If you’re headed to Crete Island on vacation soon, you’ll certainly want to visit some of the world’s most famous beaches including Falasarna, Elafonisi, Balos Lagoon, Vai, and the hippie enclave at Matala. But there are hundreds of other seaside treasures to be enjoyed too. Some of which, only the islanders know about. In the coming days we’ll be sharing some seaside secrets of the land where the Minoans once roamed. To start off, here’s five you’ll be convinced you were born to enjoy.
If you drive to the extreme south of Chania Prefecture in Crete, there’s this village called Anydri (sometimes Gialiskari or Dialiskari), where the seaside is nothing short of stunning. What’s more, very few people who visit or even live in Crete know about the beaches about 4km east of Paleochora. Actually, the sparkling coastline of Paleochora has about 18km of sunbathing and swimming joy.
Gianiskari is one of a cluster of spectacular but peaceful beaches at the exit of Anidri Gorge. The two you see in the Instagram share above, have small pebbles and deep cool waters to soothe the soul. The beaches have some umbrellas, and nudism being allowed is a fringe benefit, as well. To get to Gialiskari from Paleochora, just follow the dirt track leading to the east. After the camping, follow the road along the beach till you meet the peninsula. There is also a sign to “Gialiskari”, but if you don’t have a car, you can walk the 4km to the beach. Beware, it’s very hot in summer, so take the appropriate precautions if you’re walking.
Our amazing friend Alexandros Roniotis, the most knowledgeable expert on Crete’s nature, is always venturing to the wild places of the island. He and his family are purists, in love with the mystery and beauty of this unique home of ours. In the Instagram above, you see a secret place inside the wonderful UNESCO Sitia Global Geopark located on the easternmost edge of Crete.
This wildest of Crete regions has so many distinctive features from the time before written history to Bronze Age archaeological wonders and geological amazement that’s been around millions of years. Here, there are over 170 caves and dozens of remote gorges, plus countless secret coves and beaches to be enjoyed. This bathing spot is some meters from the famous beach at the end of the Vai Palm forest. Discover more of the thrilling Lassithi coastline via Roniotis’ Cretanbeaches.com, the most complete guide to Crete there is.
Also, in Lassithi Prefecture in the far east of the island, Chiona Beach is another of the island’s otherworldly places. In the share above, you get this sense of apartness, departure, remoteness, and peace most people feel when they visit this place outside ancient Palekastro. This part of Crete is breathtaking, wild, and almost mystic. Chiona (or Hiona) is just over 90km from Agios Nikolaos and about 22km east of Sitia.
The beach here is renowned for its physical beauty, the pale sands, and the crystal blue shallow waters. It’s one of the most serene spots you can imagine. Interestingly, the word Chiona means carob storehouse in the Cretan dialect. And it’s true that storehouses once dotted the coast here so that carobs could be transferred to ships bound for distant ports.
Glyka Nera, or Sweetwater Beach, is one of the most picturesque in all Crete. Located about 75km south of Chania town, this remote stretch of fine pebbles has been ranked among the top 20 in all Europe. The deep blue water is truly awe inspiring. Newcomers are amazed that freshwater from springs actually gushes out form under the pebble lining the sea.
Accessible by boat, unless you are a local goat, the beach is truly a bucket list day trip for anyone in search of jaw-dropping beauty. There is a footpath leading down to the beach, but it’s for experienced hikers with the right footgear. Flip-flops on these cliffs could mean curtains for those too adventurous.
Achlia Beach (or Ahlia) is 50km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 15km east of Ierapetra, near the quant mountain village of Schinokapsala. Hidden underneath the steep slopes of the of Thrypti Range, this inviting cove is surrounded by shade giving pines, and is possessed of striking blue water. Tamarisk trees offer some shade too, as do a few scattered umbrellas. But the beach is mostly undeveloped and few outside Crete know about it.
The Gorge of Achlia, ends at the sea here, and hiking the region always unfolds new Cretan treasures for visitors. The waterfalls up the gorge being a surprise for visitors in early Spring. This is the ideal family area, since the crowds don’t gather here during the season. Nearby, there are many vacation villas for rent, and traditional tavernas line the road to and from the beach.