eileithyia.
East of the Paleohora Hill, you should visit the wonderful beach of Amnisos. It is well organized, but less crowded than the rest beaches. Just 300m north of the beach there is the small island Monocharako where you can swim. However, when you get there you have to be very careful, because there are many urchins and stepping on the rocks will be tricky. The best way to reach the islet is by renting a sea pedaller in Amnisos. According to local legend the islet was once the tip of a small peninsula that once housed the most powerful city of Crete, ruled by the King Kourkoumelis. One day, the king exclaimed "No God can demolish such a Great Kourkoumelis!" and suddenly the city sank with the only remnant being that islet!
Even further east, you will find the last part of the bay of Karteros which is called Tobruk, after the famous African resort in Libya. In Tobruk you will find many fish taverns and hotels. The beach is very well organized, but if you want to stay remote you can walk to the east, where the beach gets rockier and there are no facilities around.