One of the best parts of visiting a large island like Crete is the variety it offers. Whether you are looking for an adventure in the sea or an excursion on land, Crete will not disappoint. The lists below offer just a glimpse of the many options offered by this diverse island which will help make your Mediterranean traveling experience truly memorable.
Activities & Adventures: Water
Breaking the Waves
Windsurfing and Kitesurfing are the Two Most Popular Wave Sports in Crete
Kouremenos bay, next to Paleokastro, is definitely the king of windsurfing resorts in Crete and one of the most famous spots in Greece. Here, lovers of surfing and kite-surfing will find all they need: strong winds and equipment to rent. On the northern part of the island, at the base of Cape Sidero, you will find the most talented athletes of the sport at the secluded beach of Tenta. Other windsurfing locations in Crete include Agia Marina, Elafonisi, Falasarna, Kedrodasos and Stavros in Chania, Amoudara and Hersonissos in Heraklion, Plakias in Rethymno and also beaches around Ierapetra and Elounda in Agios Nikolaos – which will give you unforgettable experiences.
Tip: One of the most important sites for wave sailing in Greece is the rocky bay Papadiokambos, also known as Faneromeni, a few miles west of Sitia.
The Island of Crete, Fifth in Size in the Mediterranean, is Situated between the Ionian, the Aegean and the Libyan Sea
By the time the abundant waters of the Atlantic reach the Mediterannean, much of their components have evaporated. As a result, the sea water in Crete is low in nutrients and has a high salinity. This means that the number of fish are fewer, but the biodiversity is not affected. The waters are extremely clear. In fact, they are clearer than the waters in the world’s most famous diving destinations.
Crete retains its rugged terrain below sea surface, forming imposing abysses, caves and reefs. Below the sea level there are gorges, rocks, vertical walls, plains, caves and shipwrecks hidden under the quiet surface. Numerous shipwrecks and airplane wrecks are scattered around Crete, a reminder of the island’s history. However, apart from these sunken cities, the ordinary swimmer can easily discover the beauty of the seabed and the rich marine life on most of the beaches of Crete.
The morphology and the relatively small surface of the Mediterranean render the tides and the consequent strong currents virtually absent, offering the divers ideal conditions for pleasant diving experiences. Furthermore, the temperature of the water is high during the summer and winter, with an average temperature of around 20°C.
Guests of Crete have the opportunity to escape to the magical underwater world by choosing among a large number of diving clubs that operate throughout Crete (mainly in the northern part of the island), ready to serve divers of all levels safely and responsibly. Besides diving, visitors can explore the coasts of the island through snorkeling or participating in fishing trips or going on bottom-glass boat excursions.
Enjoy the beautiful underwater world of Crete and explore the numerous diving sites.
Below are some sites where diving is permitted:
Chania: Souda Bay and the rocky coastline from Kalyves to Georgioupolis are home to spectacular diving sites with many caves and rocky abysses. Among them stands out the underwater cave of Elephants, which took its name after the petrified bones of elephants that are still located at the bottom of the cave. Other famous diving sites are the shores around Cape Spatha and the Peninsula Gramvousa.
Rethymnon: Almost all diving schools offer diving excursions to Skinaria beach by Plakias. Indeed, the seabed at Skinaria is one of the most impressive on the island, with thriving sea life and horizontal visibility exceeding 40 meters. Additionally, the rocky coast between Skaleta and Geropotamos in northern Rethymnon is full of caves and is ideal for underwater exploration.
Heraklion: In Heraklion, the areas preferred by the diving schools are located in the area of Ahlada, west of Heraklion. Diving centers are based on the beaches of Ligaria and Mononaftis. Several diving schools also operate in Hersonissos and Malia, usually offering diving excursions to the island of Dia.
Lasithi: The diving spots of Lasithi include the town of Agios Nikolaos, the island of Agioi Pantes and Voulisma beach. At the wild shores of Cape Sidero, visitors can admire possibly the richest seabed of Crete, while trips are organized to Dionysades islets from Sitia. Around Ierapetra, scuba diving schools frequently visit the rock of Agia Fotia. The ancient submerged settlements of Koufonisi, Itanos and Elounda are also very interesting places to explore while snorkeling.
Conquering Deep Blue
The Options for Exploring the Coasts of the Island are Endless
There are daily boat services to many of the most famous remote beaches of the island including Balos, Preveli and Agia Roumeli. Visitors can also take trips to the islands of Chrissi, Gavdos, Dia and Koufonisi. Those looking for more options or seclusion could rent a motor or sailing vessel from the marinas of Lasithi, Heraklion, Rethymnon or Chania and from almost all smaller harbors of the island. Indeed, many people combine their vacation in Crete with a trip to the magical island of Santorini.
In recent years, the number of visitors who prefer to explore the rugged coastline and the beautiful beaches with a canoe or kayak has increased. Several companies rent equipment or provide lessons for kayaking. Moreover, at most organized beaches, many companies offer various water sport options such as water skiing, pedaling, aqua-boarding, jet skiing and parasailing. Lastly, all well-organized beaches have beach volleyball and soccer courts.
Activities & Adventures: Land
Agrotourism units and specialized tourist agencies offer seminars for gathering herbs, snails, mushrooms and truffles in the countryside. Similarly, they organize tours for acquainting visitors with traditional rural occupations, such as the cultivation of olives or grapes, production of honey and more.
The rugged terrain of Crete is a paradise for lovers of off-road exploration.
Driving on dirt tracks, on the edge of steep slopes with breathtaking sea views, is a unique experience. Remote and rough, the mountains of Crete max-out the adrenaline of the off-road excursion fans. Driving on a dirt road to reach a snowy summit, while overlooking the deep blue sea on the horizon, is a unique experience.
Horse riding on the mountains is another way to discover the beauty of the Cretan mountains. Horses were traditionally in use in everyday life on the island. The particular breed of local horses, fully adapted to the rough terrain of Crete, known as Georgalidika, is still quite common today so horse races and demonstrations take place throughout the year. There is a large number of riding clubs and associations as well as other organizations that offer riding lessons and excursions on horseback.
The island is home to an increasing number of companies offering four-wheel drive excursions in the most amazing places of Crete. Crossing mountains on motorbikes is also a very popular activity of local motor clubs.
Cycling, either off-road or on asphalt-paved roads, is also a wonderful way to explore the hinterland. Many companies and cycling clubs operate in this sector. The Cycling Tour of Crete is one of the most famous cycling events and attracts many visitors from all over the globe.
The Island of Icarus and Daedalusis is Ideal for Extreme Air Sports
Numerous companies in Crete offer lessons from certified instructors. For extreme athletes, there are various skydiving schools with experienced instructors. The schools operate at some airports of the island, such as Timbaki.
Moreover, all major airports of Crete house certified air-sport clubs that provide seminars and small aircrafts to rent. There are also many clubs for aircraft modelling that organize astonishing demonstrations. Furthermore, several companies and clubs organize contests.
Crete is full of steep slopes, ideal for mountain sports associated with the wind, such as paragliding or paramotoring. The area of Avdou by Hersonissos is one of the most popular paragliding spots.
In Crete you can find many schools where you can exercise and learn the secrets of this sport, as well as practice. Additionally there are many tracks for beginners or advanced users. Embrace the Cretan sky with paragliding. Encircle and soar with the large eagles of Crete. Play energetically, but hold on tight … the intensity of the air above the Cretan slopes will lift you high. No matter what the direction of the wind is, there is always a place in Crete where the wind is blowing the right way.
Canyoning & Climbing
In the rugged terrain of Crete, rivers meet large faults and steep descents during their course through the canyons, forming hundreds of small and high waterfalls.
Even locals are unaware of the existence of several waterfalls, as most are invisible and hidden throughout the impassable gorges.
Canyoning, i.e. crossing gorges with high waterfalls, is possible only by using technical equipment. Appropriate training in canyoneering techniques can be offered by specialist companies and speleological associations of the island. This sport has gained an increasing number of fans lately. Spring is the best time to get involved in it, as the water still flows inside gorges.
The most popular technical canyons of Crete include the imposing gorge of Ha and the canyon of Arvi. The areas of Tsoutsouras and Keratokambos are home to many steep canyons that have been equipped with bolts and anchors for training new canyoners.
Apart from canyoning, several clubs and certified instructors deal with climbing. Every weekend numerous athletes combine an excursion in nature with practicing their favourite sport. Some well-known climbing sites are Agiofarago, Voulismeno Aloni, Therisso, Kalathas Stavros, Plakias, Malia, Kria Vrissi, Latzimas, Kofinas, Agios Nikolaos and more.