7 feb. 2015

South of Crete - Mountains, gorges and beaches

Crete is a wonderful greek island with plenty of attractions for everyone. The long sandy beaches in the north coast may be the favourites for those who like beach amenities and full-equiped resorts, but if you prefer secluded pebbly coves, head to the south. Beaches are not the only attractive of this area. You will also find mountains crossed by stunning gorges that offer infinite trekking routes. No need to mention the world known ancient Minoan cities.
A car is required to explore this region, but you have to be ready to drive along narrow twisty roads, up and down the mountains, that sometimes lead to unpaved tracks. Fortunately, you won't have to run into many other cars.


Agios Pavlos
Elafonissi

Towns

Matala was very famous in the 60s and 70s, when youngsters from all over the world made of it a Mecca of hippie culture. It still partially keeps the allure. To the west, Agia Galini is a picturesque fishing town with a moderate touristic development that includes stunning restaurants in the harbour and the beach. From there, the road winds through the mountains to quickly descend into beautiful little villages (Chora Skafion, Loutro...).
Loutro

Beaches and naturism

There is an amazing variety of beaches in southern Crete. From the astonishing pink sands of Elafonissi beach in the southwestern corner of the island, to the small cove of Mikro Amoudi. However, the most typical ones are shingle beaches at the foot of massive cliffs.

Komos
What all of them have in common is the lack of large tourist resorts. Matala or Agia Galini are the only beaches that we could call "urban", in case this term applies to those charming little towns.
In the rest of the cases, everything we can find are a few traditional "tavernas", unpaved parking areas or small rows of umbrellas.
Matala
The atmosphere is very relaxed. The difficult access to some beaches prevent them to be overcrowded and in most beaches there is at least a section where nudism is tolerated. In general, you can always find a secluded area where you can be alone and so it is up to you to keep your swimsuit or not.
Komos, Red Beach, Plakias, Agios Pavlos, Sougia... it is impossible to list here all the naturist beaches in Crete. You can read Captain Barefoot website to get the most comprehensive information on all of them.
If you want to spend the whole day in the nude, Vritomartis Naturist Resort is the only clothes optional accomodation in Crete. Not far from Chora Skafion, Filaki beach is just a few minutes away.

Archaeological sites

Of course, your holidays in Crete would not be complete without visiting the remnants of the Minoan civilisation. Don't limit to the impressive Knossos palace. The Minoan Palace of Phaistos is located in south-central Crete. And right on the doorstep of the beach, the archeological site of Komos at least deserves a look through the fence.
Komos Archaeological site
A bit less ancient, the man-made caves of Matala were carved out of the rock thousands of years ago in the steep cliffs that rise above the north side of the bay and beach.

Hiking
Samaria Gorge Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe, is the jewel of the many trekking routes in Crete. Starting in a forest at 1227 m above sea level high, the path goes down to the beach in Agia Roumeli following the river bed in the last part. At the stunning "Iron Gates", the narrowest point, you can almost touch both sides with your hands.
This is just one of the many gorges and hiking trails in Crete. From the coast to the top of its 2500 m high mountains, there are plenty of opportunities for those who like walking literally off the beaten path. Only take care of the intense heat in summer.

About the Author

Nat Biss

Author & Editor

I have dedicated most of my free time in the last years to discover the world, and beaches offer some of the most stunning landscapes on Earth. The next step was to enjoy them as naturally as possible, which obviously mean without clothes. Now I think it is time for me to share this liberating experience and try to help others to discover it.

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