The villages, historical places, local cuisine, and warm people cannot outdo the magical beaches of South Crete and the joy of feeling the sand or pebbles under your feet.
You’ve certainly heard of the heavenly Komos with their long golden sandy beaches stifling west over Kalamaki, Afrathias to Kokkinos Pyrgos. They connect to the longest beach of Crete over 8 km in length.
KALAMAKI beach connects directly to KOMOS and offers free umbrellas and loungers in front of the taverns, playgrounds for smaller children, and a lifeguard.
The natural beach of Afrathias & Pachiammos is perfect for those, who want to relax in a quiet area and enjoy nature. With just one tavern and a hand full of straw umbrellas, you can experience the enchanting atmosphere.
Since 2021 a new road leads from Kalamaki to Pachiammos / Afrathias, which will sooner or later extend to Kokkinos Pyrgos and further to Agia Galini – but give it some time!
KOKKINOS PYRGOS has a very long sandy beach with shallow water, which is organized with sun beds and umbrellas from the taverns and cafes. Because of its sheltered location and the sandy ground of the beach sections next to the pier is very popular with families. Here you can access the sea easily even on windy days.
Kokkinos Pyrgos has a second beach located behind the harbor, which is more natural and with just one tavern much more quiet.
The bay of MATALA offers a beautiful sandy beach, which is partly lined with tamarisk trees. On the right, it is bounded by the famous caves and on the left, the village stretches.
The beach is very well organized with umbrellas, toilets, showers, lifeguards, first aid measures, snack bars, and a campsite.
RED BEACH is one of the most picturesque and isolated beaches of the area, which you can reach within a 20-minute walk from Matala. Along the route, you walk on the remnants of ancient civilization and you can see fossils on the ground. The beach is characterized by the red color of the sand and its magnificent crystal clear waters.
There are three bays with are perfect for adventure lovers as they lie hidden in the rocky landscape of the Asterousia Mountains. You can reach them on an unpaved road (4×4!) or by boat.
Vathi is located at the exit of a small gorge, surrounded by long cliffs, white sand-lime walls lead to a dreamy sandy beach in a round bay, the water is calm even on windy days. A few tamarisk trees provide shade and you can hide in one of the small caves on the rocky hills. There is a small tavern-shop, better take a picnic with you.
Marzalos can be reached by a short walk down from the monastery Panagia Martsaliani. In the middle of the beach there is a primitive pier for the boats that come here from Kali Limenes or Matala. The beach is surrounded by several tamarisk trees which provide natural shade.
The beach of Agiofarango is probably the best known, in this part of the Asterousia Mountains. You can reach it through the gorge that starts directly below the Odigitrias Monastery.
The beach does not provide much shade, so it is good to bring sunscreen and, best of all, a picnic. Since 2018 there is a small Kantina at the last parking lot.
On the other hand, the South Crete also offers many bays like Red, Beach, Vathi & Agiofarango that can be reached almost only by foot, by 4×4, or by boat. The bay of Messara offers something for everyone.
The fine sandy beach of KOMOS offers endless space and a lot of peace and relaxation, where so naturist lovers feel comfortable.
You can find shadow under the tamarisk trees at the dunes, which are framing this marvelous beach. Although the beaches entice with crystal clear waters, it is partly difficult to access the sea, because of the stone plates along the shore.
One of the most stunning beaches on the southern coast of Crete is probably the lonely Triopetra each (sometimes also written as Triapetra). This extremely long and wide shore extends both west and east of the three-rock formation that gives the name to the beach.
Triopetra can be reached driving from Rethymno (it’s about a 52-km drive), through the small mountain village of Spili, worth a lunch stop as well.
From Triopetra it’s possible to reach the next beach on our list, Ligres, either walking or through a scenic semi-off road trail, with some breathtaking cliffs by the side of the road.
After Ligres, you can check the fantastic sandy beach of Katsouni, also good for naturism and complete relaxation.
Probably one of my favorite beaches in Crete is the lesser-known Ligres.
Ligres is about 5 km from Triopetra, and it’s a perfect place for complete isolation. The vast sandy beach of Ligres has deep shores perfect for submarine exploration and interesting rock formations as well as a small collection of waterfalls on one of the ends of the beach.
Since reaching the area is not simple, it still maintains a rather secluded atmosphere, with very few tourist structures. On the beach, there’s a wonderful tiny taverna serving exquisite fish and local salads
Preveli Beach is about 35 kilometers from Rethymno, and it’s located at the exit of the Kourtaliotakos Gorge. Its river, Megas Potamos or Big River, flows through the gorge to reach the sea.
The palm forest on the margins of the river has also made the beach very well-known since they add a tropical note to the landscape.
At the exit of the river, a sandy beach with pebbles and sand is formed, with seawater being very cool due to the river. In the eastern part of the beach, there is a beautiful rock reminding of a heart. The beach is not well organized because the area is protected, without any umbrellas.
If you approach the south from Rethymno, you will go through a few spectacular gorges to reach the sea. Drive through the narrow Kotisfou Gorge.
The bends of the road produce stunning landscapes, forcing you to pull over to admire the scenery all around you. There’s a wonderful church perched on the side of the mountain once you’ve passed the gorge. The whole area is really worth the drive.
There are several beaches in the area of Plakias, other than the more crowded Plakias itself. Most of them are divided by rocky promontories offering dramatic views of the sea.
Damnoni is a fantastic long beach with golden sand, clear waters, and a secluded angle for naturists. Other pretty places to spend the day include the beaches of Amoudhi and Skinaria, popular among divers for their submarine landscapes.