The monastery of Koudoumas is located 74km south of Heraklion, on the west side of Cape Martelos and south of Kofinas Peak (the highest peak of Asterousia Mountains). The whole area is full of cavities where hermits used to find shelter. To reach the monastery, you have to drive in a 20km long dirt road starting from the village Sternes, which descends from an altitude of 1000m to the sea level. The views during the descent are shocking and could cause vertigo! The route passes between pine and cypress trees, many of which are bent by the strong winds.
In front of the monastery, there is a wonderful beach with fine pebbles and crystal clear cool waters. It is ideal for swimming and quiet moments. If you are a fan of nudism, please note that it is not allowed here. Except from the monastery, there is absolutely no infrastructure within several kilometers, so make sure you have everything essential with you. Camping on the beach is permitted, provided that your presence is discreet and will not offend the monks. On the east side of the beach, there are several caves where you can stay overnight and find shade during the day.
The Monastery of Koudoumas is dedicated to the Assumption. The initial church was situated in a small cave. The chapel was firstly built in the 14th century and was dedicated to Christ, but it was later abandoned or destroyed by pirates. In 1878, the Saints Parthenios and Evmenios began to build the monastery on the ruins of the old church. Today, it has been renovated and the old frescoes have been revealed. There is also a second, more modern church in honor of Saint Parthenios and Evmenios, celebrating on July 10. The relics of saints are kept in the monastery.
When the monastery celebrates on August 15 and 10 July, every year, hundreds of worshipers arrive there and spend the night on the beach, participating in the feast. If you come till Koudoumas, you should walk for 15’ to 25’ westwards, to Cave Avakkospilio in which monks lived. The cave has an impressive decoration of stalactites, stalagmites and large columns. In ancient times, the cave was a site for worshiping a goddess of fertility and childless women were brought here. You could also follow the path to the cave of St. Anthony (60'-90'). Moreover, if you are fond of walking, you can walk to the east, in the old footpath that heads to the village Paranimfi (4-5 hours).