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Beaches

Crete is home to 478 beaches, so you have lots of choices for fun in the sea and the sand. When you are trying to decide which beach to visit, you’ll want to consider a number of factors. One major criterion is accessibility. Some beaches are beautiful but require a four-wheel-drive vehicle to access them and/or a long walk down a rocky and dusty trail. Some beaches have amenities like restrooms and snack bars, while others are totally lacking in such services (and in the winter season, no such services are likely to be available at any beach). Another consideration is how crowded a beach is likely to be. Crete’s beaches range from the very crowded to the nearly empty and everything in between. Crete also offers a selection of naturist beaches where nude sunbathing is tolerated. 

Many beaches on Crete have lifeguards in the summer who post flags that indicate the level of danger on that day. Here’s what the flags mean: Red = high hazard, yellow = medium hazard, green = low hazard, purple = dangerous marine life is present, and double red = beach closed. 

There are many sources of information about the beaches of Crete.  These links take you to sites that are particularly useful: here, here and here.

Kedrodasos Beach, Crete. Dronepicr, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Almyrida Beach

4 km from Gavalochori

Almyrida Beach (Παραλία Αλμυρίδας) is the beach that is closest to Gavalochori (4 kilometers or 2½ miles), and it offers many amenities, including tavernas and places to rent sunbeds and water-sports equipment. What was once the sleepy little fishing village of Almyrida (Αλμυρίδα) has now been completely overtaken by tourism, so this is a beach for people who like crowds. That said, there’s a nice view from the beach, and you’ll often be able to see ferries coming and going from the port of Souda (Σούδα).

Almyrida Beach
Almyrida Beach. UBenoît Prieur, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
Episkopi Beach
Episkopi Beach. Terry Dorvinen, Foundation for Gavalochori

Episkopi Beach

25 km from Gavalochori

One broad sandy beach not far from Gavalochori (25 kilometers or 15 miles) is Episkopi Beach (Παραλία Επισκοπής). The view here is engaging and reminds many visitors of beaches in the South Pacific because of the thatched umbrellas that cover the sunbeds available for rent. The long beach has a number of tavernas, and one of them, Chrysos Asterias, is family oriented with spaces for children to play in playhouses, enjoy slides, swim in a children’s pool, and ride rocking toys. 

You might combine a visit to this beach with a trip to Rethymno—you can explore the city in the morning and stop here on your way back to Gavalochori for a leisurely mid-afternoon lunch and swim.  

Kera Beach

6 km from Gavalochori

Kera Beach (Παραλία Κεράς) is located between Almyrida (Αλμυρίδα) and Kalyves (Καλύβες) and is only 6 kilometers (4 miles) from Gavalochori. It is a small, quiet, beautiful beach with no amenities. Because it is located between two tourist communities, however, amenities are just a short drive away.

kera beach
Kera Beach. Sonja Foss, Foundation for Gavalochori
kalyves beach
Harbor, Kalyves. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori

Kalyves and Kolatsos Beaches

8 km from Gavalochori

Kalyves Beach (Παραλία Καλυβών) is close to Gavalochori (8 kilometers or 5 miles away) and has a larger array of tourist services than Almyrida Beach. The main Kalyves Beach can become quite crowded, but to the west of Kalyves, opposite the SYN.KA supermarket, is a road that leads to the Kolatsos Beach (Παραλία Κολάτσος). This beach has a number of amenities and is usually not crowded. The Koiliaris River (Κοιλιάρης Ποταμός) at the west end of this beach flows into the sea here, so while you are swimming in the warm waters of the Aegean, you’ll be able to cool down by stepping into the stream of water flowing directly into the sea from snowmelt from the White Mountains.

Ompros Gialos Beach

9 km from Gavalochori

Ompros Gialos Beach (Παραλία Ομπρός Γιαλός) near Kefalas (Κεφαλάς) is worth visiting just to see its stunning aqua waters. The beach is accessible down a long paved but narrow road. Swimming is available here, but the beach is rocky, and it’s not a place for amateur swimmers or children. The beach has a snack bar that offers light meals. The distance to Ompros Gialos Beach from Gavalochori is 9 kilometers (6 miles).

Ompros Gialos Beach
Ompros Gialos Beach. Anthony Radich, Foundation for Gavalochori
koutalas beach crete
Koutalas Beach. Benoît Prieur, CC0, Wikimedia Commons

Koutalas Beach

8 km from Gavalochori

Koutalas Beach (Παραλία Κουταλά) is a sandy beach just outside the village of Kokkino Chorio (Κόκκινο Χωριό), which is 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Gavalochori. There are no facilities and the seabed is rocky, which means the beach won’t be crowded. A narrow road in the village takes you to the tip of Cape Drapanos (Ακρωτήριο Δράπανος), and after 800 meters (5 miles) on this road, you’ll see an intersection and the road that ends at the beach. A different road in this vicinity takes you to a cave that you can swim into and explore.

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Naturist Beaches

Although Crete has no official naturist beaches, the island has a high number of places where nude bathing is tolerated. Usually, these beaches are located around the corner or visually away from more popular beaches. Because beaches can change character from year to year, if you’re interested in these kinds of beaches, you’ll probably want to consult an updated list of naturist beaches on Crete on the internet. Please note that all the normal unwritten rules that apply to nude beaches everywhere apply here. If you obey those rules, you will be tolerated and won’t be arrested or otherwise disciplined by the Greek police. Here is one resource on naturist beaches on Crete.

Aerial_view_of_Kedrodasos_beach_on_Crete,_Greece
Kedrodasos Beach. dronepicr, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons
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