Situated 36km to the south of Rethymno city, Plakias is a charming tourist haven nestled at the mouth of a fertile valley just beyond the Kouroupa range, where the Kotsifos river meets the sea. It owes much of its popularity to the impressive Gialia beach, stretching for 1.3km from the edge of the town to the east, ending at Cape Mouri. This fully-equipped beach, characterized by its crystal-clear, cool waters, is an ideal location for leisurely walks or cycling along the adjacent road. It features numerous hotels and restaurants, as well as beach essentials such as umbrellas, water sports facilities, beach volley courts, snack bars, changing rooms, and showers.
Paligremnos, the eastern portion of the beach, boasts fine sandy shores and is well-appointed with various amenities close to local accommodation and eateries. Noteworthy are the tall, vertical cliffs nearby that prove to be a magnet for climbing enthusiasts. This spot, also known as “Gonates” (knees), is steeped in local lore; it’s said that the epic hero Digenis knelt here to drink from a local spring. An intriguing phenomenon takes place here every full moon from September to January, as the moon’s reflection on the sheer cliffs draws large squids to the beach, which locals catch with long sticks. A few meters south of Paligremnos, you can also discover tunnels once used for transporting coal to waiting cargo ships.
Situated 35km south of Rethymnon and 5km east of Plakias on Crete island, Damnoni beach is a well-known tourist destination. The resort is fully developed and well-structured, featuring a wide bay with turquoise waters and coarse, whitish sand. Visitors can enjoy numerous facilities including umbrellas, snack bars, showers, changing rooms, and water sports. Additionally, there’s a scuba diving centre, top-notch hotels, restaurants, and a horse-riding centre.
The westernmost part of the beach, which is highly organized, is home to a small river that maintains water nearly all year round. The eastern end of the beach is more serene and connects to the neighbouring Ammoudakii beaches via a short unpaved road. Beyond the western end of the beach, you’ll find several secluded small coves with sand and rocks, located right next to the area’s small harbour.
Located 32km south of Rethymno and 4km east of Plakias, you’ll find the beach complex of Ammoudi. Access is available via a paved road from the village of Lefkogia. This road leads you directly to the first beach, Ammoudi, recognizable by its distinctive green slippery rock. The beach has a slight organization, with available amenities such as umbrellas, nearby taverns and rooms, and even a scuba diving centre. Its thick white sand, rocky seabed, and bright green waters make it ideal for diving and snorkelling. There’s also the option to find shade and camp under the many tamarisk trees located next to the beach.
Heading west from Ammoudi, a dirt road begins that will take you towards Damnoni, passing by towering cliffs and impressive rocks. Just 200m west of Ammoudi, along this dirt road, you’ll discover a parking plateau that offers an unrestricted view of Damnoni. Here, you’ll see an enchanting miniature sandy beach, featuring turquoise waters and a unique rock in the sea. Known as Klisidi, this beach is an attractive choice when not crowded, though this is rare during peak season.
Adjacent to Klisidi, you’ll encounter the stunning nudist beach of Small Ammoudi or Ammoudaki. This small beach is popular among nudists for its turquoise waters and exceptional white coarse sand. It also has a small canteen offering umbrellas and sunbeds. On the beach’s west side, you can swim in a marine cave, where the sunlight turns the water a vibrant blue. You can easily walk on the sandy seabed. There’s also an underwater hole connecting Ammoudaki with Klisidi, allowing you to travel between the two beaches with just a dive. If you wish to reach the Ammoudi beaches on foot, simply walk east of Damnoni until you reach Ammoudaki.
The Kalypso Beach also known as the Pirates’ Fjord is located 33km south of Rethymno, near Plakias. Tucked away in a tiny inlet just south of Mouri or Karavos Cape, this beach is ensconced between towering vertical cliffs. The compact beachfront, starting with a small stretch of sand that quickly transitions to a deep, rocky port, extends no more than 2 meters in width. This secretive cove once served as a refuge for pirates during the Byzantine era, hence its nickname.
Fast forward to today, and you won’t find pirates, but rather a contemporary hotel that shapes the parameters of the “beach.” The hotel has strategically placed loungers and umbrellas on the surrounding smooth rocks, creating a unique sunbathing experience. The Kalypso Beach area also offers opportunities for water activities like scuba diving lessons, courtesy of the onsite diving club, and water pedalo rides. Access to this picturesque beach is through the hotel (via Damnoni) or by a boat trip from Plakias.
The crystal-clear waters of Kalypso beach offer a startling view of the vibrant seabed from above. Every tiny detail of the sea floor is visible, reflecting a mesmerizing underwater world. The water’s hue oscillates from profound blue to a lush blue-green, changing with the depth. The seabed teems with life, making it a perfect spot for snorkelling.
This renowned beach attracts a multitude of visitors, eager to capture the stunning landscape in photographs and plunge into the remarkable bay. Undeniably, the Kalypso beach ranks among Crete’s finest beaches for swimming and snorkelling.
Located 33km south of Rethymno and 3km south of the village of Lefkogia on Crete Island, you’ll find the small, serene beach of Skinaria (or Shinaria). The beach is situated in the eastern part of the broader Plakias area. Skinaria boasts soft, grey-beige sand and fine pebbles, complemented by the crystal blue depths of the sea. The sea bed is primarily rocky, though the northern part of the beach features sandy terrain.
The area is teeming with life, both terrestrial and marine. Freshwater ponds dot the beach, fed by springs from the Kouroupa mountain. These ponds have fostered lush vegetation around them, giving the area a tropical landscape feel. The local inhabitants claim that the marine life is as vibrant as the terrestrial, and indeed, Skinaria’s seabed is one of the richest on the island. It is home to an abundance of marine creatures, including huge morays, blackfish, and octopuses. Furthermore, the water’s clarity is remarkable, often exceeding 40m horizontally, making it a popular spot for scuba diving centres in Crete.
The beach offers minimal organization, with a local tavern providing a few umbrellas and refreshments. On our last visit, umbrellas and sunbeds were complimentary with a refreshment purchase. Access to the beach is via a narrow, 2km road that begins in Lefkogia. Along the way, an awe-inspiring cylindrical cave can be spotted within a rock on your left.