The 8 Best Beaches in Crete

Rich with unique cultural traits like native poetry and music, the Crete Island is the biggest and most populous island amongst the islands in Greece. Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is also the 88th largest island in the world.

This island with a coastline of 650 miles is the beach lover’s dream come true. The coastline of the island stretches to provide lots of beautiful beaches. With its exotic nature and wealth of cultural appeal, tourists flock to Crete often during summer to enjoy the beaches and experience life on the island.

With hundreds of beaches, the island is known for its gorgeous beaches. For a tourist, the abundance of fantastic beaches can be overwhelming as he or she might not know which ones to visit since they would have a lot of options to pick from. This might seem like a no-brainer because an abundance of gorgeous beaches means tourists can just visit any beach.

However, why visit just any beach when it is possible to visit either one or all of the very best beaches in Crete? Here is a list of the 8 best beaches in Crete.



1. Elafonisi in Chania Beach

Elafonisi in Chania beach

Elafonisi (or Elafonissos) which means Island of Deer is an amazing little islet located 82km northwest of Chania town in Crete. This heavenly islet has a gorgeous beach which has bright waters and pinkish coral sand. It is a popular place which gets crowded by lovers of nature, beaches and really bright suns during summer.

Elafonisi can be reached by taking a car from Vathi up to a point and crossing the shallow reef which connects it to the rest of Crete or by taking a boat from Paleohora.

The beach on Elafonisi is partly arranged with sunbeds and umbrellas making the place perfect for sunbathing and getting the summer body tan. The Elafonisi beach also provides ample opportunity for windsurfing.

Located on a cliff directly above the beach is the Monastery of Chrissoskalitissa. This historical white monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Chrissoskalitissa, the name of the monastery means golden steps. According to legendary tales, one of the 90 steps which lead up to the monastery is made of gold.

However, it is also said that only the pure in heart can see this golden step. For everyone else, there is no golden step. Visiting Elafonisi Beach offers one the opportunity to go sightseeing in the monastery.


2. Falassarna in Chania Beach

This beach located 54km west of Chania town and near the village of Platanos is one of Crete’s best beaches. It is on the list of the best beaches in Crete for many reasons. One such reason is the magical natural beauty it possesses. With its soft golden sand and clean turquoise-colored waters, it is an ideal beach to visit either alone, with a group of friends or with family. It is particularly family friendly because of the soft sand which is safe for kids and the organized facilities present.

For those interested in basking in the golden sun, there are a few umbrellas and sunbeds. The beach and its waters are very clean. One can swim in the waters on less windy days.

The ancient archaeological site of Falassarna located nearby is perfect for exploration and sightseeing. One more thing that makes this beach amazing is the beautiful view of the sunset one can get on this beach.


3. Balos Beach in Chania

Balos Beach in Chania

This beach located 60km north west of Chania town has been declared one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete and one of the best beaches in the entirety of Greece. Balos beach is a gorgeous beach with white soft sand, unique crystalline water and a soft seabed. The beach looks like a lagoon when viewed from the hills which surround it.

This beach can be accessed by following a 10km track road from Kaliviani which is a village in Kissamos. It can also be accessed through water by boarding a boat from Kissamos. Beyond enjoying the beauty of the beach on the beach, one can go to the top of Gramvoussa, a rocky Island opposite to Balos beach.

At the top, there is a Venetian castle. A breath-taking view of the area, the sea and Balos beach can be seen from the Venetian castle.

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4. Matala Beach in Heraklion

This former fishing village which is now a tourism stronghold in Crete is one of Greece’s most famous beaches. Matala beach which spans more than 300 meters is located 67km south west of Heraklion town. The beach has become famous for certain reasons. One of the reasons is because the beach used to be a hippie zone.

In the 1960s and 1970s, lots of hippies would go to Matala to spend several days in the formidable cliffs with the curved caves found on the right side of the beach. These caves were dug into the rocks when the beach was populated during antiquity by locals. The prehistoric caves have now been separated from the rest of the beach by a fence.

Long after the hippie era, Matala is now famous again because it is a nicely convenient place to visit with the accommodation that the seaside village provides, the historical excursion possibilities and the well-organized sandy beach. It is a beach for everyone, whether single individuals, couples, group of friends or entire families.


5. Vai Beach in Lassithi

Vai beach in Lassithi

The fantastic Vai beach surrounded by 5,000 date palm trees stretching over an expanse of 250 square kilometers which make up the largest date palm tree forest in Europe is located in the region of Lassithi on the north-eastern side of Crete, 25km east of Sitia and 94km east of Agios Nikolaos town.

Palm Forest is the beach’s other name due to the forest of 5,000 date palm trees around it which is believed to have been brought into existence by ancient Phoenician merchants who carelessly discarded the seeds of the date fruits they ate.

Beyond the date palm forest stretches kilometers of soft golden sand bordered by a sea with clean crystal waters. This beach has its main entrance open at all times. Free Camping is now prohibited on this beach. This is to prevent forest fires. To stave off hunger, snacks and coffee are sold on the beach. The magical allure of Vai beach with its tropical forest and stunning azure waters draws many to this beach.

Related article: The 15 Best Beaches in Malta


6. Tymbaki beach in Heraklion

Tymbaki, also known as Kokkinos Pyrgos is a beach located 70km south west of Heraklion. This beach lies between Matala and Agia Galini, two of southern Crete’s famous tourist attractions. This small, clean beach with a mixture of sandy and pebbled portions is located within close proximity to Tymbaki village.

With its small harbor for boats to moor and location between two of the most famous tourist sites in the south of Crete, it is a convenient place for one to embark on excursions within the southern region.

There is a lot of fun to have on this beach. The organized part of the beach features sunbeds and umbrellas which are perfect for sunbathing and seaside pubs in which one can get a taste of delicious local dishes.

The strong winds on the beach which create big waves make Tymbaki ideal for surfing and other water sports. Nearby accommodation options abound for those who would like to spend some time in the region.


7. Preveli Beach in Rethymno

Preveli beach in Rethymno

Preveli beach is located 40km south of the main town of Rethymno. This beach of intense natural beauty is a place where a river flows into the sea after meandering through lots of palm trees and forming a lake close to the sea.

A delta is created where the Kourtaliotis water ends at the beach. Preveli is a haven of palm trees, fine sand and beautiful greenish waters. These waters offer water sports opportunities as well as wonderful places to swim.

This beach can be reached by boarding fishing boats from Plakias or Agia Galini. It can also be reached on foot from a parking lot close to the Preveli Monastery. The combination of dazzling palm trees, lush vegetation surrounding the beach and the greenish waters makes Preveli an exotically beautiful beach which attracts lots of people in summertime.

Related article: The 12 Best Beaches in Maui


8. Rodakino Beach in Rethymno

Lying 43km south of Rethymno town, close to Plakias, a tourist village, Rodakino is a sandy beach with partly organized and partly secluded areas. The beach is ideal for relaxation with its soft sand, crystal waters, sunbeds and umbrellas.

There are seaside pubs and apartments for short term and long term rent within close proximity to the beach. This availability of opportunities for comfortable relaxation is great for individuals, groups or families seeking calm serene environments to relax in.

Many seaside adventures abound on the beaches of Crete. Visitors to Crete should make the best of these adventures, have lots of fun and stay safe while at it.

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