Beaches

Below you will find the 10 best beaches in Crete as voted from visitors 

1) Elafonisi
elafonisi creteElafonisi is located 76km west of Chania and 5km south of Chrysoskalitisa Monastery, in the southwestern most point of Crete. Elafonisi is an oblong, which often "breaks" in two parts by water giving the impression of being a separate island. Elafonisi is a Natura 2000 protected area. The island is full of dunes with sand lilies and cedars trees. The endangered turtles Careta Careta and several rare animals nest on the island and it is strictly forbidden to remove any plants, animals and sand from the area.
Exotic beaches with white sand and turquoise waters, reminding of the Caribbean, are formed on either sides of the peninsula. The sand is pinkish in many places, taking its color from thousands of broken shells. Near the “breaking” point of the peninsula, the water does not exceed 1m, creating a small lagoon, ideal for children. You can easily cross the lagoon in order to reach the “island”, having your staff with you, because the water is very shallow there.

You can come by car hire Crete The road to Elafonisi is narrow and full of turns, but the beauty of the landscape is stunning.


2) Balos
balos crete
The famous lagoon of Balos is located approximately 56km northwest of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos, formed between the Cape Gramvousa and the small Cape Tigani. Balos is surely the mostly photographed beach in Crete, a very favorite subject of all tourist guides for Greece
Balos is famous for its turquoise waters, the wild natural beauty and the beautiful exotic scenery. During the summer, Balos is visited by thousands of people, who arrive mostly by car rental Crete.
The lagoon of Balos has white sand and exotic white, vivid blue and turquoise waters. The sea is very shallow and warm, ideal for young children. In many places the sand has a lovely pinkish color, because of millions of crushed shells. Beyond the rocks at the boundaries of the lagoon, the water is deeper and colder, ideal for a snorkeling. The lagoon and the wider area, with rare species of flora and fauna, are protected under the Natura 2000 program. Eleonora falcons, shags and cormorants nest in the caves of the area. Moreover, the area is a shelter for the protected monk seal and the sea turtle caretta caretta. 

3) Kedrodasos
kedrodasos creteKedrodasos (i.e. cedar forest) is an amazing beach, located 76km southwest of Chania and 1km east of the famous Elafonissi lagoon. The beach is filled cedars and sand dunes, reminding of tropical Lebanese beaches. Visiting the beach with rent a car Crete, you should note that the trees are very fragile and need respect.
The cedar grove covers a big area of about 110 acres and is a magnificent place. It is a wonderful choice for camping and a favorite beach for naturists. It is a very nice beach with white sand and some smooth and flat rocks in places. Fortunately, there are no facilities nearby, making this secluded beach, one of the latest untouched paradises in Europe. Moreover, since the beach is secluded, you should keep it clean and not littered.
The beach is protected to some point from the winds that usually blow in the neighboring Elafonissos.

4) Agiofarago
agiofarago crete
The beach of Agiofarago is located about 80km south of Heraklion city, at the exit of the homonym Gorge of Agiofarago. To get there rent a car Heraklion airport you must either cross the gorge, by easy hiking of about 30-50’, or catch a boat from Matala, Agia Galini, or Kali Limenes. We definitely recommend the first option, as the route within the vertical walls of the gorge is breathtaking, however we would not suggest it for families with children. On the way you will see the large caves were some hermits still live and the chapel of St. Anthony, with a well outside.
The beach at the exit of the gorge is stunning, with fine pebbles and clear blue waters, which are usually very calm. West of the beach a beautiful arch is formed, beneath which you can swim. Vertical cliffs surround the beach, on where you might see hermits praying.  If you have your sneakers with you, in the afternoon you should climb the cliffs on the east and reach the top. The view from there is fantastic. If you walk southeast you will meet a hidden saltish lake, called Vourvoulitis, surrounded by vertical cliffs. It is a sinkhole communicating with the open sea by underground passages. You can approach the lake, but it’s extremely dangerous. To see exactly where it is, check out the map. You will see a dark area southeast of the beach.

5) Falasarna
falasarna crete
The exotic beach of Falassarna is located 59km west of Chania and 17km west of Kissamos and rent a car Chania airport is the best choice to get there. It’s located in the western part of Cape Gramvousa. At the northern end of the beach are the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Falassarna.
Falassarna bay is one of the most famous beaches in Greece, which has been awarded as the best beach of Crete and one of the 10 best beaches in Europe in the past. Falasarna spans a huge area and consists actually of five consecutive beaches, with the two most central being the most favorite.
The sand in Falassarna is white, making the water color tropical. Indeed, if you're lucky and be here on a day that is not blowing from the west, rare in west Crete, you will be enchanted by the beach and its turquoise waters.
The area around Falassarna is magnificent and is a Natura protected region. If you have time and looking for something romantic, you can wait for the sunset, which is considered the best in Crete. How could this not be the best, when being in such an amazing landscape and there is no obstacle between the beach the horizon?


6) Vai
vai crete
Vai is located 94km east of Agios Nikolaos and 24km east of Sitia, on the eastern coast of Crete. It is the most famous beach in eastern Crete, as its main feature is the large palm grove with the Cretan Date Palm. Its name derives from the word vai, meaning palm in Greek. The palm grove is the largest in Europe with approximately 5000 trees, while there are smaller colonies in other parts of Crete and in the Canary Islands. According to the legend, the trees have grown from discarded date stones thrown into the sea by Saracen pirates. However, the palm grove is 2000 years old and the pirates are more recent. Thus this hypothesis has changed and the Saracens have been replaced with Phoenicians that governed the Mediterranean Sea 20 centuries ago.
The heavenly palm grove is planted in a wide valley watered by the local river for centuries. An exotic sandy beach with whitish sand is formed near the shore, backed by the edenic palm forest, reminding of African and Caribbean seascapes. The entire region is owned by the powerful Toplou Monastery, which is the largest landowner in eastern Crete. The 15th-century monastery is built like a fortress, and hosts a great collection of Byzantine icons.
The beach has whitish sand and flat turquoise waters. In a few places, there are slippery smooth rocks, while on the opposite there are small islets that beautify the landscape If you come by car hire Chania airport then you should leave it in the parking area. From Vai's car park, it's a 10-minute clamber over rocks to the beach. Vai is one of the beaches that should definitely be visited by the first comers in Crete.

7) Preveli
preveli crete
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.
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.
The basic option for accessing Preveli is to drive from Plakias with a car hire Heraklion airport to the Monastery Preveli, following the relevant signs. 1.5km after the Kato Monastery of Preveli, you will stop at a large parking lot, where a path that descends to the beach starts. The parking is located near towering vertical cliffs, west of the beach, where you can take some fantastic photographs. To reach the beach walk the footpath that takes about 15-20 minutes. However, return is tedious as the ascent is rather steep.

8) Agia Fotia
agia fotia crete
Car rental Heraklion and drive to Agia Fotia, one of the favorite beaches of all Cretans, is located 45km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 12km east of Ierapetra. It is a small bay formed at the mouth of a small stream that descends from the surrounding mountains. The settlement takes its name after the local Church of Agia Fotini (or Agia Fotia). The area is hidden in plane trees and tamarisks, while the bay is surrounded by high mountains and cliffs that create magical scenery.
The bay has a beautiful beach, which is very famous and popular to locals. The beach has coarse grayish sand and crystal clear calm waters. It's a little organized and there are few taverns and hotels around. Next to the beach, there is a good beach bar offering very nice cocktails and drinks. You can find shade under the tamarisk trees of the beach. In recent years, beach volley tournaments are being organized every year at the local court. Finally, do not forget to walk up to the eastern end of the beach, where there is a spring on the rocks with potable fresh water, just next to the shore.


9) Matala
matala crete
Matala is located 68km southwest of Heraklion, on the boundaries of the plain Messara and Asteroussia Mountains. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Crete and certainly the most famous beach of Heraklion. It is famous for the carved caves in the rocks and the hippies of the ‘70s. It is located close to Phaestus, the second largest palace of the Minoan civilization. Matala was the port of Phaestus, and on the Roman Times, it became a port of Gortys.
Matala is located at the exit of a small valley, which forms a large enclosed bay with nice view to the islands of Paximadia.The bay is a beautiful long sandy beach, 300m long, with fine gravel and crystal clear deep water. Moreover, the seabed is quite rocky in some places and the waves, due to frequent westerly winds, are very large and amazing. Furthermore, there is a huge cave on the north part of the beach, from the top of which some "crazy" people splash in the water. The beach is very well organized with umbrellas, toilets, showers, lifeguard, first aids, beach volley courts, snack bars, water sports, excursion boats, car hire Heraklion etc. Around Matala you will find many options for accommodation, entertainment and eating. Also, a large part of the beach is covered by tamarisk trees, where you can find shade. In the evenings, the bars on the beach are full with many people, both locals and foreigners.

10) Stefanou Beach 
seitan limania crete
Stefanou beach is located near the position of Seitan Limania (i.e. satan harbours), 22km northeast of Chania and 2km east of the village Chordaki, at the east side of Akrotiri Cape. The wider area is named Seitan Limania, after the wild landscape, the steep cliffs and the strong sea streams which are very dangerous. Here are situated three parallel narrow coves, well protected from the waves.
In the middle of this wild landscape, it is not expected to see something tranquil. However, in the northern cove a tiny fantastic beach is shaped, with deep azure waters, namely the beach of Stefanou. The beach has fine pebbles and sand, transferred there from the nearby quarry through the canyon Diplohahalo. On the right and the left sides of the cove, huge marble rocks are standing high to protect the beach from the bad weather. It is quite unknown to most people, even the residents of Chania. This paradise is mostly known to the lucky residents of Chordaki village, who struggle to keep it safe, beautiful and clean. Therefore, please respect this place and keep it clean.

If you do not have car hire Chania, access to the beach is not that easy, as there is a narrow steep path leading to the beach. It takes 15-20' to reach the beach from the nearest parking plateau (accessed by asphalt road). In the path, you will see a door, used by the shepherds so please keep it closed.