Crete, the largest Greek island and the fifth in the Mediterranean, has about a thousand kilometers of coastline characterized by small bays, pink beaches and crystal clear waters.
The island of Crete between archaeological sites, memorable cities and a unique historical heritage also has bathing areas suitable for different needs: from equipped beaches to free ones, from areas suitable for families to those where you can party until late at night.
The western part of the island is home to beaches famous worldwide for their beauty, such as Elafonissi and Balos, while the eastern part is less known and still strongly linked to the traditions of the past, here you can find beaches where peace and tranquility reign, such as Xerakampos.
While the beaches of the northern coast are more accessible, more crowded and developed tourism with sandy beaches and equipped with bars, restaurants, bathing establishments, the beaches of the southern coast instead are much less frequented and keep real paradises almost deserted and warm crystal clear waters.
Lambita to the north by the Mediterranean Sea and south by the warm waters of the Libyan Sea, to visit the island of Crete takes at least two weeks and the best way to explore it is to rent a car to get around the territory independently. Here, then, from Chania to Lassithi a list of beaches that you can not absolutely miss during a stay in this island.
The province of Chania is the westernmost of the island and it is here that you will find two of the most famous and iconic beaches of the island: Balos and Elafonissi.
One of the most famous beaches of Crete is definitely the Balos Lagoon where the water is clear and the sand is white and pink, so much so that it seems a real tropical paradise. Balos is part of a protected natural area where you can find species of flora and fauna also rare as the cormorant, the turtle carretta and the monk seal.
The Lagoon can be reached by boat from Kissamos or by following a route first by car and then on foot. If you decide to use the car know that the road to arrive will give you breathtaking views of the Gulf of Kissamos.
Together with the Lagoon of Balos Elafonissi it is a beach not to be missed during a trip to Crete, as it is known as the Caribbean of the Mediterranean for its white beach with pink shades and for its warm and clear water.
The beach is connected with a narrow strip of sand to the small island of Elafonissi: this area hides small beaches where you can sunbathe in relaxation and at its end there are a lighthouse and the church of Agia Irini.
Inserted within a protected natural reserve, in Elafonissi grow several rare plants including white sea daffodils that bloom in summer. Do not miss, here, the magnificent moment of the sunset when the sun goes down below the horizon line gives a panorama of breathtaking colors.
Glyka Nera is a beach that is located in the southern coast of Crete Island and overlooks the Libyan Sea. This beach is not very popular with tourists because it is accessible only by small boats that leave from Loutro or Chora Sfakion or through a wild path to be done on foot that always starts from the town of Chora Sfakion.
Glyka Nera in Greek means “fresh water” and the name derives from the presence of fresh and drinkable water that comes from an underground spring and that comes out among the pebbles of the beach. Surrounded by mountains and characterized by the presence of a sirocco wind, this place is really a hidden treasure thanks to its pebble beach and the deep blue sea.
In the podium among the most beautiful beaches of Crete along with Balos and Elafonissi we find Falassarna which is located just over fifty kilometers from the city of Chania. This beach is often chosen as a destination by surfers for the presence of winds that create waves suitable for this sport.
There are well organized structures that rent umbrellas and sunbeds, but also small free beaches, not to be missed, then, the sunset that here in Falassarna is said to be one of the most beautiful and romantic of the island.
Seitan Limania beach (i.e. “devil’s port”) is located in the village of Akropoli 22 km northeast of the city of Chania. A natural inlet protected by high rocky cliffs that make it a very special place characterized by a beach of pebbles mixed with sand and clear waters but that sometimes can be very rough.
Keep in mind that the beach is not equipped and can be reached by car up to its parking lot and then it is necessary to walk a rocky and steep path for about ten minutes.
Just further east there is the province of Rethymno: the coast is quite indented, especially in the southern part. Not to be missed are the beaches of Preveli and Triopetra.
Preveli Beach is located 38 km south of Rethymno and is one of the most famous beaches of the area thanks to its lagoon surrounded by palm trees, sand mixed with pebbles and emerald green waters. A true oasis characterized by the presence of the river Kourtaliotis that descends from the gorge behind the beach and flows into the sea, creating a truly unique landscape. This area takes its name from the ancient Monastery of Preveli that from the top of a promontory dominates the entire bay.
You can reach Preveli with a boat starting from Plakias or Agia Galini or by car: if you decide to use thecar once parked know that to reach the beach you will have to walk down a staircase of 500 steps.
Triopetra means “beach of the three stones” and its name derives from the presence of three imposing stones that emerge from the sea and divide the beach in two. One part of the beach, the largest area, is commonly called Triopetra, while the other part known as Little Triopetra is more contained and quiet.
After a day at Triopetra, don’t leave this beach without admiring the beautiful sunset that occurs here every late afternoon and that can give you truly stunning views.
Along the New Road, the main road that connects the eastern part of Crete with the western one, we find the picturesque village of Bali that hosts the beach of Livadi. Reachable in less than an hour both from Heraklion and from Rethymno, the beach is located inside a bay well protected from the wind.
The waters of the sea are clean, warm and shallow while the beach area is wide, well equipped and perfectly organized, all details that make it an ideal destination for families with children. Behind the beach there is also an area that hosts several taverns, restaurants and a few small stores.
Heraklion is the capital of Crete, as well as the place with the most intense nightlife: the beaches in the surroundings, such as Matala and Malia, are therefore the most suitable for young people.
In the ’60s and ’70s, Matala had become a refuge for several hippie communities thanks to the presence of natural caves that overlooked a pristine beach. This really suggestive corner of the island has also attracted celebrities such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell who sang about this beach in her song Carey.
Matala Beach is a wide beach characterized by sand with pebbles and a sea with clean and clear water, the natural caves that were home to hippies in the last century are now visited even if it is forbidden to sleep here at night. The beach is well equipped with umbrellas and sunbeds, but also with several clubs that in the evening organize parties with live music.
Malia is a small village of agricultural origins thirty kilometers from Heraklion, where you can still observe some ancient local traditions and where you can find the homonymous archaeological site. The beach, not far from the center, is well equipped and is often the favorite destination for those who love entertainment and parties until late at night. Impossible to get bored in these beaches thanks to the clubs with music and the numerous parties on the beach where often play also famous dj.
Agiofarago is one of the most famous beaches of the island of Crete due to its particular location right at the exit of the Agiofarago Gorge. Located in the southern part of the island and bathed by the waters of the Libyan Sea, to reach this beach it is necessary to take a boat from nearby places such as Matala and Agia Galini or, alternatively, to cross the gorge following a route between its high vertical walls.
Surrounded by high cliffs, Agiofarago is a quiet bay characterized by a beach of small pebbles and crystal clear water. For those who love hiking, it is possible to climb the cliffs to the east and reach the beautiful salt lake of Vourvoulitis from above
The easternmost province is that of Lassithi and boasts one of the most touristic resorts of the island, often used as a base for exploring this area: Agios Nikolaos.
In the eastern coast of the island of Crete, surrounded by palm trees, there is the beach of Vai which is one of the most beautiful of the island for the natural context in which it is inserted. Also known as Palm Beach, thanks to the presence of one of the largest palm forests in Europe, Vai is distinguished by its white sandy beach and its turquoise waters.
The beach is equipped with umbrellas, sunbeds and the possibility of doing water sports and, unlike other beaches on the island, here the sea has a bed of rocks that becomes deep within a few meters. From Vai it is possible to reach on foot the beautiful uncontaminated beach of Psili Ammos which is still little known and not equipped.
Still little known, Xerakampos is an oasis of peace and tranquility less than forty kilometers from Sitia. Although it is not easy to get there because of the winding road, this corner of paradise is characterized by blue sea waters and fine sand that really deserve a visit.
Surrounded by lush and sometimes wild Mediterranean vegetation, the beach of Xerokampos is ideal for those seeking arelaxing vacation. Here there are still small villages that carry on ancient local traditions and you can also find small taverns and clubs that will offer you excellent fresh fish dishes.
Known to be the favorite destination of celebrities and prominent figures in the field of politics and economics, Elounda is the perfect place for those seeking a stay of luxury and relaxation. This village is located on the beautiful Gulf of Mirabello along the northeastern coast of Crete at about 10 km from Agios Nikolaos and is able to give its visitors some of the most beautiful views of the island.
The town beach is located near the small and is well equipped, consisting of soft sand and clear shallow sea water. Elounda thanks to its location near the beautiful peninsula of Spinalonga also hides small beaches and private coves that are, however, for the exclusive use of some resorts or some villas.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article