Crete is widely known for its mesmerizing beaches. Many of these areas are protected under the international Natura 2000 program which was established in 1992 by the EU to protect the biodiversity of nature. Thus, always remember to respect nature when visiting these areas.
Vai Beach, Sitia
Located in the very eastern part of the island, Vai has the biggest palm forest in Europe. In addition to having beautiful palm trees, Vai also has a wonderful sandy beach and clear waters, making it one of the most beautiful destinations in the Mediterranean.
Seitan Limania Beach, Akrotiri
In the northwestern part of Crete, this beach is located at the bottom of two rocky hills, but it’s definitely worth the small hike. The water is calm and deep, and the beach even has some nice rocks to jump from. It’s very small though, so be prepared for crowds especially during the hottest tourist season.
The beaches of Agios Nikolaos
What’s best about the beautiful beaches of Agios Nikolaos is that they are located right in the center of the city and are easily accessible. These beaches are especially convenient for families since the local tavernas are within walking distance.
The Red Beach, Matala
Located in the southern part of the island close to Matala, the Red Beach is a great location for free-spirited people – nudism is completely acceptable. Close to the shore there’s a beautiful big cave, and it’s possible to swim quite far inside to investigate more.
Psaromoura Beach, Agia Pelagia
This beach is relatively close to the city of Heraklion, but like many other beautiful beaches in Crete, you need a car to get there. The beach is great for snorkeling and rock collecting.
Elafonissi Beach, Kissamos
This beach used to be under the occupation of pirates, and it is understandable why – the view is just breathtaking and the white sand gives this beach an exotic look. You can choose to stay either at the more organized or the more casual part of the beach, depending on your preferences.
Ditiko Beach, Lentas
Ditiko Beach, also known as Diskos, in the southern part of the island is an ideal place for even a longer stay, if you have your tent or hammock with you. It’s perfect for nature lovers who want to stay in touch with the outside world too: there are shops and tavernas a short walk up a hill.
Beach of Chrissi Island, Ierapetra
This small island was almost closed to the public once it was clear that the ecosystem couldn’t handle the amount of litter tourists were leaving behind. Daily boat cruises are still organized, but every visitor must promise to be responsible – the clear water and fresh smell of cedar are worth it. The island has the largest naturally formed Lebanon cedar forest in Europe, which makes the beach even more unique. The majority of the trees have an average age of 200 years, and the density is approximately 28 trees per hectare.
Lagoon of Balos, Kissamos
In the very western part of Crete the lagoon of Balos has beautiful clear blue waters and amazing scenery. The water is very shallow and the sand is very fine, so this beach is ideal for children.
Korakas Beach, Rethymnon
Close to the city of Rethymnon and next to the village of Rodakino, this long beach is well-organized with tidy umbrellas, tavernas and even rooms for rent, but on the other end, it has some wild rocks and plenty of pebbles. The water is clear and there is lots of room for everybody.