Crete island is famous for its fabulous beaches with crystal clear water and interesting sea life. Many tourists come to this largest Greek island every year to enjoy the sea, sand and fresh air on the beach. This article gives information on the best beaches in Crete. I have visited many of them, and these Cretan beaches are frequently rated among the top beaches in Europe or the world. I will list the best beach in Crete according to their location. Starting with the most Western part of the island in the prefecture of Chania and to continue to the East side of the island.
Best beaches in Crete
Crete Beaches – Chania Area
Falasarna is a very popular seaside resort on the western coast of Crete, in the department of Chania in Livadi Bay. Falasarna is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete. It is located 52 kilometers from Chania town and can be reached by car within one hour via the village of Platanos. It has a large sandy beach and all kinds of watersports facilities, sun loungers, and parasols. The water has beautiful turquoise-like colors. Near the beach are some beach bars and on the southern side is a small fishing harbor. Beach parties are regularly organized at Falasarna beach, attracting thousands of young people from the surrounding area. The sunsets in Falasarna are spectacular.
The tropical Elafonisi beach is located near a small island of the same name, which is located opposite the village of Elafonisos. The island may be small, but the beach of Elafonisi is certainly not. Elafonisi is the second largest beach in western Crete, and from June onwards it looks like a tropical paradise beach. Elafonisi can be easily reached by car; you can also take the bus from Chania and Paleochora. You walk towards the first beach of Elafonisi. This beach is surrounded by six places where beach beds and umbrellas are available for rent. There are taverns here where you can eat and drink. The water at Elafonisi is so clear that you can see the bottom almost everywhere.
Glyka Nera beach is located on the south coast of Crete. Another name for this beach is “sweet water beach” because of the freshwater sources on the beach. Not surprisingly that there are trees on this sweet water beach. Glyka Nera beach can only be reached on foot or by boat. There are hiking trails from both Chora Sfakion and Loutro. Along the way are a few steep cliffs, bays and chapel. Take enough drinking water! Small ferry services go from and to the tavern at Glyka Nera beach from Loutro or Chora Sfakion.
Balos Beach is located at the small peninsula of Imeri Gramvoúsa. It is a protected natural area, which guarantees the quality of the natural habitats of protected flora and fauna. You will find 400 different (sea) plants, nearly 100 protected or endangered bird species, wild donkeys, the green turtle and the Mediterranean sea lobe at Gramvoúsa. Balos Beach is a lagoon and is located in a bowl-shaped bay. The colors of the sea water in the shallow lagoon are exotic due to the green to azure color. Nearby is a 16th century Venetian fort on the cliffs worth visiting. This beach is one of the most beautiful in Greece.
This beautiful sandy beach is located in the southwest of Crete near Elafonisi. It is an option for peace seekers and naturists who want to avoid the crowds of the popular earlier mentioned Elafonisi. Kedrodasos can be reached by taking the exit to Sklavopoula on your left hand (just coming from the north) just before Elafonisi. Here the road becomes a wide path, and you follow more or less a straight line and keep right. The beach is indicated by yellow arrows. After passings several greenhouses, you take the second exit on the right. This road ends in a parking lot. Then you take the path down towards the coast. The walk takes about ten minutes.
Stavros beach is located on the north side of the Akrotiri peninsula east of Chania. It is a sandy beach in a round bay through which a river flows, and it is known because a part of the film “Zorba the Greek” was recorded there. One side is dominated by a high bare mountain. Next to the main beach, a bit further away, is another quieter beach. There are also the remains of an old city or old fortress carved into the rocks and an ancient Minoan cult cave that you can reach on foot.
Seitan Limania beach is a small bay near Chania on Crete. The beach is located in an S-shaped bay on the Akrotiri peninsula, not far from the international airport. From Chania city, the distance is about 22 kilometers; it is about half hour travel time with a car. The road to Seitan Limania beach is good, but getting it is not easy. The descent to the beach from the parking lot is over the rocks. No paved path and it requires some climbing. There are no facilities on Seitan Limania beach so bring enough drinking water and food with you.
Aspri Limni or White Lake is one of the weirdest beaches in Crete that few people know. The beach has fine white sand and rocks and is surrounded by sharp rocks, reminding of a small whitish lake inside the sea. Fortunately, the beach is unexploited by the tourist industry and remains an untouched paradise. There is no natural shade in the area. This small secret beach is located 500m west of Chrysoskalitissa monastery and 70km southwest of Chania city. Thousands of visitors are attracted by the nearby exotic Elafonissi lagoon, but actually, nobody has heard of this magnificent neighboring place.
Crete Beaches – Rethymno Area
Triopetra is an unknown paradise on Crete, located in the area between Agia Galini and Preveli, on the south coast of the Rethymnon department. Abandoned sandy beaches, a few tavernas, and apartments and that’s all there is. The water is wonderfully clear. There are beach beds and at the tavernas are showers. The road is narrow, but paved, with beautiful views. Triopetra can be reached by car within an hour from Rethymnon city. The name Triopetra owes the beach to the three large rocks rising out of the sea. This gives the beach a characteristic face.
Preveli, also known as Préveli, is a magnet on the south coast of Crete and famous to all visitors of the island. The area hosts two monasteries (Kato Moni and Piso Moni) and a beautiful beach with palm trees that is also called Palm Beach. The distance from Rethymnon is 38 kilometers with a journey time of about 45 minutes. The palm grove and beach of Preveli are at the end of the Kourtaliotiko gorge. The last part of the gorge is about three kilometers long, and halfway here there is a small stream flowing from Megalo Potamos into the Libyan Sea. A must visit when in Rethymnon!
Far away from mass tourism in a small quaint town, you will find Plakias on the south coast of the Rethymnon prefecture. For peace seekers a real must. The elongated sandy beach is one of the largest in the south of Crete. Because it can be very windy here, it is great for surfing too. Some of the smaller pieces of the Plakias beach are also used by naturists. The nearby village of Plakias offers lots of tourist facilities and accomodation.
Livadi is a small fishing village on the Akrotiri peninsula in the northwestern part of Crete. Chania is about 15 kilometers to the south; the airport is a little less far. Livadi has a 60-meter-long sandy beach, which is beautifully situated in a wide bay. The clear water is very shallow, and the beach is well protected from waves. It is perfect for holidays with young children. You can rent sunbeds and umbrellas on the beach. There are also changing rooms and toilets. You can park on the street nearby. Right next to the main beach is a smaller sandy beach.
You might also be interested in: Things to do in Rethymno.
Crete beaches – Heraklion Area
Matala is a unique seaside resort between rocks in the Central South of Crete, in the Heraklion department. The seaside town of Matala is one of Crete’s biggest attractions. Matala has a unique location between the chalk cliffs, where the holes in the rocks give this place its characteristic famed look. The beautiful bay of Matala is narrow and opens to the west, so visitors and residents of Matala have a breathtaking sunset from the beach. Matala was very popular in the sixties as it was a meeting point for hippies from all over Europe and it still has a hippy character to this day.
This beach takes its name from the gorge that it ends at. The Agio Farago gorge is located near Matala and terminates on one of the best beaches in Crete. From Matala, you take the direction of the monastery and walk towards the gorge. At the entrance of the gorge is a small canteen. The gorge offers beautiful views of the high rocks. Halfway through the gorge, you will also find a beautiful church with a cave. The walk ends with the magnificent view of the beach with the sea. This is a trip well worth making, and you will soon forget about the long walk.
The beaches of Malia are located in a beautiful bay and are also called the most beautiful and best beaches in Crete. There are a total of six different beaches with a total length of 4.5 kilometers. The beaches of Malia are ideal for families with children because they walk slowly and are not very deep at the front. Beach beds and umbrellas can be rented on the beaches. There are also many bars and restaurants. The largest beach of Malia is Malia Beach, this 700-meter wide beach is also called Golzanie Beach or Pleasure Beach. It is easy to reach via the main street from Malia center to the beach.
You might also: Things to do in Heraklion.
Crete Beaches – Lasithi Area
In the northeast of Crete, you will find the world famous Bounty Beach or Vai Beach. It is surrounded by a palm forest that makes you feel that you are at a tropical island instead of in Europe. This beach is very popular and can get very crowded in the high season. At the nearby parking lot, you can rent beach beds and umbrellas. Vai Beach is easy to reach by car from Agios Nikolaos, Sitia or Ierapetra.
Chrissi island is a wonderful day trip to make during your holiday on Crete. Chrissi island is located about 15 kilometers south of the city of Ierapetra in the Libyan Sea. You can make an organized day trip from Hersonissos and Malia. Another possibility is to travel by bus or a rental car to the southernmost city of Europe Ierapetra. Here you will find the passenger port for Chrissi; several boats sail daily to this island from May to October. Chrissi is the southernmost island in Europe with some of the best beaches in Crete.
Istron Bay beaches
The most famous beach in the Istron area on Crete is called Voulisma Beach or Golden Beach. It is a beautiful and large sandy beach where you can rent sunbeds. Voulisma Beach is popular, and here it can be busy in high season. The area is quiet and green, with olive groves, vineyards, orange and lemon trees. The main road runs through the village of Kalo Chorio. Istron has a good and regular bus connection with Agios Nikolaos and with the city of Ierapetra in the south of Crete.
Xerokambos is located in the southeast of Crete in a fairly remote area. The long sandy beaches are absolutely beautiful, the turquoise colors of the sea water are breathtaking. There are a few taverns on Xerokambos beach and some rooms for rent. Those who love peace and nature will experience a wonderful vacation here. The road to Xerokambos goes through the mountains and offers a beautiful view too. If you decide to visit Xerokambos, it is advisable to rent a car. You can then make trips to Kato Zakros and the monastery of Toplou and other beaches such as Vai.
The last beach in this list of best beaches in Crete is on Koufonissi island. Koufonissi or Koufonision is a small low and flat island facing the coast of Crete in the southeast. The island is located opposite the village of Goudouras and boat trips to this island are organized from Makrigialos until the end of September. Koufonissi is an island that is covered with a thick layer of sand, just like the Chrissi island. There are 36 beaches, and all are remarkably clean. Around Koufonissi there are four smaller islands such as Strogylli and Trachilos. Three of them are very small. Trachilos is the largest of these four and here is the sea cave that is visited by the boat.
Sandy or pebbled, secluded or organized, the best beaches in Crete offer something for everyone. They charm visitors with their authentic beauty and their clear waters. Almost every year Greece is ranked by the Blue Flag Programme among the top three countries in the world with the best quality beaches and coasts. Many of the ones mentioned in this article belong to these. I hope you soon enjoy one of these best beaches in Crete.
Tip: If you want to enjoy the beaches of Crete, renting a car is highly recommended. Find the best deals at Holiday Autos.
Looking for a place to stay in Crete?
Have you been to Crete? Which one was your favorite beach?