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The Ten Best Beaches on Crete

by Mike Gerrard

Collage of Crete Beaches

Collage of Crete Beaches

Crete is the biggest of the Greek islands and has some of the best beaches, from quiet coves where you can sunbathe in privacy to huge stretches of sand that are always busy.

Crete is by far the biggest of the Greek islands, 155 miles (250 kms) from east to west, and ranges between 9 miles (14 kms) and 37 miles (60 kms) between the north and south coasts. The sheer size of the island means that there is plenty of choice of everything, from unspoiled mountain villages to busy beach resorts. Before booking your holiday on Crete, check where the best Crete beaches are.

It's worth remembering a few simple things. The busiest resorts are closest to the airport in Iraklion, the capital. Some of these, like Malia and Hersonnisos, are real party towns so head there if you like nightlife, keep away if you like peace and quiet. The south coast is quieter, but the island is quite narrow so it doesn't really take too long to reach the resorts there from the airport.

The south coast also faces north Africa, and in summer it will certainly feel like it! It's easier to get around on the north coast because it's flat and there's a good fast coastal road. In the south it takes longer because it's more mountainous, and you often have to go inland first, to get to the next town along the coast.

Bearing all that in mind, here is a personal Top Ten of the best Crete Beaches, in strictly alphabetical order.

Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi Beach on Crete in Greece

In the far south-west of Crete, Elafonisi Beach is part of a tropical-like lagoon, with pinkish sand and the chance to wade out to small islands, or large sand bars. Despite the fairly lengthy drive to get to it, it's very popular and there are a few snack bars selling refreshments.

Falasarna Beach

In the quieter north-west part of Crete, where fewer tourists venture, Falasarna is a huge sweep of sandy beach where you can usually find space to yourself.


Popular for a day out because of its huge fortress, if you come here you should also allow time to enjoy the long stretches of sandy beach. The waters are very pure and clear here, so it's great if you're into snorkeling. Frangokastello is on the south coast, in the eastern half of the island.


On the north coast, partway between Chania
and Rethymno, this is an ideal spot if you want to mix beach days with visiting those two fascinating and beautiful towns. The beach at Georgioupoli runs for several miles, and is very popular with Greek families from Rethymno and Chania.


In the southeast of Crete there are far fewer visitors, apart from at a handful of resorts like the lovely Makriyialos. It has the longest beach in this part of the island, and the fact that it is a bit of a drive from the airport at Iraklion means it's quieter too. The shallow waters make it a good family beach choice.


Plakias Beach on Crete in Greece

Close to Preveli Beach (see next entry) Plakias has a lovely beach but the resort is growing and the beach can get very busy. If that's not your scene, walk or take a boat to nearby Damnoni, where the beach is even better and not nearly as busy.

Preveli Beach

Preveli Beach is on the south coast, almost directly south from Rethymno. It's easy to combine this with a visit to the popular Moni Preveli monastery, though it's a steep walk down to the beach. It's only a small beach but in a beautiful palm-fringed day, and is best out-of-season as in summer it is always busy with boat trips.


Close to Chania at the end of the Akrotiri peninsula, Stavros is famous because the end scenes of Zorba the Greek were filmed here. The sandy beach is in a lovely bay, and because it's a bit out of the way it doesn't get as busy as many north coast beaches.

Sweetwater Beach

Close to Chora Sfakion on the south coast, Sweetwater Beach is as lovely as it sounds, with fresh water springs nearby keeping the water clean. You might have to share the beach with people who camp in the idyllic area, and it's a great place for nude sunbathing and swimming.

Vai Beach

Vai Beach on the Island of Crete in Greece

The palm-fringed Vai Beach is in the north-east corner of Crete and is one of the most beautiful but also the most popular on the island. It's sometimes called Palm Beach, and it looks more like north Africa than the Greek islands. It's probably the most famous beach on Crete.

Mike Gerrard is the author of the National Geographic Traveler: Greece and publisher of the Greece Travel Secrets website: www.Greece-Travel-Secrets.com.

Read about the Best Things to Do on Crete: Best Things to Do on Crete

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