Maridaki is a seaside settlement on the eastern side of Asterousia Mount, 65km south of Heraklion and in the west side of Tsoutsouras Bay. Despite the short distance from Tsoutsouras (2.5 km), there is no direct road linking the two settlements (except from a footpath). The village can be accessed via a 15km long poor dirt road that starts before the village Ahedrias (near village Mesohorio). The route passes among the towering cliffs and wild rocks of Asterousia. The same road leads to the monastery of Saint Nikitas. Never leave your car under the trees of Maridaki, because the goats will destroy it.
Maridaki is also called Saint Panteleimon, named after the local church. It is built in the wild and dry landscape of southern Crete, at the exit of the imposing Achendrias Gorge. However, a spring and a small stream brings potable water to the beach all year round, creating an oasis with perrenial plane trees along its banks. At the place of the springs, there is a large square with 200 years old plane trees and a small tavern. Just beyond this place, the locals say that the fairies live. About 15' minutes from the settlement, you can see the amazing waterfalls of Lichnistis (till early spring).
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In this small village you will see mostly locals who enjoy the sea and the sun and live in their summer houses, which unfortunately are arbitrarily structured. The shore in front of the village is a lovely beach with fine pebbles and huge vertical rocks around. Along the shore, several coves are formed with sand, where you can find shade. However, attention is needed because goats pass over the edges of the cliffs, causing frequent landslides. The sea is quite deep, but also very cool because of the stream. In Maridaki you will find showers, a small coffee shop, a tavern and some rooms to let. There are two more beaches located at the base of Cape Kerkelos north of the settlement, in the area called Nisakia (i.e. islets) named after two small rocks in the sea.
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If you come to Maridaki you should visit the springs of the village and enjoy the cool water. Next to it there is the church of Saint Panteleimon, which was formely dedicated to Virgin Mary and St. Mamas, patron of shepherds. If you have a car you should visit Saint Nikitas (2km from Maridaki) with the homonymous monastery and the awesome beach of Agios Nikitas, the beautiful palmgrove of Saint Anthony (3km) and the chapel of the Holy Cross (1km outside the village).
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The trail Maridaki - Tsoutsouras
Maridaki is one of the few places on Crete where access on foot is much faster than by car. When in Tsoutsouras, you can walk to the Maridaki through a beautiful and well built footpath (20'), passing through a fantastic landscape with wild carob trees, caves, dry grassland and superb sea views. One of the caves that you will meet has been associated with tales of mystery and metaphysical phenomena, like the entire region Tsoutsouras. It is worth asking a local to tell you such stories. The mysterious cave is called Drakospilia (Dragon's Cave) and is located in the middle distance. It's entrance is small and is not very well discernible and perhaps you will not see it. After the entrance the cave is growing and has great depth. If you get through it you may get scared from the bats. There is a very narrow passage, behind which locals say that anyone who went never came back, perhaps due to volcanic fumes. Here exactly lies the mystery of the cave, as the locals say they have seen strange phenomena. It is believed to hide a fabulous treasure and the tomb of a great king. The king is Sarpedon (of Lycia), which's body they say is preserved in honey. Others believe that there is the tomb of Alexander the Great, and he was burried here by one of his trusty friends, coming from the area. The mystery continues when you hear the many versions of the locals with monsters and dragons, U.S.A. missions and helicopter patrols when someone enters the cave. Also, the locals say at the place where Tsoutsouras is lastly visiblew from the sea, if you go by boat in the sunset you will see the dome of a church in the water coming from the lost city of Queen Achendra.