Soft, golden, sandy beaches are found in the crystal waters of Crete. Photo by Evangelos Mpikakis via Unsplash
The Greek Island of Crete is home to some of the country’s most breath-taking beaches. Once you visit, you will instantly be captivated by the clear, mesmerizing, tranquil waters of the Mediterranean Sea surrounding the beautiful island.
Elafonissi beach is a blockbuster location you’ve probably already heard or seen photos of. Its unique, pink-tinged sands resulting from broken down seashells and shallow lagoon-like waters are what define it. The slight hint of pink contrasts stunningly with the turquoise color of the sea. Located a few hours’ drive from the city of Chania, Elafonissi’s sand differentiates from other beaches in the Mediterranean which are typically filled with pebbles. If you’re a fan of kiteboarding or windsurfing, this is the place to be as the steady winds are made for ultimate conditions to tear across the shallow water. For those interested in mastering the sport, a kite school provides lessons to fulfill this need.
2. Balos beach is a location you’ve most likely seen in postcards. The range of greens and blues as you stare deep within the sea are incomparable. Known as a wild beach, Balos is best reached by boat from Kissamos port.
Like Elafonissi, the shallow lagoons and serene waters are connected to an offshore island. Plenty of celebrities have visited from around the world with their private yachts, including the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles. The beautiful, white sand and immensely clear waters offer visitors an glimpse into paradise.
3. Located on Mirabello Bay, Voulisma beach is just a short drive from Agios Nikolaos. The long stretches of sand with soaring cliffs makes it one of the most spectacular beaches of the bay, if not the entire north coast. If you’re swimming skills are rather amateur, this is the perfect destination for you as the water is both warm and shallow.
With no tavernas or shops lining the shore, all your eyes have to admire is the sun, sand, and sea, even though there is a restaurant above the beach which provides service to its visitors. Water sports are available in one specific area, including Jet Ski rentals and enormous inflatables.
4. Vai beach, also known as Palm beach, is alleged to have over 5,000 trees surrounding the area. Having one of Europe’s biggest palm groves, Vai was discovered in the 1970s through a Bounty chocolate television advertisement. Yes, you heard that right, the commercial was shot there.
Inside the forest you’ll discover a tiny lake and isle. The beach is completely undeveloped, the only exceptions are the sunbeds and umbrellas scattered along the sand.
5. Matala is considered one of the most popular tourist beaches on the south coast of Crete. Facing the Libyan Sea, Matala’s beach is famous for its caves at one end of the shore, when hippies of the 60s resides there, including singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell.
These days you won’t find hippies in the caves as they’re now protected, and anyone who wants to enter must pay a small fee. As a family-friendly beach resort, Matala offers exceptional snorkeling, tamarisk trees, secluded waters, and a bristly golden beach. With a heavenly setting, the best time of day for a tourist to capture this majestic view is during sunset.
6. Set in a broad cove with a sheer rock wall at one end, Souda beach is located just 2.5 kilometers west from Plakias. With a mix of gravel and sand, the beach is sheltered from the wind. Free sunbeds and umbrellas can be used if you visit one of the two restaurants at the western end.
This relatively quiet beach can be a local hotspot for scuba diving and snorkeling as the waters are generally calm. If morning swimming sounds ideal to you, then be sure to take a walk along the coastal road of Souda, which will lead you to a secret pebble beach called Fotinari.
7. For a different but incredible experience, Glyka Nera beach is famous for the cold freshwater that oozes between the pebbles and into the sea. Compared to other beaches, the water here feels much colder, however the setting is stunning, as massive cliffs rise behind the back of the beach.
Its name reflects exactly that, ‘sweet water’, which refers to the refreshing water that bubbles up from the springs underneath. Despite its isolated character, there is one small taverna, providing customers with food and drink.
From dramatic cliff beaches to vast stretches of sand and remarkable coves, there’s a beach here for everyone.
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