The Coves of Hersonissos (Limanakia) are located 27km east of Heraklion, starting from Cape Sarandaris and continuing to the east till the harbour of Hersonissos. They are really beautiful beaches with calm water because Cape Sarandaris protects them from the frequent northwest winds. Access to all coves is easy and the surrounding area is well developed. The busy town of Hersonissos is within walking distance, but if you want to stay at night close to the coves, there are several bars and cafes. Let’s now see the beaches, starting from the west.
The westernmost beach that you will find here is not actually a beach, but a cement dock from where you can dive. It is located on the west part of the rocky Cape Sarandaris, near the picturesque chapel of St. George Sarandaris. Close to the picturesque chapel, there is a staircase leading to the rock. On the rock, you might see the umbrellas of the nearby hotels. Swimming there is a great experience and the rocky seabed is a very good choice for snorkeling.
On the base of the Cape Sarandaris, you'll find the amazing beach of Sarandaris Cape, maybe the nicest and mostly protected (from winds) beach in Hersonissos area. It is a sandy beach with shallow water and vivid blue colors. The beach is not as crowded as the rest beaches; climbing down the steep stairs from the whitish limestone cliffs is a bit tricky. There is a small sea cave formed in the whitish limestone at the north end of the beach.
Most believe that naturist beaches are found only on the remote coasts of southern Crete. However, this is not absolute and Hersonissos is one of these exceptions. Indeed, just next to the beach at the base of Sarandaris Cape, there is a stony naturist beach well protected by high cliffs and prying eyes. The sand here alternates with rocks and water. It is a very good choice for swimming and isolation. To get here you have to follow the main road that runs alongside the coves and heads to Anissaras. At the point where the road changes direction, vertical to the shore, keep going straight along the coast. After 50 meters you will find the beach below your right hand, where the asphalt road stops. You go down to the beach of Cape Sarandaris and then walk to the nudists' beach.
Just after the nudist beach there is the amazing beach of Sarandari (this is actually known as Sarandari, as this is the most popular beach in Sarandaris area). A short cement stair leads to the beach, starting from the main road. The water in Sarandari is shallow and the sand is perfect for kids (during some years, rocks appear in the sea). On the beach there are umbrellas, sunbeds and a small canteen.
Immediately after Sarandari and adjacent to the coastal road, you will find the beach of Giofyri, with a tall concrete wall supporting the main road above it. The beach has white coarse sand (some people call it “rice”), has deep waters compared to Sarandari and its bottom is quite rocky. The beach is very well organized with umbrellas and sunbeds, and is usually crowded.
From Giofyri, if you head to the east along the coast road, you will see numerous very small and narrow beaches, where the sand is combined with white rocks and the water color has beautiful light blue hues. The same scenery continues till the point where the road changes direction and you meet the hotel Creta Maris. From there you can walk along the coast until you reach the large and wide beach in front of the hotel, ending at the port of Hersonissos, near the hill of Kastri. It is very well organized with sun beds and umbrellas, water sports and beach volley court. As you head towards the harbor, it gets busier and more vulnerable to winds. Lastly, after the hotel, the seaside road reappears and runs along the coastline to the port. The road is full with shops, cafes and restaurants.
Even if you do not want to swim in the Coves, an afternoon stroll from the port to the Cape of Sarandaris is a unique experience. Do not forget your camera, in order to take pictures of the chapel of St. George in Sarandaris and the magical views of Hersonissos Bay. Moreover, in the port of Hersonissos it is worth walking to the lighthouse and visiting the church of Agia Paraskevi, a part of which is built into the rock. On Kastri Hill there are findings of the early Christian basilica of Hersonissos, with some mosaics still visible.