Azure colored water, crystal clear and always calm (faces south)
Orthi Ammos is one spectacular sandy and shallow beach, next to Frangokastelo, located 80km south of Chania, at the edge of a big valley with very warm climate. The area is not overdeveloped, in contrary to the touristic area of Frangokastelo.It is famous for the big sand hills and dunes that have been shaped and the crystal clear waters. The beach is affected by south winds, but not too much. The east part of the beach is usually occupied by nudists.The beach is very quiet, in comparison to Frangokastelo that is directly next to it. However, there are a very few accommodation and food amenities, but no sunbeds and water sport services.
Fragokastelo (ie the castle of the Franks) is one of the most famous beaches of Crete, famous for the local Venetian castle on the beautiful beach and the legendary ghosts of Drosoulites. It is located 13km east of Hora Sfakion, 80km southeast of Chania, in a small valley south of the White Mountains.The main beach of Frangokastelo is truly magnificent, with sand and shallow turquoise waters, ideal for children. It is poorly organized and is quite busy. The only problem you may encounter is the often irritating winds coming from South, transporting the sand with strength. There are many rooms, restaurants, cafes and shops in the area, but the nearest ATM and hospital is located in Sfakia. West of the main beach you will find the long beach Vatalos, which is sandy and has pebbles and rocks in parts, making it ideal for snorkelling. Walking 300m east from the main beach for 10 minutes, you will find the magnificent beach of Orthi Ammos, famous for the large sand dunes.To get here by car from Chania you will need to take the National Road connecting Chania and Heraklion. Take the exit to Vrysses and drive in the road to Chora Sfakion (Sfakia). You will cross the plateau of the Plateau and then drive in the impressive gorge of Imbros, which leads to the south coast of Sfakia. Then, follow the signs to Fragokastelo. The journey takes 1 hour and 20 minutes. If you drive from Rethymno, follow the road for Plakias and before Plakias continue east to Rodakino, Fragokastelo and Sfakia. The journey takes approximately one hour and is easier, but less impressive than the journey through the Imbros Gorge. Alternatively, you can visit Fragokastelo by bus from Chania.
Beach Filaki (meaning "Prison") is located 3km east of Chora Sfakia and 75km south of Chania. Located close to the only hotel exclusively for nudists in Crete, called "Vritomartis, Filaki and the adjacent beach of Vritomartis are mainly occupied by nudists.
These two beaches are actually the only "official" nudism-friendly beaches on Crete. There is a taverna which is almost totally nude, and many of the visitors to the beach walk all the way back to their cars at the parking lot before bothering to dress. You can't get much more naturist-friendly than this.
The beach of Filaki is pebbly and rocky in places and not open to the winds. It is completely isolated, despite the fact that access by car or walking from the nearby Sfakia is easy. On the beach there are no accommodation services, water sports or restaurants, but there are sunbeds.
Iligas is an amazing turquoise-water sandy beach, 1km west of Chora Sfakion and 74km south of Chania. Iligas is located at the end of Kavi Gorge, that starts from Anopolis. There are two beaches, separated with a big cavy rock.
The main one is bigger and can be accessed by walking a short distance from the main road of Sfakia-Anopolis. The second one that is east of the former can be accessed only by boat or by swimming from the main beach.
There is one small taverna with rooms to let near Iligas beach, biut there are moer amenities in Chora Sfakion.
Iligas is one of the nicest accessible beaches of south Crete. There are many caves, in which you can keep yourself in shadow. It's quite easy to access and is close to Sfakia, so you can visit that by walking from Sfakia (taking 10-15 min).
Glyka Nera (meaning "sweet water") is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, with deep blue water color and nice pebbles. In 2003, the beach was ranked among the best 20 in Europe by London Times. This is located 43km west of Chora Sfakion and 75km south of Chania. This is called like this because of the fresh water that gushes from the pebbles!
The only way to access Glyka Nera is by boat. For adventurous people, there is a path leading here from Chora Sfakion (takes 30') and another tougher path from Loutro (takes 60' and chiking near the edge is quite stressful).
There is a small rough taverna on the beach that sells food, cold beverages and sunbeds. You don't need to have water with you, since the water from spring is potable. Sea water is generally cold because of the springs, even in mid summer. If you have the opportunity, you should visit Glyka Nera.
Loutro is a small seaside village situated approximately 71 km south of Chania, at the end of Cape Mouri. It is believed that this was the site of the ancient city of Phoenix and was the ancient port of Anopolis. Later, it became a winter port for Chora Sfakion, due to the fact that the enclosed bay and the small island at its entrance create a natural harbor where ships can be safe even in very bad weather.
You can stay at Loutro and use it as a base for visiting surrounding beaches, either by taxi boat, canoe or on foot. You can visit the magestic beach of Glyka Nera east of the village. Moreover, you can canoe or walk till the adjacent unorganised pebbly beaches of Timios Stavros and Pervolaki that are located 1km east of the village, just before Glyka Nera. However, if you want to stay at Loutro, the small beach in front of Loutro and the longer beach right after the east end of the village, called Keramos, are a very good choice, especially when wind from South is strong. The beaches are pebbly, well-organised and the water is always calm and has an amazing deep blue and green color. Moreover, you could visit the closeby beaches of Likos, Finikas and Marmara. There is a boat that leaves every day to Marmara and Glyka Nera.
Loutro is a place for those people who want something different. A small picturesque fishing village in south west Crete, not yet spoilt by mass tourism. For example there are no big hotels with swimming pools. There are no overcrowded streets, restaurants and beaches, there are no cars!
The only access is by boat or as you wish, by foot (1.5 hour hard trekking from Chora Sfakion). There are daily routes to/from Chora Sfakion, Sougia, Gavdos island, Paleochora and Agia Roumeli.
Once in Loutro, enjoy walking in the scenic, unspoilt mountain countryside with its valleys and gorges. Firstly, you could climb to the beautiful situated village of Anopolis. You have to climb 2000 feet on a 2000 year old mule track, which you must take very easily, one foot in front of the other, sticking to the zigzag path, taking regular stops, especially if you are not walking in the shade. Allow just under two hours up to Anopolis where there is a very good choice of tavernas. You could also explore the Aradaina Gorge, the Imbros Gorge or the Samaria Gorge or make a day trip by boat to the island of Gavdos, the most southern tip of Europe and try to get a glimpse of escorting dolphins.
Agios Pavlos (Saint Paul) is one incredible beach at Opiso Egiali area, 3km east of Agia Roumeli and 6km west of Loutro, in the exit of the wild Eligia Gorge. The beach is totally secluded from civilization, since the only possible to come here is by boat or by long trekking. The closest harbors are Agia Roumeli and Loutro. Walking from Agia Roumeli takes 50'-60', on an easy path that runs beside the sea.
The beach is covered by clear gray and brown sand and is hidden inside a beautiful small pine forest. Of course, there are no amenities closeby, except a small tavern where you can get water and food. The shade of pines is plenty, but the trees are not on the beach, thus it would be better to have an umbrella with you.
A very nice place for very calm family holidays, surrounded by dense pine grove and the towering mountains of Thripti Range.
Agia Roumeli is a small secluded village, located 56km south of Chania, on a wide bay shaped at the exit of the Samaria Gorge. Thousands of visitors, descending the gorge, reach this place every day..
Agia Roumeli is a calm place in the wild and mountainous landscape of Sfakia. The only way to reach the village is either through the gorge or by the ferry from Chora Sfakia, Loutro, Paleochora and Sougia. The more adventurous (and lucky) visitors could walk the path from Sfakia to St. Roumeli (7 hours). The picturesque village of Agia Roumeli provides all basic amenities, such as taverns with traditional food, rooms for accommodation, cafes, mini market, internet access and telephone.
Daily, between 13:00 to 16:00, the village and its beaches are swamped by the visitors of the gorge. However, after the departure of ferries, the village gets very calm! If you choose not to follow the crowd with the ferry, but to stay in the village for at least one night, then you will have the opportunity to admire this beautiful place with its unique people and the stunning natural beauty.
The beaches of Agia Roumeli are magnificent, spanning a length of 3 km. The closer you are in the village, the more crowded and organized it will be.
The beach in front of the taverns, west of the harbor, is the most organized and provides a lot of amenities (restaurants, showers, umbrellas, pedal boats, etc.). This pebbly beach is the most crowded beach of all in the area..
On the east sides of the bay, beyond the river of Samaria gorge, there beautiful rocky formations and cavities, which have beautiful pebbly beaches in front of them. These beaches are usually deserted. Even further, the beach becomes rocky and suitable for nudism and snorkelling.
The west side of the bay of Agia Roumeli is called Mashali. There is a second dock for boats and a lonely tavern with rooms. Next to this dock, there are two beautiful beaches with fine pebble. The tavern provides sunbeds, umbrellas and canoes for free. On these beaches, there are large rocks that provide shade, between which nudists may feel isolated. Little attention is needed when you walk in the main road, from the tavern to the dock, because goats on the mountain often cause stonefalls. Stonefalls are not very dangerous, but in order to keep safe, avoid walking next to the mountain walls, but keep on the left side.
Lastly, if you swim or kayak beyond the western edge of the beach, you will meet 2-3 caves, in front which "XS size" pebbly beaches are formed! They are known as Spilies sto Marmaro (i.e. Caves in Marble).
Chora Sfakíon or Sfakia is a small town on the south coast of Chania. It is the capital of the remote and mountainous region of Sfakia, and is a small town of just 278 inhabitants (2001 census). It lies on the south coast near the end of the Imbros Gorge, 74km south of Chania.
Vrissi is the main beach of Chora Sfakion and is located at the west end of the town. This is a nice pebbly beach, well organised and close to the amenities of the town. There is a smaller, less nice beach, directly next to the small harbor of Sfakia, in front of the tavernas. This is the harbor from where the ferry runs to Agia Roumeli, Loutro, Sougia, Gavdos island or Paleochora.
Marmara (meaning marbles) is a nice secluded small pebbly beach shaped near the exit of the imposing Aradaina Gorge, in Sfakia region. It is located 85km south of Chania and 5km west of Loutro. It is the beach where the ramblers of Aradaina Gorge rest. However, visitors coming from Loutro do usually visit the place.
The name Marmara means "marbles" and is named after the soft colorful rocks that cover the area. The beach is very far from the civilisation since it's 60' walking distance from the closest inhabited beach of Likkos and 75' from Loutro. There are no roads here, so walking and boat are the only possible ways to reach the place. There is one small taverna near the beach, where you can rest, but that's all.
During the summer, there are daily boat routes from Loutro. Once in the Loutro area, visiting Marmara and hiking in the south part of Aradaina Gorge is highy suggested.
The beautiful beach Dhomata is located 7km east of Sougia and 58km south of Chania. The beach is the ending point of the wild and rugged gorge of Klados.
The beach is beautiful with fine pebbles and crystal clear blue waters. If you dig in the sand, you can find fresh water. As expected, the region has no roads and no infrastructures. The numerous pine trees near the beach offer natural shade and a good camping opportunity.
Dhomata is one of the finest intact beaches in Greece. There will be only you, the sea, the sun and the pine trees.
Access to Dhomata is possible either through Klados gorge, or by boat. If you walk in the gorge and there is no boat waiting for you, the only path leading to civilization is the rugged trail that heads east and leads to the Agia Roumeli (3 -4 hours on foot). However, beware that the slopes are very steep and dangerous, as the trail climbs at an altitude of 700m.
The beach of Tripiti is located 5km east of Sougia and 68km south of Chania, at the ending point of the rough gorge of Trypiti. It has crystal blue water and is pebbly. It is absolutely secluded, as all the beaches of the wider Sfakia area. Access to Tripiti is possible either by boat or by walking in a difficult path from Sougia (three hours). The vertical cliffs near the beach provide natural shade.
Tripiti is believed to be the site of the ancient town Poikilasos with the protected natural harbor.The port has been converted to a reef with incredible formations after some geological changes during the 4th AD century. Inscriptions have been discovered in the area, revealing the existence of a temple dedicated to Serapis (Greco-Egyptian god of antiquity). Moreover, archaeologists have discovered several tombs, carved in the rocks.
On the beach there is a cistern with water, a goat pen and the picturesque church of Agios Nikolaos. If you are in the area on July 19, you can take part in the celebration of the Prophet Elijah, that celebrates on July 20. The pilgrims arrive by boat in the afternoon on the beach of Trypiti and then walk in the path leading to the chapel of Prophet Elijah, 400 meters above sea level. They spend the night there with food and traditional Cretan songs and leave on the next day.
Sougia is a small village located 75km west of Chania, at the exit of the beautiful Gorge of Agia Irini. A favorite destination for hippies in the 70s', today it is a perfect choice for peaceful holidays in a beautiful landscape with all the basic amenities provided. In Sougia you will find many restaurants, taverns, rooms, coffee shops, bars, a mini market, a kiosk and an ATM. However, you will not find gas station, hospital, pharmacy or bank.
In front of the village lies a lovely quiet long beach with coarse sand, crystal clear deep water. The beach starts from the small harbor of Sougia (west) and stretches to the east for 1.5km. The beach ends in a small cove, hidden between rocks well protected from prying eyes. The eastern part of the long beach is not organized and is preferred almost exclusively by naturists. Instead, the beach in front of the village offers umbrellas, showers, sports and a lifeguard tower. Along the beach there are plenty of tamarisk trees where you can camp or find shade.
In summer, boats run daily from Sougia to Chora Sfakion, Paleochora, Agia Roumeli and Loutro. Also there are routes to Gavdos.
The beach of Pacheia Ammos (i.e. Coarse Sand) is located on the west side of Paleochora, 79km south of Chania. Pacheia Ammos has been awarded with a blue flag, which confirms that this is a safe and clean beach.
It is the main beach of Paleochora, well organizated and in close proximity to all touristic amenities. The beach is 1km long, which makes it always seem empty. It has fine white sand and shallow waters, ideal for children. However, when westerly or southerly winds blow, the waves are quite big and need attention.
Umbrellas, bars, snack bars, bars, watersports equipment, showers and lifeguard tower are some of the provided services. Also, the western part of the beach is secluded and is mainly preferred by nudists.
Damnoni is located 35km south of Rethymno and 5km east of Plakias. It is a popular tourist resort, very well developed and organized. Damnoni is located at the exit of a large valley, protected by high mountains.
The beach that stretches in front of the resort is a long bay with beautiful turquoise waters and coarse white sand. Here you will find all the services of a very well organized beach like umbrellas, snack bars, showers, changing rooms, water sports, scuba diving centre, great hotels, restaurants, horse riding centre etc. The west end of the beach, the most organized part, has a small river with water all year round. Moreover, there is a tavern in the middle of the beach “drowned” in tamarisk trees. The eastern end of the beach is quieter and is linked with the adjacent beaches of Ammoudi via a short dirt road.
Moreover, beyond the west end of the beach there are several small coves with sand and rocks, where you can get isolated. These are located just next to the small harbor of the area.
Preveli is located about 35km south of Rethymno and 10km east of Plakias. Beach of Preveli, also known as Lake Preveli or Phoenix, is located at the exit of the imposing Kourtaliotikos Gorge, where the Great River (Megas Potamos) is flowing.
It is certainly the most famous beach in southern Crete, accepting thousands of visitors every summer. During the 60s and 70s, it was a favorite destination for hippies. On the banks of the Grand River there is a large colony of Theophrastus palm trees, which give the region a sense of an African landscape. The river, forming a large lake, 1.5km long, before emptying into the sea, has water all year round. You can walk along the river, under the shade of palm trees and other trees, and start ascending in the beautiful canyon. You can swim in the cold ponds formed in the gorge.
At the exit of the river, a sandy beach with pebbles and sand is formed, with sea water being very cool due to the river. In the eastern part of the beach, there is a beautiful rock reminding of a mast. It is poorly organized because the area is protected, without any umbrellas, but with a few restaurants and snack bars nearby. Moreover, you could rent pedal boats for a ride in the river.
Matala is located 68km southwest of Heraklion, on the boundaries of the plain Messara and Asteroussia Mountains. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Crete and certainly the most famous beach of Heraklion. It is famous for the carved caves in the rocks and the hippies of the ‘70s. It is located close to Phaestus, the second largest palace of the Minoan civilization. Matala was the port of Phaestus, and on the Roman Times, it became a port of Gortys.
Matala is located at the exit of a small valley, which forms a large enclosed bay with nice view to the islands of Paximadia.The bay is a beautiful long sandy beach, 300m long, with fine gravel and crystal clear deep water. Moreover, the seabed is quite rocky in some places and the waves, due to frequent westerly winds, are very large and amazing. Furthermore, there is a huge cave on the north part of the beach, from the top of which some "crazy" people splash in the water. The beach is very well organized with umbrellas, toilets, showers, lifeguard, first aids, beach volley courts, snack bars, water sports, excursion boats, etc. Around Matala you will find many options for accommodation, entertainment and eating. Also, a large part of the beach is covered by tamarisk trees, where you can find shade. In the evenings, the bars on the beach are full with many people, both locals and foreigners.
Faflagos is located 89km southeast of Iraklion, near the village Arvi. It is a small seaside settlement at the exit of a small valley, which is crossed by the river Blavaris, which has no water in summer. In front of the village, stretches a very long shore with beautiful and tranquil beaches. Nearby, there are many greenhouses with crops of bananas and fresh vegetables.
The first beach in front of the village is Faflagkos and has coarse gray sand. Do not expect to find anything here except a few rooms and some trees on the beach.
If you walk westwards you will find a more tranquil beach next to many greenhouses, which locals call Kalikovrechtis. It is a beach with rocks and marbles, which, however, every few years (approximately 1 in 10) has sand.