Cretan beaches pretty much have it all including crystal clear waters and stunning scenery. For beach lovers looking for the perfect summer beach getaway, we have compiled a list of the 6 amazing Cretan beaches to visit.
6 Amazing Cretan beaches
Balos Lagoon Beach, Chania
Balos Lagoon Beach is simply stunning. That’s why it is one of the most photographed beaches of Crete. You can find it approximately 56 kilometres northwest of Chania and 17 kilometres northwest of Kissamos. Balos is famous for its breathtaking scenery, including white sand and turquoise waters. The Natura 2000 program protects the area.
The beach can be accessed in several ways. You can take a morning ferry which leaves from Kissamos where visitors get to experience the wild shores of Gramvousa. Drive a car or motorbike which involves heading down a dirt road starting at Kaliviani and runs toCape Gramvousa. After a 10 kilometre drive, there is a 1-kilometre long path leading to the beach. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Adventure lovers can access the beach by trekking for three hours from Kaliviani. The beach gets extremely crowded during July and August.
Elafonisi Beach, Chania
This is one of Crete’s most exotic beaches. It is known for its calm turquoise waters and fascinating shades of pink sand made out of millions of tiny crushed shells. This beach paradise is located on the southernmost point of the Cretan mainland and is often ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Getting there will take a couple of hours if you are driving from Rethymnon, but isn’t it worth leaving footprints on one of the world’s few pink sand beaches?
The beach is a natural reserve with only a few kantinas (snack bars) serving beverages and snacks during the day. No one is allowed on the beach at night.
Parking is free, and only a small section of the beach has sunbeds and umbrellas available to rent for the day. The beach gets very crowded, especially during July and August. To get to the lagoon visitors must cross a narrow strip of water. Be prepared to carry your belongings held up high. Also remember to bring sun hats, water and sunscreen.
Falassarna Beach, Chania
One of the most famous Cretan beaches has also made the list of one of the top ten beaches in Europe. Situated 59 kilometres west of Chania and 17 kilometres, west of Kissamos, this family-friendly beach is known for its facilities, snack bars and water sports activities.
A perfect white stretch of sand meets exotic green waters. It’s also a popular spot for fabulous sunsets which can be enjoyed while sipping a cocktail at one of the beach bars. During the summer, beach parties take place here.
At the northern end of the beach, you can explore the ancient Roman city of Falassarna, which was once a prominent trading centre and a direct maritime link to the city of Alexandria, Egypt. British travelers discovered the archaeological site during the late 19th century.
Matala Beach, Heraklion
This 300-meter-long beach is one of the 400 Blue Flag beaches of Crete, and it has been awarded for the cleanliness of the waters and excellent beach facilities. It is famous for its carved caves where hippies found their refuge in the 1970s.
The caves of Matala are an impressive sight to see because they were used as graves during the Roman and the Christian Era.
Tamarisk trees offer shade over parts of Matala’s fine gravel beach. The beach is also very well organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, snack bars and a variety of water sports activities.
Preveli Beach, Rethymnon
Preveli Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Crete where a heavenly river lagoon meets the Lybian Sea and a lush palm-forest dots this unique landscape. That’s why Named after the nearby historical monastery dedicated to St. John the Theologian, Preveli is situated 40 kilometres from Rethymnon and can either be reached by car or by boat from Plakias and Agia Galini.
There are two routes which lead to the beach, one from the Preveli Monastery and another from Drimiskiano Ammoudi. The most scenic route which opens up to stunning vistas of the palm tree forest is from the side of the Preveli Monastery. After parking your car in a parking lot, find the footpath that runs down to the beach. It will take you a pleasant 20-minute walk, but the breathtaking view is worth it. Note that getting back up maybe a challenge if you are heading here midday. The shorter and less scenic route is a dirt road which leads from Drimiskiano Ammoudi and is only about a five-minute walk.
Facilities here are minimal. Only one canteen serves beverages and snacks with a few chairs and tables. We recommend that you spend time exploring the palm tree forest. If you decide to head up further up the river, you will come across the waterfalls which run down from the Kourtaliotiko Gorge. Paddle boats are available for rent to go up and down the river.
Vai Beach, Lassithi
Why go to the Caribbean when you can go to Crete? Vai Beach, which is also known as the Finikodassos (Palm Forest), is home to Europe’s largest natural palm grove. The trees here have stood there for more than 2,000 years. Situated 94 kilometres west of Agios Nikolaos and 24 kilometres of Sitia, it spans over a gently curving golden sand beach on the eastern coast of Crete. The beach was used for the filming of Bounty Bar in the early 70s. It then became a destination for hippies. In the 80s, it became the favourite beach spot for backpackers.
You can find umbrellas and sunbeds, showers, water sports activities, canteens and a tavern here. If you are arriving by car, there is a parking area. A 10-minute walk over rocks will get you to the beach.
Crete is a beautiful destination for any beach lover. Have you been to any of the 6 Amazing Cretan Beaches mentioned above? Which one was your favourite?