A Guide to the Best Beaches on Crete

Crete has long proved a favourite among holidaymakers and you don’t need to look far to see why. To really get to grips with this Mediterranean island, visitors can take in ancient harbours and modern towns, the plateaux of the rugged interior and the delights of the Cretan menu. But it’s the beaches which are the biggest draw here…

If you’re going for Malia holidays 2013, you’re probably after the full resort experience, complete with up-til-dawn nightclubs and beaches to laze on during the day. But also make time to head across the island to the peaceful south coast, populated with isolated coves and stunning sands. Among the top beaches beaches in this area are the sandy Pahiá Ámmos, a popular windsurfing spot, and eastern Gialiskári which boasts some tasty eateries.

Meanwhile, those keen to indulge in some tropical relaxation can head to Vai, on the eastern coast. This has a Caribbean vibe and it has even featured in a certain chocolate bar advert, thanks to its picture-perfect looks. It is the only natural palm tree beach on the island and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. The forest sits at the back of a gently curving sandy beach lapped by clear waters and from May to June and September to October, you’ll find Vai much quieter, attracting more independent travellers. As well as relaxing on the sands, holidaymakers can snorkel, scuba dive, jet ski and windsurf.

Another eastern gem is Mýrtos. Pulling in hoards of hippy travellers in the 1970s and 1980s, it now presents a sheltered stretch of pebble beach, with a relaxed vibe reminiscent of that era. You can hire a kayak or catamaran at the west end, while hungry and thirsty visitors can refuel in a number of tavernas.

Vacationers keen to experience the western coast can check out Balos beach. Located on the Gramavoussa peninsula, this is only reachable by car or boat. Its crystal clear waters and fine white sands make this the most picturesque and photographed beach on all of Crete.

No matter if you’re looking for a exotic paradise, an action-packed bay or just a quiet spot to open a book, Crete has beaches for every kind of traveller. It may be a well-frequented island, but with more than 600 miles of unspoiled coastline to its name, you won’t run out of places to escape the crowds.

Image by Shadowgate, used under Creative Commons license

Becki Darren is a freelance writer who has extensive experience travelling in the Baltic region, as well as a good few sojourns in the Eastern Mediterranean. Whenever stuck at home, she indulges in as much Greek food as she can find.