Situated 55km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 20km east of Ierapetra, Koutsouras lies on the primary road between Ierapetra and Makrigialos. This coastal village is nestled in a valley surrounded by pine trees, greenhouses, and olive groves, resting on the southern slopes of Mount Thripti. Despite being equipped with a police station, pharmacy, clinic, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, and more, Koutsouras maintains a serene atmosphere.
The village is bordered by beaches featuring coarse black sand and tranquil waters. The primary beach, located to the west of the village and adjacent to the old settlement, is well-maintained and dotted with tamarisk trees for shade. A secluded pebble beach near the village harbor offers a quieter option, situated 1.5km west next to the Apiganias woodland. Additionally, the family-friendly Koutsourelis beach, boasting sandy shores, lies 1km east of Koutsouras.
Sights to See
Koutsouras’ surrounding region, a heavenly landscape of Eastern Crete, is worth exploring. The southern slopes of Thripti are blanketed by a lush pine forest, providing an oasis in Lasithi’s arid landscape. Despite significant damage from a 1993 fire, the forest has gradually regenerated. The Apiganias park, 1.5km west of the village, offers a glimpse of the pine trees and also hosts cultural events. This park also marks the end of the Red Butterflies gorge, a unique canyon filled with pine trees and fresh water springs. For a complete experience, consider visiting the village Orino on Mount Thripti, which marks the starting point of the gorge.
The beaches of Maheridia by Koutsouras village are a series of three different beaches with high cliffs. These beaches are all beautiful with crystal clear water and are only accessible by boat. The only one that can be accessed from the coast is the last beach to the east, accessed through two different trails hidden in the dense piney wood. The beach is only a few meters east of the well-known woods Apiganias at Koutsouras, in an area with many pine trees.
From the main road, a very short dirt road descends to the parking area where we meet a cluster of high pine trees. From here we have beautiful panoramic views of the eastern bay of Maheridia. Maheridia is a favourite destination for locals and you will very rarely see tourists. The picturesque bays are sandy and pebbly with some scattered rocks in places. The east bay at Maheridi is calm and windless almost all the time, being ideal for families with children.
The area is full of water springs, especially in winter and spring water gushes from everywhere and after a short distance reaches the sea. At some point the water is gathered, so one can see running water even in the dry summer months.
Situated on the western side of the Makrigialos settlement, Kalamokanias is 57km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 22km east of Ierapetra. It rests on the western flank of Katovigli hill, which towers over the harbour area. The area is named Kalamokanias after the migratory stilt bird (Himantopus himantopus) – a red-legged creature resembling a miniature stork that frequents local streams.
The beach at Kalamokanias is tranquil, featuring coarse black sand that doesn’t cling to the skin. While not extensively developed, it offers some amenities including tamarisk trees for shade and a few taverns and rental rooms. Mainly frequented by locals, it provides a respite from the more tourist-heavy beach of Makrigialos.
To reach Kalamokanias from Ierapetra, make a right turn toward the sea just 100m before entering Makrigialos. Additionally, a coastal road links the beach with the local harbour.
Makrigialos, a small town nestled near the exit of Pefki canyon, is situated 58km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 23km to the east of Ierapetra. From its humble beginnings as a basic harbour in the 1950s with no connecting roads, Makrigialos has experienced considerable growth and is now the premier tourist hotspot in southeast Crete. The town is made up of two connected settlements, Makrigialos and Analipsi. There are a variety of accommodations, eateries, supermarkets, bakeries, ATMs, and medical facilities available for visitors.
Makrigialos’ growth is primarily attributed to its stunning beaches, tranquil shallow seas, and the majestic scenery of the Thripti Range to the north. The main beach, known as Makrigialos, Hani, or Long Beach, is located in Analipsi and stretches 1km. This well-maintained, narrow beach features fine golden sand and is surrounded by numerous cafes and restaurants. With its shallow, calm waters and warm temperatures even in winter, it is particularly suited for families and children.
To the west of the town beyond the port lies the lesser-known Kalamokanias beach with its unique coarse sand. North of the port in Katovigli, a small sandy beach extends from Makrigialos beach. This beach, also known as Katovigli or Limanaki, is equipped with free umbrellas and other amenities. The area is known for the ruins of a 2nd-century Roman villa, including baths and mosaics, a unique feature in eastern Crete. On the other side of the town are the two bays of Lagoufa, situated next to two large hotels.
Makrigialos is the ideal base for exploring the wider area, with its beautiful beaches stretching from Ferma to Goudouras and the surrounding villages. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy walking in the Pefki canyon or the lush Orino Gorge. In the town itself, visitors can explore local churches, the Roman Villa in Katovigli, and the Minoan villa at Plakakia, built between 1500-1450BC in the style of Minoan palaces. While nightlife is not particularly vibrant, there are several beach bars available. A leisurely walk to the Makrigialos harbour provides a picturesque view of the boats and local fishermen.
The beach known as Mavros Kolimbos or Agios Panteleimon is situated 51km southeast of Agios Nikolaos and 16km to the east of Ierapetra. This quaint coastal settlement has experienced gentle growth over recent years. The area boasts several rental accommodations and small eateries. The beach itself is a charming spot with dark grey pebbles and typically tranquil waters. Some parts of the seabed are rocky, making it perfect for snorkelling. Although the beach is not organized, there are tamarisk trees nearby that provide natural shade.
To reach Mavros Kolimbos from Ierapetra, take the main road east towards Makrigialos, which runs along Crete’s southern shoreline. Public bus services are also available to Makrigialos and can stop in the area. If you’re driving, consider stopping by the mountainous Orino village in the Thrypti Range and the Gorge of Red Butterflies. Within the settlement, pay a visit to the Agios Panteleimonas church, from which the beach derives its alternative name.