1. Xerokampos Beach
Xerokampos, still unspoilt, awaits those seeking tranquillity and privacy
Xerokampos is actually not really a village or a beach, but it is more like a collection of different beaches, and groups of houses, a few hotels, pensions, and a few tavernas that lie a bit scattered over the valley.
There are, crudely said, three “main beaches” and than there are several other smaller beaches in the area. On some parts of the larger beaches you can rent an umbrella, but most of the beaches are unspoilt.
Xerokambos is located in an untouched region, 48 km from Sitia, 10 km from Zakros and 28 km from Palekastro. Mountains, olive groves and the magnificent isolated beaches make up the breathtaking scenery.
Xerokambos boasts probably the finest beaches in east Crete and is ideal for those seeking peace, quiet and relaxation. Public transport stops in Zakros or Ziros, therefore anyone wanting to explore the area would need to hire a car.
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2. Chiona Beach
Chiona beach with its shallow and calm waters is ideal for families with children
The serene landscape of Chiona beach perfectly portrays the character of eastern Crete. Thin sand, shallow and calm waters, a tolerable number of sunbeds and umbrellas- just a few salt cedars- and the famous for their kakavia (fish soup) taverns.
To work on your appetite, walk over the hill west of the beach for a wonderful view and a visit to the ruins of an old fortress. For more isolation, walk to the east and discover secret coves.
Another option, in case you are an extreme sports fan, is to try windsurfing in the nearby beach of Kouremenos. Opposite of Chiona you will see the small islands Grande and while in the position Roussolakkos, just next to the beach, you can visit the remains of an ancient Minoan settlement and port.
3. Itanos Beach
At Itanos beach swimming may be combined with a visit to a Minoan site
A short drive north of the famous palm beach of Vai (in the north east of Crete, distance 2 kilometers) and the monastery of Toplou, you find the relatively isolated bays and beaches of Itanos (three of them in total, also including a rather nice and relatively quiet sandy nudist beach).
As an extra bonus there are the ruins of a Minoan city at the entrance of the main beach. Itanos was one of the most influential places in east Crete and it thrived from early Minoan to early Byzantine times.
The third beach at Itanos has the advantage of the shade of the palm-trees. At Itanos you can combine your visit to the archaeological site with a dip in the cool waters.
Keep in mind that part of the ancient city of Itanos is under water. Thus, snorkeling above the ruins, now home of fish only, can be a unique experience.
4. Vai Beach
At stunning Vai beach you get a feeling of the Caribbean in Crete
One of the most visited places in Crete is beyond doubt the Vai beach with its heavenly palm grove planted in a wide valley watered by the local river. This exotic sandy beach with whitish sand and flat turquoise waters and backed by the edenic palm forest, is reminiscent of African and Caribbean seascapes.
In the 1980s Vai was decreed a protected area and was cleaned up. Today it is considered one of the most beautiful parts of Crete and the beach has been awarded a Blue Flag by the European Union. The beach and palm forest of Vai are also fascinating for their biodiversity, as many migrating birds stop here on their voyage to and from Africa.
The entire region is owned by the powerful Toplou Monastery, which is the largest landowner in eastern Crete. The beach is organized (whatever the protection scheme allows) with umbrellas, showers, water sports, canteens and a tavern. You can also try watersports at Vai, including banana boat, jet-skiing and wakeboarding. Keep in mind that the closest rooms to let, hotels or villas to rent, are located outside the protected area (15′-25 ‘walk).
5. Kouremenos Beach
Kouremenos beach is ideal for everyone
Kouremenos beach located 21 Km east of SitEa and very close to Chiona beach IT is a famous destination for both action lovers and families. You can get there by car or even on foot if you accommodate yourself in Palakastro where it is 1 Km to the west.
It is a long sandy beach with many tamarisk trees and clear blue waters. The waters are shallow, ideal for children. In the southern part of the beach there are many windsurfing schools where you can have lessons or rent your gear, since kouremenos is the most appropriate beach for windsurfing. The wind here is intense, therefore it is one of the most amazing places for windsurfers in Europe.
As you walk to the north of the beach you’ll find many families enjoying their swim in the beautiful waters. You can also find some cafeS and restaurants right on the road. Even if you are an adrenaline loving person or you like a relaxed swim, be sure that Kouremenos beach will satisfy your needs.