Your travel guide on Crete

Category Archives: Beaches

Matala and hippie

Matala is one of the most popular towns not only of the southern coast but also of the whole of Crete. Currently, it is one of the most recognizable places in Crete. On its eastern side is the Messara plain, which is one of the largest agricultural areas of Crete, and on the southern side the Asterousia range begins. The town itself is located at the bay of Messara, closed from the south and north. Beach of Matala is a 300-meter. It is worth mentioning here, however, that there is no loose sand on it, but rather fine gravel. After all, for a Cretan standard, the beach is good anyway. Its northern part is covered by tamarisk trees, and the picturesque landscape is complemented by crystal clear water and the previously mentioned gently sloping rock with caves. The seabed is quite rocky in places, while the often-blowing western winds cause that there are high waves.

Like the neighboring Kommos and Red Beach, this beach has been protected under the Natura 2000 program. Its aim is to preserve the local nature to ensure long-term survival of the most valuable and endangered species and habitats in Europe.

In 2018, after a year’s break, the beach was again awarded the Blue Flag award. In the evenings, both taverns at the beach and those in the interior of the town are full of people. In Matala you will find a lot of different private guest houses and a campsite. However, if you are going to be here on the Matala Beach Festival date , you must book places just after the date of the festival ….

Free spirrit of Matala

For several years, Matala Beach Festival has been organized here, which attracts fans of good music and entertainment for one June weekend. It is all left after Matala’s glorious hippy past.

In the 1960s and 1970s, this small fishing village became a Mecca for hippies.

At the end of the 1950s, Matala was a small fishing village consisting of about ten modest homes. They were built away from the sea shore in the depths of the ravine located on the extension of the bay. It was during this period that this place was discovered by the first rebels seeking freedom. For the most part, they were well-off people who could afford a carefree life in Matala. Among the regulars at the time, Matala even found a British lord. They took care of excellent relations with local residents. They never walked in too scant clothes, and women who were swimming in the sea used old-fashioned one-piece costumes. Times, however, changed and in the following years, the first foreign residents of Matala were here only during the holiday season and their place was taken by more liberated youth. In 1965, battles appeared here, representatives of the then popular nonconformist movement rejecting consumerism. In seeking the truth, alcohol and drugs were to help them. Two years later, this place was discovered by representatives of the hippie movement who settled in Matala for longer. They also protested against what they thought was meaningless with their lifestyle. Although the life they lead here can be described as quite simple and primitive, it is worth remembering that most of them were people with very good education. A large part of the hippies living here were then Americans who decided to live in unity with nature. They deliberately decided to give up life in a consumer society. Seeking the meaning of life and harmony, they spent lazy days and nights under the starry Cretan sky. A sense of freedom, a beautiful beach, hospitable bay and azure waters have created the perfect hippie scenery. In 1970, shots were even made here for the Greek film ” My hippie aunt ” directed by Alekos Sakellarios.

The first person who opposed the presence of hippies in Matala was Michalis Vamvoukas, who started sending letters to the Cretan newspaper ” PATRIS ” with a request to remove them. According to Michalis, the lifestyle of hippies posed a threat to the local society and Orthodoxy practiced here. These letters initiated further events. The local bishop Timotheos (later archbishop of Crete) decided to drive wild natives out of the rock. He also wrote a magazine in which he called the caves “the home of a moral disintegration.” These words hit the front pages of Athenian newspapers. And after paradise The final solution to the problem of hippies in Matala occurred in the summer of 1969, when the Cretan newspaper ” Mediterranean ” described people who camped here as a “bummer”. In the most delicate translation it can mean a menel or a tramp. There were also suspicions of homosexuality. After such publications, the prosecutor of Heraklion Michalis Tsevas commissioned a special investigation in the Matala caves. The purpose of the police raids lasting day and night was to search for the famous orgies. And although no evidence of such sexual orgies or spreading homosexuality has been found, cannabis was discovered during police checks. Ultimately, therefore, the investigation ended with seventeen convictions for possession of drugs. The actions of the authorities and the church led to the fact that the community of flowering children left this place and moved to other parts of the island. They found shelter near the beaches of Vai , Plakias , Preveli or Lentas , as well as on other Greek islands. The archaeologists took over the caves and closed them for a long time.


Ligres is located 51km south of Rethymno and 7km south of the village Kerames, at the foot of the imposing mount of Siderotas. It is actually the north part of the beachfront called Akoumiani Gialia, starting from Mellissa cape to the south.

Ligres is a vast beach with coarse sand and fantastic deep sea. The relatively tough access has fortunately kept the development of tourism away, making it one of the nicest, tranquil and most secluded beaches on the island. The beach is not organized, but there are taverns and a few rooms on the west part of the beach, which can be accessed by car through a bad asphalt road.

At the west end of the beach there is a beautiful waterfall having water all year round, which falls next to the sea!

Seaside settlement of Agios Pavlos is located 58 km south of Rethymno, west from Agia Galini, on the edge of Akrotiri Melissa. To get here you have to pass the villages of Akoumia or Saktouria.

Ag. Paulos it is a quite tranquil place, hidden in a windy bay, suitable for family holidays or one day relax. In the bay there is a beautiful beach with deep green waters and a wonderful sandy beach. Nearby there are several rooms for rent and taverns, where basic services (umbrellas, beach bikes, etc.) are provided.

the perfect beach attracts most of the visitors, some of them prefer to visit St. Paul village itself, to have short accommodation and food there. The Akumiani Gialia, is located behind the western edge of the bay and is probably the best beach in Rethymnon area.. You can get there from a path that starts from St. Paul village. According to newer researchers, Saint Paul visited this beach and harbour for the start of his trip to Rome.

if you are in search of the best beaches to visit in Crete, here is our first suggestion: Agiofarago beach.
Located about 80km south of Heraklion city, at the exit of the homonym Gorge of Agiofarago, clear blue waters await you!
The beauty of the place exists to its not so easy access as if you want to go, you should either hike for approximately 50′ the gorge or catch a boat from Matala, Agia Galini, or Kali Limenes.

The crystal secluded beach at the end of Agiofarago Gorge

Agiofarago Gorge, one of the special gorges In Crete, is located in Heraklion, between the Monastery of Odigitria and the seaside village Kaloi Limenes. It will take you about 20 minutes to cross. At the beginning of the route, you will see the church of Agia Kyriaki which is in a cave! In the gorge is also the church of St. Anthony which is also partly in a cave and was the center of the ascetics of the region. The several archaeological findings in Agiofarago, show that there has been activity in the Minoan and Venetian times. Characteristic is the Minoan, circular, domed tomb near the church of St. Anthony. Shortly after, you will find a cave with a low entrance and a large room. The Abbot of the Monastery of St. Anthony lived there.

According to history, Agiofarago was inhabited by hermits since at least the 11th century. When you cross the gorge you will reach a beautiful beach overlooking the Libyan Sea! We recommend good to keep water with you, as in the gorge there are no sources of water.


The idyllic scenery of Crete’s Northeast coast

Driving along the North East coast through the gorge of St George we reach the picturesque town of Agios Nikolaos. Here we board a boat and Spinalonga Cruise starts. A Cruise along the Mirabelo gulf. Passing the Kri-Kri Island, the Cave of the pirate Barbarossa and the bird island, we reach the small sandy bay of Kolokitha, where the boat will be anchored. Here you have plenty of time for swimming at the crystal clear water, and a BBQ (optional) will be served on board. We then proceed to the small island of Spinalonga.

Spinalonga the island of Lepra

Island of Spinalonga

Spinalonga has had a very chequered history and today, although uninhabited, still echoes with ghostly reminders of the past. The Venetians constructed a very impressive fortress with 40 cannons which has been guarding the bay since the 15th century. At the beginning of 19th century human pain and sorrow was scattered around this islet. It became a leper colony, the last active leper colony in Europe, and it remained so until 1957, when it was cleared by the Health Authorities, leaving the place uninhabited.

Spinalonga island


Inside the Island of Spinalonga

Panoramic view from Spinalonga

The route along the northern coast of the island takes us to the small fishing village of Elounda, known to the older of us from the popular 1970s BBC television series “Who pays the ferryman”. The village became also well-known through Belinda Jones’ novel “Out of the Blue” and lately, through Victoria Hislop’s world best-seller “The Island”. Today Elounda is a popular holiday resort, often visited by VIPs for the luxurious beach resorts that are situated in the area.

From there, we take the boat that gets us to the small and sorely tried island of Spinalonga. The history and the culture of the island of Spinalonga became one with human tragedy in the course of time. This small isle carries within the history of Ancient Greece as it served as a natural guard for the ancient city of Olous; the history of the Saracens as a hide-out for their pirates; the history of Venetians as their fortress; the history of Turks as their settlement; and the history of contemporary Greeks as their dwelling, or better, as the place where their leper would be sent into exile until 1957.

We stroll through the village roads, listening –along with our guide’s narration- to the cries and sighs of the diseased exiles, which seem like having been curved on the rocks and the walls of the houses and admiring the exquisite beauty of the area. Finishing our touring on this much afflicted place, we head for the small bay of Kolokitha, one of the most beautiful beaches on Crete. It is a remote beach with white sand and deep blue serene water, side by side with old olive groves, where we can swim and taste the delicious BBQ served on the boat.

After our short respite, we go back to Elounda, and then we move to the picturesque town of Agios Nikolaos, where we have our last stop. Here we have the chance to enjoy our coffee getting a perfect view of the magnificent lake, do our shopping in the traditional local shops and relax for a while before we hit the road for our going back.

We then go to Agios Nikolaos where you have time to look at the shop windows and visit the bottomless lake, where the “Lotus Eaters” the well-known film was shot.

Ag. Nicolaos

Yaliskari, also known as Yaniskari or Dialiskari, features some of the most beautiful beaches of Crete and is located 4 km east of Palaiohora or 80 km south of Chania.

In Yaliskari, a piece of land is projecting into the sea, shaping a small peninsula with idyllic beaches on either side—one with fine pebbles, facing the West, and another with thick sand, facing the East. The seawater is crystal-clear and deep, while nudists usually prefer the eastern part of the beach. The dirt road leading to Yaliskari is in good condition, the journey doesn’t take long and the landscape is magnificent, combining steep rocks with the pure waters of the Libyan sea.

Makris Yalos is a very famous beach resort in southeast Crete. It belongs to Lasithi prefecture and it is located 28 kilometers east of Ierapetra and 33 kilometers south of Sitia.

Makris Yalos translates as “long shore” and refers to the long sandy beach stretching out approximately 2 kilometers in length, whose shallow and crystal-clear waters are ideal for both children and adults. Even though Makris Yalos used to be a small fishing village, the area has witnessed a great tourist development during the past years, as the few big hotels are outnumbered by lots of rental apartments and studios for visitors. Nonetheless, it remains a peaceful destination, ideal for those who are looking for peace and quiet in their vacation. Moreover, in the region there are taverns, cafés, delis, a bank and a pharmacy among other amenities. In the evenings, the main coastal road of Makris Yalos gathers the local youth, who have fun at the bars until dawn, while the traditional taverns, especially on the eastern side of the beach, offer a more familial and peaceful setting. Also, those who have a boat should know that Makris Yalos has a picturesque sheltered and safe harbor. In any case, Makris Yalos is a place that suits the tastes of visitors of all ages.