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Crete Beaches in the Sun

Vai Palm Beach, Crete

Ela! To visit Crete beaches, lying peacefully in the sun.

With so many wonderful beaches, it is hard to choose. Which is your favourite? Life on the beach can be busy, social or relaxed.

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See the handy map below for locations of our selected beaches.

See below for our beach by beach exploration of Crete, from west to east.

The beaches in Crete are very different, depending on where you go. There are wild beaches with surf, or calm inlets without a ripple. There are comfortable beaches with sunlounges, tavernas, cafés and restaurants, or isolated beaches with the wind in your hair.

Palaiochora Beaches Crete

The beautiful Mediterranean sparkles and glows blue, blue, blue. Distances become fractured, the light plays with our senses and our memories...the atmosphere expands and shimmers, opening our hearts.

Crete has many clean Blue Flag beaches where issues such as water quality, litter and environmental education are looked after to high standards. This rating also includes safety and environmental management issues, meaning a great beach experience for swimmers!

Below we have shared with you some of our favourite beaches of Crete, from west to east, wild beaches to town beaches...beaches for swimming and beaches for sitting at a taverna, beaches for sleeping and beaches for a great holiday in Kriti.

Crete has 300 days of sunshine on average every year, so it makes beach going very high on our list of things to do. With swimming from April to November, Crete has one of the longest seasons in the region.

Crete Beaches - Beach by Beach

From west to east - here are some of our favourites and the most beautiful beaches in Crete...

Western Beaches

Elafonisi Beach on the west of Crete, with its shimmering clear waters and islet, is one of our favourite Crete beaches. A protected area, this is well worth the visit.

Falasarna is a long wide beach on the north-west tip of Crete. 

Gramvousa one of the most stunning locations in Crete, rocky cliffs, islets, a ruined castle, pirate coves and azure waters of Balos Lagoon, all in a pristine unpopulated peninsula, in the north-west of Chania.

Balos Lagoon on the north-west tip of Chania.

Palaiochora - on the south coast of Chania 75 km from Chania town.

Palaiochora Beaches - exploring around the south-west of Chania.

Palaiochora Village - lots to see and do in this large village surrounded by beaches

Maleme Beach is a wide sandy beach 22 km west of Chania town on the north.

Agia Marina is a sandy beach just 9 km west of Chania on the north coast of Crete.

Beaches close to Chania town - yes, you can stay in town and visit beautiful beaches every day.

Sougia is a small fishing village on the south coast of the island. Arrive by boat.

Agia Roumeli a small remote village on south coast; get there by ferry to see the Samaria Gorge.

(above) is a stunning whitewashed village on the south coast of Crete, remote, quiet and beautiful.

We show you three ways to hike into this tiny village of Loutro via the coastal pathways...

Gavdos Island - get there from Palaiochora, Chora Sfakion or Plakias

Stavros Beach is a protected cove with soft sand and gentle waves, sitting under a picturesque peak, with tavernas by the bay

Souda Bay is a busy port and naval base in the north of Crete, dotted with beaches very close to Chania town, port and airport.

Central Western Beaches

Frangokastello a quiet beach with a ghostly ruined castle on the south coast of Crete.

Georgioupolis Beach on the north coast of Chania (above) is a 9 km long wide sandy beach.

Plakias Beach on the south coast of Rethymnon sits on a beautiful wide bay surrounded by mountains.

Preveli Beach on the south coast of Rethymnon, a hidden tropical paradise.

Agia Fotini on the south coast of Rethymnon, a quiet beach with a taverna and rooms.

Rethymnon Town Beach to the east of the town is 13 km of wide sandy sun and umbrellas, sun loungers, with plenty of activities, cafes and bars.

Bali Beaches on the north coast near Rethymnon, five protected coves to choose from.

Heraklion Beaches

Kokkinos Pirgos Beach on the south coast of Heraklion, a big wide beach and fish taverna, eat with your toes in the sand.

(above) on the south coast overlooking the Bay of Messara, is a very beautiful beach with unusual rock formations and plenty of history.

Matala history of the 60's includes a song by Joni Mitchell.

Matala Beach Festival is held in June each year.

Agiofarago Beach is remote, walk through the gorge to get here.

Agia Pelagia on the north coast, 23 km west of Heraklion town, is a beach side village with a delightful cove of turquoise waters.

Ammoudara Beach just west of Heraklion town, a wide sandy beach of 7 km, with the convenience of the city close by.

Tris Ekklisies Beach relax on the south coast.

Kato Gouves, on the north coast is east of Heraklion.

Anissaras Beach just 25 km east of Heraklion town.

Keratokambos Beach on the south coast, to the east of Pyrgos is a wild remote beach, where you can escape and find the wind in your hair.

Lasithi Beaches

Plaka Beach and fishing village gives you a great location to see Spinalonga Island and Elounda Bay

Elounda on the north coast 11 km from Agios Nikolaos, is one of the luxury areas of Crete, of course the beach is free and it is very enjoyable.

Kitroplateia Beach one of Agios Nikolaos' town beaches, just right for a dip after sightseeing.

Chrissi Island Beaches - simply the stuff dreams are made of...

Kato Zakros is a tiny beach village on the quiet south-east coast of Crete. Beautiful and relaxed.

Vai Beach and Palm Forest (pictured above) on the eastern tip of Crete, is one of the most unusual beaches in Europe, home to a picturesque and unique palm forest, clear waters and a sandy beach. One of our favourite Cretan beaches.

7 East Crete Beaches - presented by an enthusiastic traveller including Istro, Agia Fotia, Makrigialos, and Chrissi Island.

Accommodation By the Beach

Crete Beaches - Life at the Beach

Life at the beach - straw of umbrella on a Greek summer day (image by Horia Varlan)

Snorkelling is perfect in Crete because of the clear waters and abundance of marine life to see, good visibility and warm waters. During holiday season there are quite a few day tours for divers and snorkellers. One good spot for snorkelling is Agia Pelagia, 23 km west of Heraklion town.

Diving in clear waters of Crete (image by Mark Latter)

Scuba is very organised in Kreta and there are a number of clubs, courses and tours to do. Again the clear waters make diving a dream. You can see all types of fish, beautiful coral and shells, octopus, moray eels, scorpion fish, salemas, bream, stingrays, sponges, sea anemones and of course the sea turtles. See our nature pages for more information. There is good diving off Dia Island, off Heraklion town.

One of the most romantic ways to visit Kriti is to take a ferry to her remote beaches, such as Loutro, Agia Roumeli and Glyka Nera, where lack of roads and very steep mountains make sea travel and hiking the only access. Start from Chora Sfakion.

Preveli Palm Forest (image by Mark Latter)

There is a luscious hidden palm forest at Preveli Beach at the mouth of the Megas Potamos at the end of Kourtaliotikos Gorge (above).

Palm trees on the beach, it sounds so tropical, however you can laze under a palm tree (actually a whole forest of them), on Vai Beach in Lasithi. This is a truly stunning setting, undeveloped, pristine and really memorable. There is no township at Vai, however it is worth the journey and we recommend it.

More about the palm forest on our nature pages.

Vai Palm Forest and Beach

Sea Turtles Crete

Remember that some Crete beaches are home to turtles. The caretta caretta sea turtle is an endangered species so is fully protected and there are programs to ensure its safety.

On Kriti, turtles nest at Chania, Rethymnon and Messara Bay. More about the turtles on our nature pages.

Sperm whale (image by Gustavo A)

There are dolphins and whales in the seas of Crete, so chances are you might see one, or visit our nature and conservation pages to find out more. In the waters around Crete are Sperm Whales (above) and Striped Dolphins (below).

Striped Dolphin in Greece (image by Kostas Limiotis)

If you have a favourite Crete beach, please let us a story and photo on YOUR Favourite Crete Beach page.

This beautiful beach is named LoutroLoutro, south Crete

More on beach accommodation options in Crete Hand picked small hotels, apartments, guest houses and domatia within walking distance of the beach.

Seaside tavernas in Crete...our top picksSeaside tavernas in Crete...our top picks

Our Top 7 Beaches with Seaside Tavernas - sit by the sand and relax over lunch or dinner with local food, especially seafood, next to the beach.

Crete Beaches on the Map

Below you can choose your beach by location on the map of Crete.

Getting Here

Take a 1 hour flight from Athens to Heraklion with Aegean Airlines or Olympic Air, with many flights available per day.

Or take a 9.5 hour overnight ferry from Pireaus port of Athens to Heraklion port.

More on flights and ferries below.

Car hire in Crete is a really good idea as it is a large island 60 km by 260 km. There is so much to explore.

When you book with our car rental partners - Rental Centre Crete - you are supporting a local company with excellent service and easy online booking. We are sure you will be well looked after by the team. Choose from hybrid, electric or regular vehicles.

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We trust you have enjoyed these tips from the We Love Crete team. Evíva!

The We Love Crete team - Anastasi, Katia & Apostoli

Anastasi, Apostoli & Katia are the We Love Crete team
We just love sharing our passion for Crete, Greece and travel
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We just love sharing our passion for Crete, Greece and travel
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