I think I've said before that I don't really get winded after lying in the sun, but in Crete, there are some unique and particularly beautiful beaches that I really couldn't miss, so I lazed around for a few hours on the sand almost every day and we bathed in the crystal clear waters of the seas that surround the island (Ionian Sea, Libyan Sea, and Aegean Sea).
This is how I discovered the fabulous Balos lagoon, Elafonisi beach known for its pink sand, Preveli with its palm forest, Kalypso which seemed more like a natural pool to me, Falasarna, and several other good beaches for swimming, jumping in the waves or watching sunsets.
1. Famous beaches in Crete: Balos, a kind of Greek Maldives
Balos Beach is by far the most spectacular beach in Crete, attracting tourists with its unreal beautiful sea watercolor and shallow depth, exotic fine white sand, and wild landscape that surrounds it.
Balos Beach is located in the northwest of the island, approximately 53 km away from Chania, and you can reach it by car, by ferry from Kissamos, or by water, through a trip organized by local agencies. If you prefer the option on the water, you will also have the opportunity to visit the island of Gramvousa, located near Balos beach.
If you want to go to Balos by car, you should know that the last 10 km of the road is not asphalted, but even so, it can be covered with smaller cars or with a low wheelbase.
We went with an SUV and had no problems, and the lack of infrastructure is compensated by the beauty of the landscape. The road winds along the sea and the wild goats interrupt your pace with their unexpected appearances but don't worry because the speed of travel is slow anyway.
It is recommended to arrive at Balos beach before 10 o'clock for at least two reasons: the first would be to find a parking space. By lunchtime, the parking lot fills up and extends for several kilometers along the access road. Then also around noon the ferry and mini-cruises come that bring a lot of tourists here, so the beach gets very crowded.
Balos Lagoon is a protected area, which is the reason why the infrastructure has not been interfered with. The entrance is paid (1 euro/person), and from the place where you leave the car, you have to go down to the beach for about half an hour, and it would be nice to have some sneakers on your feet instead of flip flops.
On the beach, you will find a bar with soft drinks, a changing cabin, and a toilet, and the price for an umbrella and two sunbeds is 10 euros/per day. Of course, you can also opt for standing with a towel on the sand without any problems.
Due to the small depth of the water, Balos beach is also suitable for families with small children.
2. Unique beaches in Crete: Preveli and the palm forest
Preveli is the beach of explorers, of those who love more adventure and less comfort. Preveli beach is not very big and it is not landscaped, but it has as an asset the palm forest behind it, through which flows the wonderful Kourtaliotis river, then flows directly into the sea through a corner of the beach.
The palm forest is absolutely gorgeous, and a walk through it is not to be missed. In fact, that's why we went to Preveli.
The greenish river that crosses it is clean and you can bathe in it, and if the sun is too hot you can retreat to the shade of the palm trees.
If you walk through the palm forest in the morning, you have every chance to see animals. We came face to face with a wild goat and a small animal that I could not identify, but it looked like a weasel and was very friendly.
Preveli beach is located in the south of the island, at a distance of 50 minutes by car from Rethymno, and from the place where you leave the car, you will have to walk about 15 minutes to the beach.
If you want to sit by the sea, take your umbrella and towel with you because you won't find sunbeds and don't forget to be early because after 12 o'clock the mini-cruises come and fill the beach and the forest with tourists.
The water is clean and without waves, but it deepens quite quickly and on its bottom, you will find sand mixed with small stones, which is why you will need water shoes.
On the beach, you can find a restaurant, and if you want to explore more, you should know that on both sides of the beach, you will find beautiful viewpoints.
3. For snorkeling lovers – Kalypso Beach
Kalipso Beach was a spontaneous discovery, on the spot, and one of the beaches we felt the best on.
In fact, the beach is a misnomer, because the sunbeds are placed directly on the rocks. The water is very clean and calm but deep and perfect for snorkeling and jumping. You can also take scuba diving courses here.
The space intended for the beach is tiered and quite airy, but still small in extent. The number of sunbeds is limited, and once they are all occupied, you don't really have anywhere else to sit. This is also the reason why the beach is not crowded.
Access with a towel is also allowed, but standing on the rocks is quite uncomfortable, and if you come at noon and can't find any free places, you really have nowhere to go. You take a bath, walk on top of the rocks and then take it off so you don't get sunburned.
Kalypso Beach is part of Kalypso Cretan Village Resort & Spa, located in the south of the island, about 50 minute drive from Rethymno, not far from Preveli Beach. Access to the beach is free, and if you want to rent an umbrella with sunbeds or canopy beds you have to pay 10 euros/day.
We had a great time here. The only unpleasant experience was the lunch I had at the resort's restaurant, a buffet lunch, eye-catching at first glance but disappointing in terms of freshness and taste, and on top of that, quite expensive.
4. Famous beaches in Crete: Elafonisi the pink beach
Paja Elafonisi is located in the southwest of the island, an hour's drive from Kissamos, and is famous for the pink color of the beach sand. This comes from crushed shells and corals and other colorful microorganisms that the water brings ashore in some areas of the beach.
In reality, pink is not as pronounced as in some pictures on the Internet, but the combination of it and the turquoise of the sea makes this place one of the most sought-after beaches in Crete.
The beach is very long, the seawater clean and transparent, and shallow, just like in Balos, which makes it also suitable for families with small children.
On the beach, you can find sunbeds set up, also at the price of 10 euros, but there are also areas where you can sit directly on the sand.
We arrived at Elafonisi quite early in the morning, on which occasion we chose sunbeds in an area where the sand on the shore was a rather pronounced pink.
And how happy we were until we realized that we didn't make the best choice. Our beautiful view of the sea immediately went to the water on Saturday because every tourist on the beach stopped to pose directly in front of us. Mno, what to do with them, that's how it is in the middle of the sea season!
In addition to sunbeds and umbrellas, on the beach, you can also find a bar (where you can buy drinks and sandwiches), showers and toilets, and parking is free, but you have to arrive on the beach before 10 o'clock to be able to use it.
5. Falasarna Beach
Falasarna was the beach we stopped on the very first day of our vacation in Crete. It was recommended by our host and being close to Kissamos, only 20 minutes by car, we couldn't say no. We wanted to see a sunset on the beach, but on the spot, we changed our minds, so after a bath we left.
Falasarna is a classic, long beach with clear water and a nice beach bar with a cool vibe. As with other beaches, you can come here to sit with a towel on the sand or you can rent beds and deckchairs. The parking lot is large and free, and I heard that the sunsets are beautiful from here.
6. Less crowded beaches of Crete: Mavros Beach
Mavros is the kind of long, classic beach with thatched umbrellas, located in Kissamos. I recommend it only if you are staying in the area. We stayed in Kissamos for two nights to be closer to the famous Balos and Elafonisi and every evening we stopped at Mavros beach for dinner and of course for the sunset.
The highlight of the beach is the Maria Beach Restaurant, located right on the seafront, which I wholeheartedly recommend. Here you will find super tasty dishes, impeccable service, and a special atmosphere.
7. The beach of Kavros
You can find it in the resort of the same name and it is a beach with big waves, where I saw the red flag raised quite often. We tested it due to its proximity to the place where we stayed in the second part of the vacation and we enjoyed spending a few hours here every evening, bathing or having dinner at a nearby tavern.
The beach is long, landscaped, and divided among the various hotels on its edge, but access is allowed everywhere. The water is clean and shallow, suitable for families with children or those who like to ride the waves.
Along it, you can find many nice resorts and hotels, but also restaurants and taverns with good food, at decent prices.
These are the 7 beaches in Crete where we relaxed and splashed during a week's holiday on the island.
Of course, there are many other great beaches in Crete that we haven't had time to test, but I feel that at some point we will go back and continue to explore them because we have enough left on the list.
If you also have a favorite beach in Crete, don't hesitate to tell us about it and tell us the reasons why you love it.
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