June is around the corner, and already Crete is buzzing with eager tourists set to lap up paradise. Here, we take the opportunity to hop around the island via the shares of Instagram users already enjoying what Greece’s biggest island has to offer. We hope you learn a bit about some of the places too.
Agios Pavlos Beach (Saint Paul) is a stunning stretch of perfect sand along Crete’s southern shore. Not too many tourists ever get to enjoy this beach because it’s a bit of an unsung sunlover’s paradise. The beach is just outside the village of the same name, about 58km south of Rethymno, and a bit west of more famous Agia Galini. The beach sits just off the tip of Cape Melissa. The sea here is deep, with brillient green waters and magnificent rocky seabed. There’s also rooms to let and some wonderful tavernas nearby. Expect some basic services like umbrellas and subbeds, plus some watersports rentals. Here, Insta user ola.boahey soaks up some rays and a soda pop.
If Crete is anything, it’s a stunning photo-op. The amazing share above from Annemie Hiele is at the traditional village of Kefalas, one of the island’s most beautiful. Located on the high slopes of the Drapanos Peninsula, the village is just a short drive from touristy Georgioupolis, this scenic little town has a wonderful center with quaint tavernas, kafenions, and local shopping marts. The village has eight churches, some quite historic and beautiful, and the nature surrounding is magnificent. You’ll also want to visit Drapanos and Vamos villages, while you are at it.
No visit to Crete can be complete without experiencing the island’s wondrous nature. Places like world famous Samaria Gorge are the real treasures of the place the ancients once called Keftiu. As you can see in the share by Martyna above, Crete is a hiker and nature lover’s Eden. Samaria Gorge is in the remote part of the White Mountains of West Crete, a 7-hour hike into another world that culminates on a brilliant Libyan Sea. This 18km gorge is truly a transprotive experience. For more information you may want to check here, or our friends at Cretan Beaches.
Red Beach. Few have ever heard of it, but the knowing locals can tell you it’s seaside Nirvana. Located just to the “left” of world famous Matala on Crete’s Mesara Gulf, the remote beach is accessible by boat or a hike from the Matala village. I recommend taking the trek across Kastri hill, and through the shepherd’s fence. Expect spellbinding sunsets, perfect orange sand, and… Well, you can tell from the Instagram share by Thomas Beer above – magic.
If it’s a magic journey you seek, take a trip along Crete’s north highway eastward, staying ever northerly, until you reach Itanos. I count at least five different worlds in between Crete’s capital in Heraklion, and this easternmost place where Minoans traded with the world 5,000 years ago. There’s too much to take in, just to be honest. As you can see from the share above, it looks like Vanja Venuti is already having the time of her life. Anyway, just drive slow, take a whole day, sleep on the beach or in a quaint bungalow in Palaekastor. You will never want to leave. Trust me. Itanos is located 96km east of Agios Nikolaos and 26km east of Sitia, just north of the famous palm forest of Vai. Find out more here.
People often ask me for my opinion of the “best beach” in Crete. It’s a tough one, to be honest. There are too many unbelievable secluded ones, impossible to reach ones, idyllic suntanning and swimming spots, dramatic seascapes, etc. But, if I had to send people to just one for their Crete summer to remember, Falasarna in the far west of the island is unequalled in so many ways. Put it this way, I’d love to live in a little stone house or a cave there. As you can see from the BestPlaces Crete share above, this stunning beach just grips you. And when you go there, you’ll never forget it. Located about 59km west of Chania city and about 17km west of Kissamos, at the western base of peninsula Gramvousa, the beach has been voted one of the best in the world many times. The sand and water here, the backdrop and the feel of the place, is nothing short of amazing. Seriously, every time I write about the place, and recall being there, I want to pack and move. Yep, it’s the best beach in Greece, maybe the world if you don’t count Ipanema in Bazil (greatest for different reasons).
I love this one from user Norbert, who is at another favorite spot of ours, Agia Pelagia. Here you get a bit of the experience of those who go to this picturesque former fishing village when they venture out onto the cliffs. Agia Pelagia, which is a bit too commercialized owing to its amazing beauty, is just west of Heraklion on a majestic bay of the same name. The beach and the water here are amazing. It’s one of the best places to swim on the island. And our favorite hangout, Almyra Seaside Food & Cocktails, is right out of a Bond flick. Tell Manos “Phil, the crazy American sent you,” and see what happens. Oh, and the treacherous spot Norbert is walking here, it’s where the ancient city of Apollonia fell into the sea after an earthquake. Yeah. There are a billion pottery shards all around. Just follow the signs from Heraklion on the main highway west for another Crete summer spot to remember.