Situated 64km east of Agios Nikolaos, Sitia is the furthest city to the east on the island of Crete. In the broader region of the Sitia province, there are numerous petite beaches that offer a delightful combination of sun and sea. For those who enjoy staying near the urban area, the city’s long beach is an attractive option. Situated to the east of the city, Sitia beach stretches from the port all the way to the Petras area. The beach, largely composed of sand with some pebbles scattered here and there, has shallow waters. It is well-equipped with amenities such as umbrellas, showers, lifeguards, beach/water sports, and beach bars. However, quiet spots can be found along its extensive shoreline, particularly towards the east. The east side also accommodates campervans and is dotted with a few trees.
Beyond the Petras area to the east, you can explore the ruins of an ancient city at Trypitos Cape, alleged to be Itia, the hometown of the Wise Myson. Moreover, archaeologists have discovered remnants from various phases of the Minoan era in Petras. West of Trypitos’s archaeological site, another small beach named Karavopetra is located. This name translates to “Ship Stone”, inspired by the sea boulder where ships would traditionally anchor.
In the expansive, uninhabited wilderness between Platani and Sitia airport, the landscape is dominated by sparse vegetation and rugged, sharp rocks. This region, known as Melissokipi or ‘Bee Gardens’, is devoid of roads. It is intersected by numerous deep streams that flow into the sea during the winter season. One such stream, the Vathys Potamos or ‘Deep River’, gives way to a small sandy beach. However, the beach is often adversely affected by frequent winds and waves that bring trash ashore. The region is also referred to as Spilia, which translates to ‘cave’, owing to the presence of one of Crete’s largest caves near the beach. This cavern is so sizable that it can comfortably accommodate a large vessel.
Platani, situated 7km to the west of Sitia and 60km east of Agios Nikolaos on Crete island, can be reached by taking the road to Faneromeni Monastery, which starts near the village of Skopi. Around 2km after Skopi, just before reaching the monastery, you’ll discover two adjacent small pebbly beaches with crystal clear waters.
The first beach, known as Agii Pantes, is nestled at the exit of the verdant Agii Pantes gorge, which can be accessed easily by a hiking trail. Limestone formations near the beach, resembling Pleurotus mushrooms, are a sight to behold. The gorge houses two freshwater springs, Koutsounari and Hosto Nero, the latter located inside a cave. During winter, Agii Pantes beach floods and transforms into a significant wetland.
The second beach, Platani, is formed at the exit of another lush canyon that runs parallel to Agii Pantes. The canyon starts from Faneromeni Monastery. The beach is named Platani, which translates to platan tree in Greek, after the platan trees that line the beach. A spring with fresh water is located next to the beach. This undeveloped area is perfect for peaceful solitude and calm swimming. To the west of Cape Trahilos lies Papadiokambos, a spot renowned for windsurfing.
While you’re in the area, it’s worth paying a visit to the Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni, located adjacent to the Platani gorge. The monastery, likely built in the 14th century and renovated in 1624, houses paintings dated to 1455. These were blackened by the destructive raids of the pirate Barbarossa in 1538 and by the Turks in 1829. The monastery’s name, Faneromeni, which means ‘Revealed’, is derived from the image of the Virgin Mary that reportedly “appeared” in a small cave next to the church. Today, the monastery is uninhabited.
The sea around Papadiokambos is frequently choppy, which makes the eastern side of the Trahili peninsula, just east of the settlement, an ideal alternative for swimming. The stubby cape shields against the waves, resulting in tranquil, azure-blue waters. Initially, it may seem as though there is only a rocky shoreline without a beach. However, there’s a hidden, modest beach, accessible by a dirt road, named Gaidaros (meaning Donkey), as seen on the map. Gaidaros is the sole natural beach in the extensive region between Kalavros and Sitia town that boasts consistently calm waters.
Situated 12km west of Sitia and 59km east of Agios Nikolaos, Papadiokambos nests near the Faneromeni Monastery in the Skopi area, just west of Cape Trahilos. Reachable via a well-maintained dirt road, Papadiokambos is home to a long beach scattered with large stones and rocks. You will find a few bays formed with pebbles where swimming is possible. The beach is secluded, so it’s likely you’ll have it all to yourself. However, it’s worth noting that amenities are scarce, so bring your own supplies. Strong winds and large waves discourage most visitors, making it an ideal spot for windsurfing enthusiasts, even in winter. Known as Faneromeni among windsurfers, Papadiokambos is renowned as one of Greece’s prime locations for wave sailing, a thrilling aspect of the sport. The area is characterized by strong currents, large waves reaching 3-4m high, and virtually no beach. Some spots can be hazardous, requiring caution and advanced level skills to avoid damaging your equipment on the rocks.
The beach also houses an excavated Minoan fisherman’s house, a small structure that has provided significant insight into Minoan dietary habits.