The crystal clear waters of Elafonisi Beach, also known as Ελαφόνησος. This perfect beach and islet are at the far southwest coast of Crete. The clear, turquoise waters have beckoned travellers for centuries, but thankfully this area has a restricted development order in place. This natural, near pristine beach, with its pure white sandbars and natural islet, remains virtually untouched. It is listed in the top ten beaches in the world. In some light, the sand takes on a pink glow, said to be from corals. Elafonisi is protected by an EU environmental program. This is a perfect day trip, cruising with your car about 1 ½ hours through the mountains or passing by the coast road passing the beautiful monastery of Chrisoskalitissis. Cool down in the turquoise waters, take a kite surf lesson at the local surf shop, enjoy the sunset and enjoy the most western point of Crete.
Balos lagoon is one of Crete’s most famous beaches with its turquoise waters and expansive views, it ranks in the top beaches of Europe and the world. It’s located 56km of the city of Chania and northwest of Kissamos. The lagoon lies between the Cape Gramvousa and Cape Tigani. Standing above the beach on the hills, the views are spectacular and wild. Balos lagoon has white sand and crystal clear waters and the sea is very shallow, making it the perfect spot for families and young children to cool off in the hot summer sun. In some places, the sand is a light pink colour, making it a photographers heaven! Beyond the sheltered lagoon, the water is much deeper, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling. The area is protected under the Natura 2000 program so an array of underwater wildlife can be found – if you are lucky you may even spot a loggerhead sea turtle. Due to its unique beauty, thousands of tourists visit Balos lagoon in the peak summer months and arrive mostly by ferry. If you don’t like crowds, its best to avoid the area in July and August, or arrive early in the morning before the boats arrive and enjoy the peace and quiet of this special place.
The sandy and large beach of Falassarna is one of the few beaches in Crete facing West and you can see perfect sunsets from here. Falassarna actually consists of 5 beaches located at the western base of Gramvousa peninsula. However the 2 central ones are the most populated. Due to the size of the beach (3km in total), it is never too crowded and there is something for everyone here. In the past, it has been voted in the top 10 beaches in Europe. The most famous part of the beach is Pachia Ammos (Course Sand) which has a length of 1km and here you will find several snack bars, cafes and sunbeds with umbrellas. There are also places to hire surf boards and other water sports equipment. The beach also has its own volley ball courts if you felt energetic to play a game! If you would prefer a more secluded feel, you can visit the beaches located away from the main beach which are 800m in length. Here the beaches have more sand dunes and rocks to hide away from the westerly winds or for those seeking isolation from the summer crowds. A bit further on, you reach the picturesque church of Agia Paraskevi with a beautiful beach 400m in length. A natural, shallow bay is located here, perfect for families with small children. The north end of the beach lies next to the ancient city of Falassarna with the ancient throne of Poseidon and the entrance to a part of the European hiking trail E4 towards Balos/Gramvousa. Due to its westerly position, Falassarna can by quite windy and the waters are often wavy. This is great for those looking for some fun activities such as surfing or windsurfing. If you don’t have a car, the beaches can be accessed from the city of Chania or Kissamos via a bus service.
Preveli is located about 35km south of Rethymno and 10km east of Plakias. Beach of Preveli, also known as Lake Preveli or Phoenix, is located at the exit of the imposing Kourtaliotikos Gorge, where the Great River (Megas Potamos) is flowing. It is certainly the most famous beach in southern Crete, accepting thousands of visitors every summer. During the 60s and 70s, it was a favorite destination for hippies. On the banks of the Grand River there is a large colony of Theophrastus palm trees, which give the region a sense of an African landscape. The river, forming a large lake, 1.5km long, before emptying into the sea, has water all year round. You can walk along the river, under the shade of palm trees and other trees, and start ascending in the beautiful canyon. You can swim in the cold ponds formed in the gorge. A big fire in 2010 burnt almost everything of this paradise, but luckily the palmgrove recovered most of its damage. At the exit of the river, a sandy beach with pebbles and sand is formed, with sea water being very cool due to the river. In the eastern part of the beach, there is a beautiful rock reminding of a mast. It is poorly organized because the area is protected, without any umbrellas, but with a few restaurants and snack bars nearby. Moreover, you could rent pedal boats for a ride in the river.
Seitan Limania is a well-hidden corner of the northeast side of the Akrotiri peninsula. Located 22km northeast of the city of Chania and only a short drive from the airport, there you will find a beach that differs from many other beaches. Nature created three inlets between the steep cliffs of the peninsula. In one of them is located the well-hidden beach – Stefanou Beach. It is a small cove with turquoise blue waters and fine pebbles and sand. The beach is sheltered from the wind due huge marble rocks located on either side of the cove. Access to the Seitan has recently been improved with an asphalt road leading to a parking area at the top. The beach is then accessed via a steep, narrow path. There are no amenities here, so make sure you bring water and snacks to enjoy. Due to its outstanding beauty, this beach can become crowded in the summer so make sure you arrive early to take full advantage of it!