Koudoumas monastery is located at the exit of Katarraktis gorge in Asterousia Mountains and is one of the most secluded monasteries of Crete. There is a safe 24km long dirt road that starts from the village Sternes (accessible from Charakas), at an altitude of 1000m near the peak Kofinas (1231m). During the descent to the sea level the views to the sea are amazing (and frightening too) as the cliffs cause vertigo! Along the road you will see the pine grove of Koudoumas and many goats standing on the bare sharp rocks.
Also you can approach the monastery Koudoumas from Agios Ioannis by Kapetaniana, which offers you an easy path though a wild and indescribably beautiful side of Crete with amazing views. The coastal walk will take you to the beautiful cave church of Agios Antonios and the Monastery of Koudoumas. You can have a refreshing bath at the lonesome beach of Koudoumas or just visit the monastery - a beautiful quiet monastery with very friendly monks
If you arrive at noon, you will be invited to have supper with them, meanwhile it is not served in the monastery directly anymore, but in an outside building.
The monastery was built in the late 19th century as a male priory, in the ruins of an older monastery which was abandoned because of pirate raids. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and celebrates every year on August 15th where a great number of believers come for pilgrimage.
Since the Koudoumas Monastery is dedicated to the Virgin, it celebrates on 15 August and many of people descend on the monastery the previous day and stay overnight in the guestrooms and on the beach.
The monks offer accommodation to anyone for the night, they have small guest rooms where they have all the basic amenities (kitchen, water, bath).
Another great festival of Koudoumas Monastery is on 10 July, the feast-day of Saints Eumenios and Parthenios, the monks who built the monastery in the 19th century.
The hike from the canyon of Elygia to the Cave of Agios Antonios is an experience not to be missed! The landscape is rocky, but in unexpected spots green pines spring up while unspoilt little bays with emerald waters are constantly revealed. After about half an hour hiking you will see the impressive opening of Agios Antonios cave. Inside the cave you will see the small chapel and large carved basins with fresh, cool water. The view from the cave to the Libyan sea is breathtaking.
From this point on, should you wish to continue hiking, by returning back to the junction, take the path that reaches up to the monastery of Koudoumas.
The area of Koudoumas is suitable for the lovers of nature and especially for those who love camping, swimming in non- organized beaches and hiking.