Beaches of Crete


Crete beaches are made up of more than just sand and water. They have historical depth, and diverse beauty.

A fun but simple music festival brought me to Matala but I left with an unexpected education on the long history of a truly fascinating place. Matala is a gem of a beach tucked into the very southern corner of the island of Crete and distinguished by its wall of mysterious manmade caves.

The walls of Matala contain a lot of history. They are an alluring wonder to ponder from the pretty beach below. Originally believed to be created thousands of years ago for the purpose of mass graves, the caves later became homes to hippies and famous rock-and-rollers of the 60’s like Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, and Janis Joplin.

For a long time, Matala sat quiet and relaxed in its small corner of the world. The Cretan residents and those that chose to live in the walls shared this otherwise unknown place. Recently, in efforts to revitalize the hippie community an annual festival has brought some life and tourism into the fishing town, and a chance to celebrate the interesting history.

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Packed with people but not one resort, no vendors, and no restaurants, Elafonisi is one of my favorite beaches.

Pink sand lines the edge of the shores and the soft white sand is met on either side with wildly different waters. Dunes covered in an ecological wonderland separate the two pools. One side is cold, crisp, and crystal clear, blue waters, perfect for a swim, the other is shallow, warm, green-hued pools best for walking though, lying around, and watching daring kite surfers in the distance. It’s refreshing to see such a busy, beautiful beach so well-preserved and cared for.

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Preveli, in the south is a unique meeting point of a strong emerald-green river and the royal blue sea. Palms densely guard along the riverside like a protecting barricade until its cold waters meet the salty sea. Known also for its monastery, Preveli is a fun stretch of land to get lost in. It’s easy to spend hours climbing the rocks along its river, or relaxing by the beach.

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Agios Palvos, in its short span of space has long, pebble beaches backed by tall, dramatic dunes, cliffs that spill down in an odd formation of layers to the sea, and pretty white wash that floods naturals pools, creating warm, salty baths. It’s a playground for climbing, exploring, and breathtaking views.

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Near Chania, in the north, Seitan Limenes beach is worth every bit of effort it takes to get to. A drive down a steep edge of hairpin curves and a rocky climb down a cliff drop you off at small, enclosed, perfect swimming beach. Looking up from the water, surrounded by tall rocks hugging in tightly, the dirt path that leads down blends in and disappears, making you feel like you’ve truly found a secret, secluded beach.

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Crete, an endless supply of perfect beaches.