Swim in turquoise waters, dig your feet in velvety white sand, take a nap under the shade of palm trees, and all this while you are still in the Mediterranean! Crete has countless amazing beaches, but there are just a few that contest the beaches of the Caribbean. Pack your beach bag, take your camera and follow us to the best exotic beaches of Crete!
Elafonisi is perhaps the most famous beach of Crete, together with Balos. Situated in one of the most beautiful regions of Chania, at the southwestern extremity of the island, Elafonisi is definitely a must-see. The shallow warm waters are perfect for kids, and they are crystal clear, as Elafonisi is part of a NATURA protected area and human intervention is limited. However, you will still find all the necessary comforts, including sunbeds, umbrellas and canteens. If you have time, it is well worth walking to the nearby beach of Kedrodasos through the E4 trail, a hotspot for campers and one of the most beautiful “hidden” gems of Crete.
A mind-blowing landscape you will never forget, Balos is situated at the northwestern part of the island, and it is accessible by car or ferry (a recommended option, as you can also visit the lovely island of Gramvousa). The impressive Balos beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a full day swimming in tempting turquoise waters. Balos is also an ideal beach for children, as they can play carefree in the shallow waters of the lagoon. You can find snacks and drinks in a small canteen or in the ferries, and there are sunbeds and umbrellas.
The beach of Preveli is not as famous as Elafonisi and Balos, but offers something the other two beaches miss: palm trees (lots) and a river! The palm tree forest of Preveli stretches for 1-2 km inside the mainland, leading to a beautiful gorge full of small lakes and waterfalls for refreshing swims away from the hot summer sun. Enjoy swimming in the Mediterranean blue waters of the sandy beach, and then follow the trail by the river that leads into the palm forest, until you find the perfect spot to relax – preferably under a palm tree and next to a pond with a waterfall for cool showers!
If palm trees are your thing, but you also want to swim in turquoise waters, then Vai is definitely worth a visit! Vai is situated at the northeastern end of the island and hosts the largest palm grove in Europe that is also about 2000 years old! The endemic Phoenix theophrasti palm trees grow and flourish in a protected fenced area that can only be accessed during the day. The stunning sandy beach of Vai is memorable like a card-postal, but it is always crowded with people. If you wish to escape the crowds, follow the trail that starts from the east end of the beach, and in 5 minutes you will be in the beautiful, secluded beach of Psili Ammos.
Fun fact: Vai became famous in the early 1970s, when a commercial for Bounty chocolate was shot here! However, the coconuts in the commercial (and the chocolate) did not come from Vai, as the endemic palm trees only produce dates!