Best beaches in Crete

Elafonísi Beach
The turquoise water is beautifully contrasted by pink-tinted sand (pictured above), making this beach on the southwestern tip of the island extremely Instagram-worthy. You’ll find yourself wading through warm water with access to multiple white sandbars or the natural islet sheltering the beach from rough waters. Elafonísi draws large crowds throughout the year, particularly in the summer months. So, if you want seclusion, head there in the spring.

Mátala Beach
Matala, Crete, Greek Islands
(c) Nicholas PittGetty Images
Mátala was known as a hippie hangout in the ’60s and ’70s. Today, romantics from all over the world enjoy sipping on a late night drink while the nearby caves are illuminated. During the day, visitors flock the beach for a dip. The consistent crowds have resulted in convenient amenities like a bathroom and lifeguard.

Sweetwater Beach
HORA SFAKION, CRETE, GREECE – 2014/05/21: View of secluded Sweetwater Beach between the villages of Hora Sfakion and Loutro on the southern coast of the Greek island of Crete. (Photo by Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
© 2014 Leisa TylerLeisa Tyler
Those looking for seclusion will love this stretch of sand in Crete’s Sfakia region, as it’s isolated between mountains and is only accessible by foot or boat. The small springs underneath the beach’s pebbles provide fresh water–hence the name–allowing for trees to grow and provide welcome shade. You may want to pack your own lunch as there is only one small café serving the beach.

Vai Beach
Greece, Crete, Palm Beach, Vai, Aerial view of coastline
© Christian Heeb/ AWL Images LtdGetty Images
This beach at Crete’s northeastern tip is famous for its palm trees–there are so many you may fool yourself into thinking you’re in the Caribbean. The summer season brings large crowds, and the beach is often packed tight with sunbathers. Instead, beat the masses and arrive in the early morning or plan your trip for the early spring or late autumn.

Balos Beach
Greece, Crete, Gramvoussa Peninsula, Balos
(c) Buena Vista ImagesBuena Vista Images
Relax on the soft white sand lining this beach in northwestern Crete. From the lagoon, you can see the island of Gramvoussa. If you’re feeling adventurous, venture to the top of the island where the remains of a Venetian castle offer stunning views of the surrounding area.

Mýrtos Beach
Myrtos Beach, Cephalonia, Ionian Islands, Greek Islands, Greece, Europe
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
Mýrtos has been luring bohemian sun-seekers since the 1960s, and the laid-back vibe still exists today. You’ll find sunbathers lounging on the numerous free sunbeds scattered across the beach. Additionally, the surrounding area is known for multiple ancient Minoan sites. Make sure to check them once you’ve had enough sun.

Frangokástello Beach
Frangokastello beach CRETE
A Venetian castle, long used to guard the town against pirates, anchors this beach on the southern coast. The area’s history is rich and visitors can explore the castle as well as other ruins after a day on the beach. According to locals, you may even catch a ghost roaming the castle from time to time.

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