Spoilt for choice in Eastern Crete
Around the eastern end of Crete there is a wide range of beaches from the long, sandy and barren beach near Ierapetra, to golden sands of Vai, the tiny, rockier Mochlos and the busier but lovely Siteia beach.
If you are travelling by car there are usually parking spaces but be sure to get there early to guarantee a space at the busier, smaller beaches such as at Aghia Fotia. Parking is usually free except at Vai which was Euros 4.50 for the day.
There are often tavernas on the beach front: Kato Zakros had a particularly good beachfront, family run restaurant. Mochlos had a wide selection of tavernas and Tholos has a small but friendly bar /restaurant which apparently is good for lunch.
Most of beaches had a shower for rinsing off after swimming and some had toilets - the ones at Vai were very good but a about 150 metres away in the Car park.
Sun loungers and shade umbrellas are available at many of the beaches; costs varied from 4.50 each at Vai to 6.00 for two in Siteia. We tended to try to find natural shade from trees at the beach edge; they come for free!
Many of the beaches were Blue Flag beaches - the highest standard of beach quality throughout Europe. Vai, despite its popularity was Blue Flag as was the Aghia Fotia. As you would expect the best beaches for snorkelling and viewing marine life are the Blue Flag but you're more likely to find greater variety of fish and invertebrates if you swim around the rocks. That was a reason we liked Vai and Aghia Fotia because both have rocky edges.
Chania (Hania) is the capital of the Prefecture of the same name and the second biggest town in Crete, with a population of 60.000 inhabitants.
As for me Chania is one of the nicest towns in Crete with wonderful houses, parks and squares and a well designed town-plan.
Visit Public Market in the town center with grocery stores, butchers' shops, fish market and vegetable shops; Maritime Museum of Chania and the magnificent Venetian lighthouse, built on the 16 century and restored by the Egyptians.
Chania was the birth place of one of the greatest statesman of the new Hellenic Republic - Eleftherios Venizelos. There is a museum of Venizelos (the headquater of the Foundation Eleftherios K. Venizelos) located in his residence in Chalepa (Chania). During my visit the guide of this foundation opened to me many interesting facts from Venizelos life.
Address: Elena Venizelou Square, Chalepa, 73133 Chania
Around the Morozini fountain in Iraklion here are some very nice looking cafe's some of which specialize in Bougatsa which is a flaky pastry filled with cheese or cream and then drizzled with honey. In the mornings when the first Ferries arrive many people make their way to these cafes’s to get their 'fix' of this delicious delicacy.
Balos, not the same one after 5 years
I needed to write this. More or less 5 years ago, in summer 2001 , I went in a trip through Mediterranean Europe with some friends.
At that time we read in a magazine about Balos Beach, a far away difficult to reach beach in the North Western corner of Crete. We read it was worth the effort to try and get there by car, even despite of the bumpy road, the Kri-kri goats all around and the 20 minute walk for the Cantina Boat parking.
We went there. It took us a long time but we were positive about it. We arrived at 03:00 am, we slept in the car park, and early in the morning, after the 20 minute walk, we arrived at 'the Beach'.
Balos Beach is a wonderful place. Apart from village noises, where backpackers and alternative tourists arrive to enjoy it, away from the crowds. You arrive there and say 'hello' to other few fellow travellers that get there. You enjoy it and of course you keep it clean.
All that effort to get there by car, and walking... people that arrived there KNEW you cannot throw waste in such a place.
However in 2006 I went back to Greece, and back to Balos Beach. We did it again. We arrived to 'the Beach' my friends were stunned with the view, the cristal clear water... but I realized something. Balos Beach was dirty. OK it was not filthy like some near-city beaches are in Greece. But c'mon, this is a far away difficult to reach beach.
The explanation proved clear to me when at around 12:00 pm a big ferry arrived to the beach , carrying hundreds of tourists to the beach. They were carrying their ferry sandwiches, their plastic waters and their chairs and umbrellas. Balos was crowded after 30 minutes. And these people, showed no respect to the environment.
It is a pity, but if you want to enjoy Balos you gotta go either in low season, or before 12:00 pm during the summer, early in the morning.
Massive, uncontrolled tourism is a cancer. We must educate toursim, do something.
NO DUMPING!! CLEAN OCEAN & BEACH PRESERVATION PLEASE!!
Elafonisi is a small and magic islet on the Southwest of Crete. It is connected to the beach with a shallow reef that allows crossing when the sea is calm. Cristal water and white and pink sand mades of Elafonisi a paradise on the beautiful island of Crete.
Avoid the main beach where the umbrellas and beds are for renting and look for a quiet place to enjoy it...
The most amazing beach of the South of Crete!!!