CRETE Beaches

Crete beaches are some of the best in Greece. In fact, some are world class in terms of scenery, sand, and water quality. The entire island is ringed with beaches, so no matter where you choose to stay, you will be within a short drive from an enjoyable swim spot. This is not an exhaustive list. We include here only the beaches we visited in person. 

Agia Galini Beach

Agia Galini beach view
View of Agia Galini beach in southern Retnymno, Crete.
  • Name: Agia Galini (Αγία Γαλήνη)
  • Location: Heraklion, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 1/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 1/6
  • Beach Berm: Shingle
  • Seafloor: Shingle and rocks
  • Access: Good: paver road and parking near the beach
  • Amenities: Agia Galini is an organized beach with parasols and sun beds. You will find hotels, restaurants, and bars right on the beach, and the town is within walking distance.
  • Notes: There are two beaches in the town of Agia Galini separated by a river: Agia Galini and Limenes. Both are fine to swim, but you will find other more spectacular choices nearby. Matala, and Komos beaches are within short driving distance. Both would be a more memorable swimming experience.

Balos Beach

Balos beach panoramic view
The spectacular Balos beach is one of the best beaches in Greece.
  • Name: Balos beach (Μπάλος)
  • Location: Chania, northwest Crete, Greece
    Click here to see Balos beach on the map and to get directions
  • Our Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Our Rating of What the Water Feels Like: 5/5

We have rated Balos as one of the top-ten beaches in Greece, so it has it’s own dedicated page. Click here to read more about Balos beach.

Belegrina Beach

Belegrina beach
Belegrina beach in Chrysi island
  • Name: Belegrina Beach (Μπελεγκρίνα)
  • Location: Chrysi island, South of Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 5/5

We have rated Belegrina with 5/5, so it has it’s own dedicated page.

Click here to read more about Belegrina beach.

Chersonissos Beaches

Hersonnisos beaches
The coast around Hersonissos, Crete, manages to maintain its beauty despite the huge crowds and rampant development.

Hersonisos is a lively holiday spot, popular with young people looking for vigorous nightlife combined with decent beaches.

  • Name: Hersonisos or Chersonissos Beaches  (Χερσόνησος)
  • Location: Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 3/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 4/5
  • Beach Berm: Most beaches of Chersonissos are lined with soft round sand, while a few swim spots consist of large smooth rocky platforms at the edge of the surf.
  • Seafloor: The seafloor is mostly soft sand slopping gently under the surf, so most beaches are comfortable for small children.
  • Access: Paved roads will bring you close to the beach. Parking near the beaches might be hard to find in the summer.
  • Amenities: Bars, restaurants, and the entire city is within walking distance. Most swimming spots around Hersonisos are organized with parasols and sun beds for hire.
  • Water Sports: If water-sports are your desire, there are lots of water-sport choices. Star Beach has the lion share of them where water-sports have taken over good part of the tiny beach.
  • Notes
    Wild construction development has transformed what was probably agricultural fields and some beautiful beaches into a kitsch festival of loud signs and venues for low-budget package tourism.

The majority of Greeks consider Hersonisos to be a perfect example of how package tourism has altered the Greek character of an entire area. To add insult to injury, when you mention Hersonisos to any Greek, all they can think of is the wild news stories of inebriated foreign youth in embarrassing trouble. Suffice to say that Hersonisos is not on the vacation list of the vast majority of Greeks.

What Greeks think of Hersonisos however has no effect on the multitude of Europeans who flock to the spot to enjoy swimming by day and partying all night. If that’s what you are looking for, Hersonisos is the perfect place to drink, party, and search for fleeting or lasting relationships.

There are several beaches in the area in close walking proximity to each other. They are often separated by a rocky headland, so we decided to combine them all in one page here instead of creating a different report for every little beach. Besides, if you choose Chersonissos for your holiday, you will visit a few of them anyway.

The vast majority of the beaches are organized with parasols and beach beds (for a price of course). What in most beaches would be a drawback (crowding), is probably an asset for those who look for a crowd at the beach.

All in all, Chersonissos has nice beaches that tend to be overcrowded and busy. There are several little coves and rocky platforms where one can find some solitude and many hotels have their own swimming pools. While the area has a reputation for partying and night-life, during the day the town feels just like any other busy holiday resort in Greece.

Chiona Beach

Chiona beach
Panoramic view of China beach in eastern Lasithi, Crete, Greece
  • Name: Chiona Beach (Xιώνα)
  • Location: Lasithi, Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 3/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like)4/5
  • Beach Berm: Sand and shingle
  • Seafloor: Sand, shingle, and rocks in different spots around the beach
  • Access: A paved road will bring you close to the beach. Parking on the edge is comfortable.
  • Amenities: There are a few restaurants and bars near the beach.
  • Snorkeling: The southern end of the beach is rocky with decent sea life to keep your snorkeling experience interesting.
  • Notes: Chiona is a very nice beach with a very gentle sandy slope.Chiona beach is located within walking distance from the Palaikastro (Rousolakos) archaeological site. Admission to the site is free and you can be easily navigated in about half hour. Most of the artifacts found at Rousolakos are exhibited at the Sitia Archaeological Museum. Several low trees provide shade for bathers and parked cars. At the southern end of the beach there are the scant remains of an ancient temple.

Diasari Beach

Diasari beach view
Diasari beach, near Makrygialos, Lasithi, Crete, Greece
  • Name: Diasari beach (Διασάρι)
  • Location: Lasithi, Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 3/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 3/5
  • Beach Berm: Sand and shingle
  • Seafloor: Sand and rocks in spots
  • Access: Good access. A paved road leads to the west end of the beach where there is ample parking.
  • Amenities: There is a restaurant at the west end of Diasari beach
  • Notes:  Diasari is a nice beach that never gets crowded. Most people in the area swim near their hotels in Makry Gialos nearby resort town, so Diasari has ample space to enjoy swimming in peace and quiet.

Elafonisi Beach

Elafonissos beach
Elafonisos beach, in the western coast of Crete.
  • Name: Elafonisi beach (Ελαφονήσι)
  • Location: Chania, western Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 5/5

Elafonisi is as nice a beach as you will ever find around the world. We have rated it as one of the top-ten beaches in Greece, so it has it’s own page.

Read more about Elafonisi beach

Erimoupolis Beach

Picture of Erimoupolis beach
Erimoupolis beach in eastern Crete is one of the best in the island
  • Name: Erimoupolis beach (Ερημούπολις)
  • Location: Eastern Lasithi, Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 4/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 5/5
  • Beach Berm: Shingle, sand and rocks
  • Seafloor: Shingle, sand and rocks
  • Access: The rural paved road will bring you close to the beach, but you have to park near the archaeological site, and then walk over the headland for about 5 minutes on a rough foot path (not too difficult) to reach the beach.
  • Amenities: There is nothing in the area, and the nearest shop is about ten minutes away by car, so bring your own parasols, food, and water.
  • Water Sports: 
  • Snorkeling: Erimoupolis is a very good snorkeling site, especially on the northern end.

Notes: Erimoupolis is one of the best beaches in eastern Crete. It is nicely secluded, with perfect water.

Erimoupolis beach and the surrounding area is sparsely populated during weekdays but it can get crowded during the weekends in July and August.

You will find the nearest restaurants/bars a ten minute drive south at Vai beach.There is another beach to the visible to the south of the headland as you approach the coast from the parking lot. The two beaches are separated by a smaller one where few people swim.

The best swim spot is the one to your left as you face the coast.You can walk up the hill to see the ancient site of Itanos (admission free), but there is not much to see besides some obscure building foundations of a Byzantine basilica.

The view from up there is worth the climb.If you look closely enough, you will notice that the ancient stones protrute from under the rocks all the way down to the beach directly south of the Basilica ruins. The excavations of the cemetery on the hill to the left of the parking lot as you are looking towards the ocean are also worth a visit.

Falasarna Beach

Falasarna beach, Western Crete
One of the best beaches in Greece, Falasarna (or Phalasarna) sandy berm offers ample space to never feel crowded.
  • Name: Falasarna, or Falassarna beach (Φαλάσαρνα)
  • Location: Western Chania, Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like)5/5

We rate Falasarna with the maximum 5/5, so it has it’s own page.

Read more about Falasarna beach

Kouremenos Beach

View of Kouremenos beach
Kouremenos beach, Lasithi, Crete, Greece.
  • Name: Kouremenos beach (Κουρεμένος)
  • Location: Lasithi, eastern Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 2/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like)3/5
  • Beach Berm and sealer: Some parts are lined with sand, some with shingle
  • Access: Kouremenos is an easy beach to get to. The paved road to the beache is good. You may park under one of the trees that line the beach to keep it cool.
  • Amenities: You will find several restaurants on the road that lines the beach.
  • Notes: Kouremenos beach gets very windy, so it’s a favorite spot for windsurfing. A plethora of RVs, campers, and tents crowd the southern end of the beach.

Makrigialos Beach

Makrigialos beach
View of Makrigialos beach.
  • Name: Makrigialos beach (Μακρύ Γιαλός)
  • Location: Southern Lasithi, Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 2/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like)3/5
  • Beach Berm and Seafloor: Sand
  • Access: The paved road will take you to the small resort town of Makri Gialos where you can park.
  • Amenities: The town is within walking distance from the different sandy patches that line the town.
  • Notes: Makrigialos is lined with soft sand and it slopes gently so it’s a great place for families with small children.

Matala Beach

Matala beach
Matala is a very popular beach in the southern coast of Crete. The caves on the limestone cliff are Roman-era graves.
  • Name: Matala beach (Μάταλα)
  • Location: Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 2/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like)1/5
  • Beach Berm and Seafloor: Shingle
  • Access: The rural paved road will bring you to the small town of Matala where you have to park and walk through the town to get to the beach.
  • Amenities: The town is within walking distance where you will find plenty of restaurants and shops.
  • Notes: Matala beach is famous for the caves that were carved in ancient times   to act as tombs. The caves/tombs are empty today, and are protected as a fenced archaeological site with entrance fee.In the 1960’s Matala was so isolated, it was as if you reached the end of the earth. As such, it became a world-famous commune for hippies who lived in the caves.Today, Matala owes it’s popularity more on the caves and its reputation, than the quality of the beach itself. It gets way too crowded in the summer months, and the whole town feels like a low-budget tourist trap.

Maridati Beach

View of Maridati beach
Maridati beach in eastern Crete, Greece.
  • Name: Maridati beach (Μαριδάτη)
  • Location: Eastern Crete, Lasithi, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 3/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 5/5
  • Beach Berm: Shingle
  • Seafloor: Shingle, rocks
  • Access: Fair. You can drive your car all the way to the beach, albeit you have to negotiate a dirt road for the last kilometer
  • Amenities: Restaurant on the beach
  • Snorkeling: Maridati is a good snorkeling beach, so bring your flippers and mask.
  • Notes: Maridati beach is a beautiful and nearly-deserted cove just south of the famous Vai beach in Crete’s east coast. Being in the shadow of the more famous beaches of the area, Maridati is less known and less crowded. The waters are cooler than the rest other beaches around.

Psili Ammos Beach

Psili Ammos beach in Vai, Crete
Psilli Ammos beach is just over the southern headland of Vai beach, but it is completely secluded.
  • Name: Psili Ammos beach (Ψιλή Άμμος)
  • Location: Lasithi, eastern Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 5/5

We rate Psili Ammos with our highest rating (5/5), so it has its own page.

Click here to read more about Psili Ammos.

Sitia Town Beach

View of Sitia beach
Sitia beach is within walking distance from the town
  • Name: Sitia Beach (Σητεία)
  • Location: Sitia, eastern Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 2/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 2/5
  • Beach Berm: Sand or shingle in different spots
  • Seafloor: Sand and shingle
  • Access: Good. A paved road runs parallel to the beach
  • Amenities: Sitia town is within walking distance of the northern end of the beach. Farther south, amenities get more sparse

Notes: Sitia is a nice town and the beach is within walking distance. Sitia beach is very long. It only gets crowded near the harbor, but if you walk a few minutes out of town you will find plenty of space in the sand to call your own.

With a car or moped, you can drive 25 minutes to the east coast of Crete where you will find some of the best beaches in Greece. The north coast beyond Sitia and until you reach the east coast has no beaches worth mentioning.

Vai Beach

Vat beach in eastern Crete
Vat beach is adjacent to the only natural palm forest in Crete. It’s one of the best beaches of Greece.
  • Name: Vai Beach (Βάι)
  • Location: Lasithi, eastern Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 4/5

We have rated Vai beach with 5, which is our highest rating, so it has it’s own page.

Click here to read more about Vai Beach

Xerokampos Beach

Xerokampos beach, Crete
Xerokampos has several secluded coves a short hike away from the main beach. This one is to the south.
  • Name: Xerokampos beach (Ξερόκαμπος)
  • Location: Lasithi, southeast Crete, Greece
    Click here to see it on the map and to get directions
  • Overall Rating: 4/5
  • Joy Index (What the Water Felt Like): 5/5
  • Beach Berm: There are many coves in the surrounding area. Most are lined with soft sand.
  • Seafloor: Sand, shingle, and rocks, depending on the spot you choose.
  • Access: Good. There is a paved road all the way to the beaches. There are a few coves where you can only reach by walking (on the south end). 
  • Amenities: You will find a restaurant that is open during the summer on the main beach.

Notes: The drive to Xerokampos is spectacular after the town of Ziros. The little town of Xerokampos is mostly a collection of summer homes.

There are several beaches in the area, most the golden fine sand variety.

Our reader, Michael D., reported that “The town beach is wonderful, but if you walk a bit to the north, you find sheer perfection. There are also little natural niches perfect for a couple wanting some privacy. Highly recommended as a honeymoon destination for couples into each other, not entertainment.”