Commencing 11km east of Rethymno and extending 3km eastward is the Skaleta beachfront, marking the end of the expansive beach of the Bay of Rethymno. The first resort you encounter after Pighianos Kampos is Sfakaki, which is exceptionally well arranged.
Stavromenos beach is the next stop, just 1km away, named after the area’s synonymous settlement. The beaches here are predominantly sandy and meticulously organized, with spots featuring pebbles and tiny rocks. As you journey eastward, the sandy stretch narrows down and gradually fades until it vanishes at the end of the Rethymno Gulf.
Continuing another 1km, you will reach the final segment of the immense East Rethymnon beachfront, Skaleta. Like all beaches on the north coast, Skaleta beachfront is exposed to the winds and typically experiences waves. The surrounding area has seen considerable development in recent years, now abounding with large hotels and tourist facilities. Regular bus services are available from Rethymno to Sfakaki, Stavromenos, and Skaleta.
From May to September, summer nights bring an extraordinary sight as loggerhead sea turtles lay their eggs in the Gulf’s sand. It’s not uncommon to see small areas of the beach cordoned off and inaccessible to visitors where nests have been spotted.
Spilies, also known as “Tou Maliou to Riaki” or Maliou stream, is a hidden gem located 15km to the east of Rethymnon city. Nestled between Skaleta and Geropotamos, the area is serene and tranquil, despite its proximity to the main highway that links Heraklion and Rethymno.
This hidden paradise is nestled in a small rocky bay, boasting of a pebbly beach with crystal clear and deep waters, shielded by towering cliffs. The defining feature of the cove is the stunning cavernous rocks that shelter the small beach from the west. Beyond the western and eastern ends of the beach, several sea caves and rock formations with extraordinary shapes adorn the landscape. Unfortunately, a portion of the eastern caves collapsed in the winter of 2011-12. These caves serve as crucial habitats for endangered species like the Mediterranean monk seal.
For an adventurous day, explore the rocky shores east of the beach, leading to the remarkable natural rocky arch of Geropotamos.
The beach provides basic amenities such as umbrellas, beds, and a small canteen. However, be wary of waves, which are a common occurrence due to the northern winds.
To reach the beach from Rethymnon, take the main road to Heraklion. After passing Skaleta, you’ll spot “Creta Farm”, followed by two gas stations on either side of the road. A short path to the beach begins behind the gas station on your left, marked by a sign to Spilies (ΣΠΗΛΙΕΣ). To avoid a left turn on the national road, it’s recommended to enter the station on your right and then turn back towards Rethymno.
Pigianos Kambos, also known as Pigi beach, is situated 8km to the east of Rethymno, centrally positioned along Rethymno Bay’s extensive beach. The name, Pigianos Kambos, translates to “Plane of Pigi” from Greek, reflecting the fertile fields that belong to the inhabitants of the nearby Pigi village. Today, Pigianos Kambos serves as a coastal tourist destination, albeit less developed than its neighbor, Adelianos Kambos. The area boasts a variety of accommodations, from apartments and rooms to larger hotels, complemented by multiple dining, entertainment, and shopping options.
The beach in Pigianos Kambos offers a peaceful and quieter atmosphere compared to the other beaches in Rethymnon. Between Pigianos Kambos and Stavromenos, visitors can enjoy swimming and snorkelling in the numerous small, rocky coves. A unique feature of Pigianos Kambos is the opportunity to spot protected sea turtle nests, as these creatures choose this sandy beach to lay their eggs.
Regular bus services from the center of Rethymnon make Pigianos Kambos easily accessible.
Geropotamos, situated approximately 18km east of Rethymnon and 3km west of Panormo, is named after the eponymous river that empties into the eastern end of the beach. The beach, though small, is marked by its sandy terrain and crystal-clear, cool water, a result of the river that runs throughout the year, forming a small lake near the shore. The beach is minimally organized with umbrellas and a canteen that provides refreshments, coffee, water, and some basic food supplies. A luxurious hotel is also located adjacent to the river. Although easily accessible, the beach remains quiet and uncrowded. However, the orientation of the shore makes it susceptible to northern winds.
Geropotamos’ location on the main road connecting Heraklion and Rethymno makes it easily accessible. You can even reach it by bus by asking the driver to stop at Geropotamos. The area’s importance is underscored by its status as a natural shelter for rare birds and animals, courtesy of the Waterland. West of Geropotamos, the shore is riddled with cavities, home to the rare monk seals (Monachus monachus) and falcons.
A few meters west of Geropotamos beach, you’ll find an extraordinary rocky arch known as Kamara. Beneath Kamara, there lies a small beach with sand, small pebbles, and crystal blue waters. The beach’s size makes it vulnerable to north winds, with waves almost covering it. However, on calm sea days, it is truly beautiful. The beach, surrounded by vertical cliffs that provide natural shade, is only accessible by boat. A fun activity on windless days is to swim from Geropotamos and snorkel en route.
Cape Lianos, the eastern end of Geropotamos beach, also known as the Lavris area, is a rocky cape with a luxury hotel built on it. In front of the hotel, there are some small artificial coves with piers protecting them from waves. Although they appear private, you can reach the coves via a footpath that begins near the Geropotamos beach and heads eastwards, even if you’re not a hotel guest.
The Lianos Cape area, along with the Geropotamos wetland, is protected under the European program “Natura 2000”. It is home to a variety of reptiles, birds, turtles, amphibians, mammals, and plants, some of which are indigenous or endangered.
Adelianos Kambos, also known as Adele Beach, is a seaside suburb of Rethymnon situated 6km to the east on a flat plain. This area, previously used for vegetable cultivation by residents of the adjoining village Adele, has seen considerable development over the past century, becoming an integral part of Rethymnon city. Access to Adelianos Kambos is straightforward, with local buses running regularly from the city centre.
The extensive sandy stretch of Rethymnon Gulf beach begins at Adelianos Kambos and continues to Skaleta. The suburb offers a variety of accommodation options, from large hotels to smaller establishments, and plenty of choices for dining, shopping, and entertainment. The beach is well-equipped with amenities like umbrellas, lifeguards, changing rooms, showers and bars, making it a popular spot for beach sports and water activities. The sea here is typically shallow but can be wavy, a characteristic of all open beaches on the northern side of Crete. An interesting feature of this beach is the sea turtles that lay their eggs here, leading to the occasional sight of marked nests protected by ropes and signboards.