Top 5 Beaches In Crete
Picking the right beach can sometimes be a tricky task. In islands like Crete, picking a beach means you’re committing to that beach for the day, since distances pretty much prohibit beach hopping. But the beaches in Crete are so far out of this world, beach hopping won’t really factor in too much, if you play it right. Crete is an insanely beautiful destination, with an abundance of sea, sun, history, nature, incredible food and heart-warming people. Add some killer beaches and presto; you’ve got yourself a paradise in Europe. And while we may use the word paradise somewhat liberally, Crete is one of the places in Greece that is end to end pick up your slack jaw off the floor, pinch me I think I’m dreaming, oh my God this is real. If you’ve ever seen the walk-in fridge commercial with the dudes reaction you’ll get a sense of what you’re signing up for.
Crete is lucky to be positioned in the middle between Africa, Middle East and Europe. The weather it gets is enviable for the rest of us northerners (lol). So, between feta binges and playing with random wild goats on the road, here’s a lowdown of the 5 best beaches in Crete.
We, here, love animals and nature. We’re always trying to feed some critter or another. And nature plays a big role in being happy. So with that in mind we bring you Vai; the biggest palm tree forest in Europe (and quite possibly the only one), with an adjoining beach. And as far as tropical paradise settings go, you can be sure that this is as good as it gets, this side of the Med. Located on the northeastern side of the island, Vai boasts an exotic feel that comes with a few added bonuses, such as ancient ruins nearby, a nude beach and the obligatory amenities. Vai beach is like being in the tropics, sans the monsoons and rickety infrastructure.
If you like Vai, you’ll probably love Preveli. The grand attraction here is the river diving down into the sea from the steep cliffs of the Kourtaliotis gorge. Its palm tree fringed river banks disgorge icy water into a lagoon, right next to the beach. Need we say more? People kayak on the river and end up in the sea, in what can only be described as a giant open air water slide attraction. Pure magic.
And then we have the real showstopper; the lagoon beach of Balos. Now, this may be one of the few times where words just don’t the picture justice. Because how else can you describe heaven on earth? We’ll give it a shot, nonetheless. In what may possibly be the best family/child friendly beach we’ve seen, Balos and its shallow waters offer an otherworldly experience. Flanked by water from both sides, the narrow stretches of sand make this an ideal playground for nippers and the young at heart. Even though the absence of shade or any sort of amenities means you’ll have to get creative, it will be worth every single second. They don’t call it the Cretan Caribbean for nothing, you know.
Next up is Elafonisi. A bit like Balos, in the sense that this is essentially a lagoon, with a small islet in the middle, its pink sand and crystalline waters are an instant magnet. Because this is a nature reserve, the crowds don’t get as hectic, so that’s a bonus. Elafonisi is fairly big, with a part that has a tavern and some other amenities, while there is a more secluded part with no parasols and loungers. Again, this needs good planning, because, while pink sand is awesome, pink skin… meh, not too much.
Finally, Matala gets the nod. This beach is a singular oddity, in that it is flanked by a geological curiosity that gets even weirder. Essentially, they are Roman burial caves that have been dug into the sandstone cliff. To make things even freakier, the hippies that descended on Crete in the 60’s made these their homes (there’s still a couple of deadheads about) and proceeded to err… tune in and drop out? The beach itself is great, with fine sand and a fair few amenities to boot.
Crete may just be the single most interesting destination in Greece. It’s big enough to satisfy all your curiosities (and Crete has tons of things to see and do, you’d need at least a couple of weeks to see everything) yet retains the small island feel and authenticity. If you’re a beach person, then look no further than Crete.