One of our favorite places on Crete is the area around amazing Kommos Beach (or Komos). This beautiful, historic, and mysterious place is located about 66km southwest of Heraklion, and not far (2km north) from the world-famous Matala. Once a fabulous Minoan port and shipyard, Kommos sits at the southernmost and the most isolated part of a long stretch of beach along the Gulf of Mesara.
Once the harbor of Phaestos, the beach is right in front of the ruins of the old port of Kommos (Amyklaion in ancient times), and the archaeological site dating back to prehistory. The site holds the ruins of a Minoan harbor, public buildings, warehouses, oil presses, shipyards, a temple, and a large courtyard.
Today, the entire beachfront of Mesara is a sea and nature lover’s unflawed playground. Less popular with tourists than the beaches of the north coast, the Mesara beaches seem abandoned in the tourist season, by comparison. Stronger winds and stronger currents make these beautiful stretches of the beach a bit less family-friendly, but for sea and sun-loving purists, they are also far more beautiful and dynamic.
At the northern part of Kommos Beach, naturists find a refuge for their fantasies of a return to Eden, amid the sparse tamarisk trees and out in front of the beach bar Bunga Bunga. Since the area is protected as an archaeological treasure, Kommos will certainly remain pristine while other more popular spots are degraded with scores of visitors and hotels.
As perfect and underdeveloped as Kommos is, the beach is not totally without refinements. Next to the archaeological site, on the south, there is an organized beach with umbrellas, sunbeds, toilets, showers, a canteen, and a lifeguard. And in nearby (just up the beach) Kalamaki, there are a handful of marvelous tavernas, apartments, and stores to suit visitor needs.
From Kommos, the view out over the gulf to the wonderful Paximadia islets is stunning, especially at sunset. Just opposite the archaeological site, 300m in the sea, you will see a beautiful big rock, which the locals call Volakas. Volakas could not be absent from the Greek myths. Locals say that the stone is the top of the boulder that the blinded Cyclope Polyphemus threw against the ship of Odysseus in order not to escape. This was after Odysseus, with his companions, escaped from Polyphemus’ cave.
Editor’s note: Adapted from the destination profile by our friends at Cretan Beaches, the most complete guide to attractions on Crete.