You will find some of the best beaches on Crete Island between Heraklion and Chania on the northern coast. Here, the mountains slope gently into the sea, forming heavenly backdrops for beachgoers who can admire both the sea touching the skies with soothing azure hues and the rocky ridges stretching to the east and west like immovable guardians.
Visitors can sunbathe on these beguiling beaches and take refreshing dips in the Cretan Sea. Every beach has a legend and mystical appeal if you look past the facilities made available for tourists. Take your time to discover more than the shore: adventure around and let the soul of each place fill your heart with grace.
Mononaftis Beach is ten minutes by car when you drive from Fodele Beach towards Heraklion. According to local lore, a ship sank here, and only one sailor survived—hence the beach’s name, Mononaftis, meaning “one sailor.” Likewise, the giant boulder rising from the sea some fifty meters from the shore is called Mononaftis.
Mononaftis is one of Agia Pelagia’s best beaches. It offers excellent facilities, including beach loungers and umbrella rentals, and tavernas serving local fare and refreshments. You can also rent boats, pedalo boats, and jet skis. However, note that you can only use the jet skis in a circuit in front of Mononaftis Beach, and you are not allowed to go far to explore the coast.
The beach is pebbly, and the waterbed has slippery, dangerous rocks—so you should wear closed-toe water shoes when swimming. However, the water is clear and ideal for snorkeling because it offers excellent visibility, and you can observe the rich marine life in the area, particularly around Mononaftis rock.
Scuba diving lessons are available near the shore, and diving centers also offer nighttime scuba adventures at Mononaftis Beach.
Ligaria Beach is one kilometer east of Agia Pelagia and a fifteen-minute drive from Fodele Beach. The area takes its name from the former monastery of Panagia De Ligara, which stood here once, as attested in a document from 1610. However, the monastery did not survive—in its place, there is the small chapel of Panagia (Our Lady).
The beach faces the Bay of Ligaria, flanked by rocky walls that protect the beach from the northwest winds (also known as etesian or the Meltemi) – especially on the east side, where the water is calm but gathers more sea debris. The west side of the beach is cleaner and excellent for swimming and snorkeling.
Ligaria Beach has coarse sand and some rocky or pebbly areas on the seabed, so wearing swimming shoes is a clever idea. You will find all the facilities on the beach for a relaxing day in the sun: loungers and umbrella rentals, tavernas, and watersports, including yachting, sailing, paddleboarding, scuba diving, and snorkeling.
The beach gets crowded in the summer, with parking places hard to find if you do not arrive early. Furthermore, locals and tourists favor this beach for its seascapes, cleanliness, facilities, and activities. In the high tourist season, there will be a lifeguard on duty.
Kladissos Beach is a Blue Flag stretch of sand northwest of the resort of Agia Pelagia, a ten to fifteen-minute drive from Fodele Beach. It is a fine gravel beach with calm, green water, and excellent amenities due to the nearby hotel that offers beach loungers, umbrellas, beach canopies, showers, and changing cabins.
Access to the beach is possible through the hotel’s entrance – despite being managed by the hotel, the beach is public. So, ask permission and remember you do not have to pay an entrance fee. Because few tourists know that access is not restricted to hotel guests, Kladissos Beach remains secluded and uncrowded.
Close to the beach, you can see remains of post-Minoan tombs and the ruins of the Prytaneum, a political and community center used by the politicians of the Hellenistic ancient town Apolonia between the third and fourth centuries AD.
Kladissos Beach is excellent for families with children as the water is shallow and calm, and lifeguards are on duty from June to September. Activities include swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, beach volleyball, jet skiing, parasailing, and banana boat rides.
Alyki Beach is a fifteen-minute drive from Fodele Beach towards Rethymno. It is the main beach of Almirida and a favorite destination for the residents of nearby Sisses village.
While only a few tourists are familiar with Alyki Beach, it is worth the drive to experience the Cretan littoral like a local. The beach taverna offers loungers and umbrellas and serves snacks and refreshments.
The beach has a lush green area with tamarisk trees for shade and a small stream where you can observe crabs and tortoises. Since it is in the countryside, the landscape surrounding it is postcard-pretty, too.
The waterbed is rocky, and the beach itself has both sand and pebbles – you will need water shoes. In the western part of the beach, you will see the ruins of the old carob tax office, which operated when Crete exported carob via cargo ships. Another scenic attraction at Alyki Beach is a small chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos).
Alyki Beach is lovely if you want to escape the tourist crowds. It is usually quiet—and since the water is calm, you can swim and snorkel. Spearfishing is also possible if you are into this sport.
Bali is a seaside resort some 25 minutes’ drive from Fodele Beach. The area has four beaches: Livadi, Varkotopos, Limani, and Karavostasis.
- Livadi Beach is in an open bay at the entrance to Bali. It is large yet crowded, favored by tourists who enjoy the facilities here: beach loungers and umbrella rentals, many tavernas, shopping, a changing cubicle, shower, and restrooms. The sand is fine on the beach and in the water, which is shallow for a long distance from the shore. You can rent pedalos, canoes, and SUP boards. A lifeguard is on duty in the high season from June to September.
- Varkotopos Beach in the bay of Varkotopos is a white sand and gravel beach with shallow water, ideal for families with children. It is busy in the tourist season as it offers excellent amenities, including sun loungers, umbrellas, and waterfront tavernas serving fresh fish, cocktails, and other refreshments. There is also an inflatable water park with slides for the little ones.
- Limani Beach, or the Harbor Beach of Bali, is just what its name implies: a small stretch of sand facing the marina. Crowds tend to take over the beach loungers early in the morning, and you will not find a place to put down a towel. Furthermore, there are several tavernas catering to hungry beachgoers. You can order beer, cocktails, and other refreshments. The advantage of being at Limani Beach is that you can go on a catamaran cruise or rent a boat, jet ski, canoe, or pedalo. The sand is fine; however, there are some rocks in certain sea areas, so wear water shoes. Moreover, the water is clean enough to see small fish swimming around the boats anchored in the harbor.
- Karavostasis Beach is the most scenic in Bali, and you will find it north of the village in a secluded bay. The water is shallow and clean, perfect for swimming and snorkeling, especially for observing the rich marine life near the shore. In addition, two tavernas serve fresh fish, seafood, comfort food, and drinks. You can rent beach loungers and umbrellas but note that the beach is small and crowded in the high season. Wear water shoes as the bottom of the sea is uncomfortably rocky.
These are some of the best beaches within a short driving distance from Fodele Beach & Water Park Holiday Resort. Of course, our Blue Flag beach has excellent amenities, watersports galore – including scuba diving – entertainment for all ages, a beach bar, and views that will take your breath away.