The 5 best beaches on the island of Crete

Crete is the largest island in Greece, located in the southern Mediterranean. Its beaches are not just any beaches but its heart and soul.  Moreover, it touches the border with the Libyan Sea and the Aegean Sea. We hope you enjoy these 5 stunning beaches that we have picked out for you, with unforgettable scenery for beach lovers.

Elafonissi – the aesthetic pink beach

The heavenly Elafonissi is located on the southwestern side of Crete, about 75 kilometers from Chania. It is an absolute treat for nature lovers because of its wilderness vibe. The majestic beach offers exotic beauty experiences. Cedar trees are scattered all around; white lilies, dunes, turquoise sea water and pinkish-white sand. It is also known as ‘the pink beach’ because of these pink and coral hues formed by tiny crushed shells and broken coral pieces.

The shallow water makes it possible for you to go on foot at the lagoon which is situated between the shore and island. You can focus on enjoying the beach and less on worrying because everything you need is here: umbrellas, sunbeds, a lifeguard, shower, canteens, toilets and changing rooms. Besides being an Instagram-worthy beach, you can also enjoy watersports here; it is a paradise for wind and kite surfers. Kids can also enjoy playing volleyball and racket in the water. Also, it’s an ideal place for snorkeling thanks to the clear and shallow water. Elafonissi is declared as a protected nature reserve and is home to various rare species of plants and flowers, as well as Caretta caretta (loggerhead sea turtles).

Balos – a star in the west

The famous bay of Balos is another picturesque beach in Crete, located at 56 kilometers northwest of Chania. Balos happily welcomes nature lovers with its wild and exotic beauty. The clear, warm, bright shades of turquoise and vivid blue waters add to the attraction, whilst its white and pink sand blends perfectly. The stunning view of the beach’s natural beauty will touch your heart and make the experience all the more worthwhile. Indigenous flora and fauna are also found at Balos and, for this reason, the beach is protected under the Natura 2000 program.

Eleonora falcons and cormorants can be found nesting in the caves and the beach is also home to loggerhead sea turtles and monk seals.  Surprisingly, the water is cooler and deeper behind the rocks around the boundaries; this results in making it a perfect snorkeling spot. Families will enjoy this beach without worrying about their children because the water is shallow and the beach is especially well-maintained and cleaned regularly during the tourist season from April to October. There’s also a beach café, toilets, umbrellas, sunbeds and cruise services.

The northerly Gramvoussa

The island of Gramvoussa lies two miles northwest from the lagoon of Balos. It is known for its historical 137-metre high Venetian fortress, strategically for the island’s protection during the occupation, along with its aesthetic shades of blue water and dreamy golden sand.

A rusty shipwreck lies to the north near the port which is a prominent part of the area’s history. Also, there is the small waterside church of St. Apostoli that dates back to the 16th century.  The beauty and history of Gramvoussa absorbs the soul and stays within.  It is a perfect spot for exploring, swimming and relaxation.  It is also an ecological wetland in the Mediterranean – a sanctuary and route for many different types of birds – and in the sea caves Monachus monachus and Caretta caretta nest, where they seek food in the warm waters. It is a surprisingly interesting location for botanists and home to 400 various types of plant species.

Falassarna – an exotic experience

The magical Falassarna is located 59 kilometers west of Chania. It has several sandy beaches, crystal clear water and an antique harbour. The romantic sunset view of the exuberant beach makes it a center of attention for the tourists. Furthermore, it leaves everyone enchanted by its tropical white sand and heavenly green waters. Tourists pay special visits to witness the beautiful ruins of the Hellenistic harbour located to the north. As a result of its eco-friendly environment, Falassarna beach is also listed as a Natura 2000 beach.

Popular with surfers and windsurfers, Falassarna has fully-organized sunbeds, umbrellas, showers and wind protection. There are also tavernas at the beach providing delicious Cretan snacks, coffee and water, and numerous hotels, restaurants and rental rooms are available with hillside views facing Falassarna beach.

The idyllic Preveli

Preveli beach is located around 35 kilometers south of Rethymnon. It draws attention with its unique landscape with lush palm tree forests and vegetation where the beautiful lagoon meets the sea. Preveli is dedicated to, and named after, the historical holy monastery situated nearby. The large colonies of palm trees (Phoenix theophrasti) give a scenic vibe with a heavenly, tropical landscape.

Preveli regularly hosts thousands of visitors each Summer and is categorized as the most beautiful landscape in Europe. You can explore along the river under the shades of palm trees and gently ascend towards the beautiful canyon. Also, swimming in the river is an amazing experience not to be missed. Furthermore, a pebble-bottomed sandy beach and cool waters can be found at the end of the river. There is also beautiful rock reminiscent of a heart at the eastern end of the beach. Tourists can easily buy and hire paddle boats, sun loungers, umbrellas and refreshments from the canteen shops. The area is a home to interesting wildlife due to its biodiversity and natural beauty and is under the special protection of Natura 2000.

Manos Dafermos is Owner of CreteVillas4U. CreteVillas4U is an online travel agency that specializes in renting villas on the island of Crete.

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