The beach of Fodele Beach will offer you all that you’d expect during your vacations: relaxation and suntanning on the beach beds, swimming, beach sports. But if you want to explore more, the island of Crete is big enough to offer a variety of beaches for every taste: from exotic sandy beaches with palm trees to secluded coves, with pebbles or sand, organized or not. However, there are at least five must-see beaches that you should definitely include in your list, and make sure you visit at least one or two of them!
1. Elafonisi (Chania)
Elafonisi is perhaps the most famous Cretan beach, attracting thousands of visitors every summer who come to enjoy its exotic turquoise waters and striking landscape. Located 76km away from the city of Chania at the southwesternmost extremity of the island, Elafonisi is home to a variety of rare animals and plants, such as the endangered sand lilies. For this reason, it has been declared a Natura 2000 protected area and it is forbidden to remove any plants, animals, shells and sand from the area. The pinkish sand of Elafonisi takes its color from millions of crushed shells, a real marvel of nature. The water is shallow in most parts, and the beach is organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, making it ideal for families. Plus, there are several snack bars, restaurants and hotels in the area. If you like more isolation, it is well worth exploring the beautiful nearby coves and beaches, such as Kedrodasos, by following natural trails through white sandy hills and cedar trees.
2. Preveli (Rethymnon)
The lovely sandy beach of Preveli is located 35 south of Rethymnon city, at the exit of a breathtaking gorge “hiding” a tropical palm tree forest and a river spilling into the sea. The exotic landscape of Preveli became a favorite destination for hippies in the 60s and 70s, and today maintains a laid-back vibe, as the landscape is pristine with no sunbeds and umbrellas – but the generous shade of the palm trees is more than enough. Walk up the beautiful gorge, home to one of the largest colonies of the endemic Theophrastus palm trees, and enjoy refreshing swims into the river ponds.
3. Balos Lagoon (Chania)
Set in a breathtaking landscape 56km northwest of Chania, Balos lagoon with its turquoise waters is definitely a must-see. The easiest way to visit the beach is via ferry from Kissamos port. Like Elafonisi, Balos is a famous exotic beach that attracts thousands of visitors every summer. Its white sand and shallow turquoise waters are ideal for kids, and the wider area is protected by the Natura 2000 program. There are umbrellas and sunbeds to protect you from the heat and the sun, and there is a canteen for snacks and water.
4. Ligres (Rethymnon)
Southern Rethymnon has some of the best beaches of Crete without the crowds, and Ligres is surely one of the most beautiful. Situated 51km south of Rethymno, the long sandy beach of Ligres offers relaxing moments and refreshing swims in crystal clear waters. The beach is not organized, but there are taverns over the beach serving traditional Cretan cuisine and fresh fish. Walk west from the beach and discover a beautiful small waterfall falling next to the sea and more secluded beaches. Ligres, as most beaches in the area, attracts campers and nudists!
5. Kommos (Heraklion)
Right next to the famous beach of Matala with the scenic caves (also worth visiting) and 66km southwest of Heraklion, expands the vast sandy beach of Kommos. A favorite place for campers and nudists, the beach is big enough to accommodate every taste, and it is never too crowded. At the eastern part Kommos you can see the (fenced) archaeological site of Kommos, which once was the Minoan harbor of Phaestus. The largest part of the beach is not organized, but there are a few canteens and if you walk to the west, you will arrive at the coastal settlement of Kalamaki that has many taverns, cafes, sunbeds and umbrellas. The beach of Komos is beautiful, but you should be aware of currents when the weather is windy, and caution is needed because the seabed in some places is rocky.