With hundreds of miles of dramatic coastline, Crete features some of the best blue flag beaches in Europe. Most beaches are sandy, soft and powdery. Some are action-packed with water sports, and others are blissfully serene and peaceful.
There are two distinct types of beaches on Crete: the highly developed strands on the north coast and the rugged getaway beaches on the south coast. Northern beaches stretch along the flat, sandy coastal plain between the island's major towns. Beaches on the south coast are tucked into coves and bays, often at the end of small country roads.
1. Agios Pavlos 6. Matala
2. Balos 7. Plakias
3. Elafonisi 8. Rethymno
4. Falasarna 9. Vai
5. Kedrodasos 10. Zakros
1. AGIOS PAVLOS
One of the best kept secrets in the Rethymno area is the breathtaking Agios Pavlos Sandhills beach which is considered among the best in Crete. The sandy beach goes up the hills. Few coves and secluded bays make the beach unique and very private. The sea is crystal clear and quite shallow.
The lagoon of Balos is as pretty as they come. Powdery pink and white sand and shallow turquoise waters are all around. Beyond the lagoon the water is deeper, ideal for snorkeling. The area features many rare species: the monk seal and the sea turtle caretta caretta protected under the Natura 2000.
The exotic beach of Elafonissi is situated on the southwest coast of Crete. The colour of its sand is white, with a touch of pink from thousands seashells. The turquoise shallow waters of the lagoon are warm and welcoming, absolutely fabulous for snorkelling. The region is part of Natura 2000 protected area.
Falasarna beach is located on the north west coast of Crete. With its soft golden sands and crystal sparkling waters, it has been voted one best beaches in Europe. The sunset at the beach is outstanding. Nearby lies the ancient Roman city of Falassarna.
One of the best beaches on the west coast, Kedrodasos has a tropical feel, unique with its cedar forest. Quite untouched and unexplored, it is a favourite for naturists because of its hidden, secluded and quiet location. There are no facilities nearby, the beach is very private and peaceful.
Beautiful and quite long sandy beach on the south coast of Crete. Matala is identified with the man-made caves carved out of the rock thousands of years ago in the steep cliffs that rise above the north side of the bay and beach. Matala beach is also popular as being a hippy spot in the 70s.
The beach is part of the popular tourist resort Plakias on the south coast of Crete. Sandy, surrounded by cliffs with caves, the beach is beautiful and very popular. Along the beach there are many tavernas and bars, quite busy in the summer.
The central sandy beach of Rethymno is one of the longest in Crete. Very popular and over-crowded during summer months, it comes with all the necessary facilities: umbrellas, sun beds, sport activities and lifeguards. Plenty of hotels, restaurants, bars and tourist shops line up the promenade by the beach.
Vai is also known as Finikodassos. Gently curving golden sandy beach located on the east coast. Vai is backed by Europe's largest natural palm grove – some 500 densely clustered trees in an oasis fed by a stream – which have stood there for over 2000 years.
Peace and tranquility are the main features of this beach. It is located on the east coast of Crete near the small village of Zakros. There are no facilities on the beach and the access is quite a challenge. Not over visited but charming, Zakros is all about the real Crete at its best.
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