Crete – the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean and Greece’s largest – is (justly) famed for its beautiful coastline fringed by mirror-clear seas: from endless swathes of sand framed by lofty dunes and tiny, difficult-to-reach coves, to busy resorts where cocktails are served to sunbeds and tropical havens with palm trees and cool river lagoons, the big islandhas a beach to suit every taste. Beaches are clean, and many have been awarded the Blue Flag which guarantees certain facilities, including showers and toilets. Watch out for strong currents when the weather’s bad – never, ever swim if there’s a red flag flying. We’ve listed our top-5 favorites beach resorts. The most popular beach resorts of Crete are scattered all over the wonderful Greek Island of Crete.

Elafonissi beach

Elafonissi is a spectacular beach, located a couple of hours’ drive from the popular tourist city of Chania. This famous white and pink sand beach is noted for the pink crushed seashells that line the shore, giving it a slight tinge of rose color that contrasts beautifully with the turquoise glow of the sea. Divided by a narrow strip of sand are two shallow lagoons, ideal for wading and floating about. The sand here is soft, unlike many of the pebble beaches so common in the Mediterranean Sea. Be forewarned that it can be extremely windy at Elafonissi, so be sure to check the wind forecast prior to going to ensure you are able to enjoy your day.

Vai Beach (Palm Beach)

You may think you are driving to the end of the world as you make the trek to Vai but it will be worth the effort. Set at the very easternmost area of Crete, this beach has one of Europe’s largest palm groves, reputed to have over 5,000 trees. Only “discovered” in the mid-1970s when a Bounty chocolate bar television commercial was shot here, the beach is completely undeveloped; the only exceptions are sun beds and umbrellas. Clear water, soft sand, and unending views out over the sea will make the long journey worthwhile. You can choose to sit out in the sun on the main beach or find your perfect spot underneath one of the palm trees farther back.


This is one of the most popular tourist beaches on the south coast of Crete. Set in an inlet facing the Libyan Sea, the beach at Matala is famous for the caves at one end of the shore, which were inhabited by hippies in the 1960s, including singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. The hippies are long gone, but the allure of what drew them here remains. The long and wide beach here is made up of small pebbles and soft sand. Umbrellas and beach chairs run the full length of the beach, but you are welcome to set up your own equipment. Matala is also a great spot for snorkeling. Matala is a popular day trip from Heraklion. The road over the mountains between Heraklion and Matala is incredibly scenic, and the drive takes a little over an hour. The left side of the bay is made up of numerous restaurants perched on the higher ground offering fantastic views. In behind them is a street lined with shops selling all kinds of clothing and souvenirs. Parking here can be tricky. There is one small lot immediately behind the beach, and it fills up fast. Street parking is available back from the beach. The beach at Falasarna is a huge beach on the west coast of Crete in the prefecture of Chania. It is considered the most beautiful in Crete and is included in the top 10 beaches in Europe, it has wonderful white fine sand and warm, crystal clear waters. The area of ​​Falasarna has a great variety of flora and fauna, but also a special natural beauty. Therefore, is a protected Natura 2000 plan area. The southern part of the beach is Pachia Ammos. Fully organized, with umbrellas and sunbeds, and gathers a large number of visitors. Of course, due to the size, there are also quieter pieces where you can lie on your towel away from the crowds.


The view down to Preveli Beach with the deep blue Libyan Sea in the background is nothing short of spectacular. Just a glimpse will make you think that the steep descent down a stone walkway will be worth the effort—and you will be right. If you aren’t up for the walk, you can always take a boat from Plakias. The beach is set between two steep hills and has a freshwater stream flowing through the center. Just back from the beach, you’ll find palm trees, which creates the feeling of a green oasis in an otherwise dry area. There are no chairs or umbrellas for rent here, so come prepared. The water is clear, but note that the beach is made up of pebbles. The walk up and down is not to be underestimated. It is rocky, and in some areas stone stairs are in place. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended, and be sure to keep some water in reserve, as going back up in the blazing afternoon sun can be sweaty work. In car just follow the signs to the Preveli Monastery, as you get close, the road splits to the left down to a large carpark on the top of a hill. The trail down starts from here. If you are only interested in a glimpse from above, walk to the top end of the parking area and just beyond for views down over the beach. glimpse from above, walk to the top end of the parking area and just beyond for views down over the beach.