Island Hopping from Crete: Discovering the 5 Most Beautiful Nearby Islands

by Crete Locals

  • Posted 1 year ago
  • Things to do

Island hopping from Crete offers an enchanting journey through rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural landscapes, not just on Crete itself but also on the surrounding islands, each with its unique charm and appeal. Crete, a fascinating island in its own right, serves as the perfect starting point for exploring these diverse and picturesque destinations. By island hopping from Crete, you’re invited to discover the beauty that extends beyond its borders, getting a taste of the different island cultures and landscapes.

Here are some of the surrounding islands to consider exploring during your island hopping adventure from Crete.

Dia Island: A Must-Visit Destination on Your Island Hopping from Crete Itinerary

island hopping from Crete: Dia island
Dia Island – A Must-Visit Destination on Your Crete Island Hopping Itinerary

Dia Island is a small, uninhabited island located just off the coast of Crete. The island is a popular destination for day trips and offers a great opportunity for snorkelling, swimming, and sunbathing. The island’s crystal-clear waters are home to a variety of marine life, making it a great place to explore underwater. Dia Island also has several hiking trails that allow you to explore the island’s rugged terrain and stunning views. Several organized tours take visitors to Dia Island, and most include a stop at the nearby fishing village of Agios Nikolaos.

When observed from Heraklion, the islet bears a resemblance to a colossal lizard. According to Greek mythology, there was once a giant reptile that endeavoured to obliterate the island of Crete. Zeus thwarted its plan by transforming it into a stone using a thunderbolt, resulting in the formation of the island. The islet’s visibility from Heraklion is reminiscent of the Minoan era when it would have been observable from Knossos. As a result, it was occasionally identified as the location where Theseus sought refuge after slaying the minotaur.

Gavdos Island: Uncovering the Secrets of Greece’s Southernmost Island

In 1539, the notorious pirate Barbarosa utilized Gavdos as a hideout

Gavdos Island is the southernmost point of Europe and is located about 45 kilometres south of Crete. The island is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and relaxed atmosphere. The island’s main beach, Sarakiniko, is a beautiful sandy beach with turquoise water that’s perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The island’s rugged terrain is also great for hiking, and several trails take visitors to some of the island’s hidden gems. Gavdos Island also has several small villages that offer a glimpse into the island’s unique culture and way of life.

Throughout its history, Gavdos has been known by various names, including Cavdos, Clavdos, and Clauda, while the Venetians referred to it as Gotzo. During the Venetian occupation, the island was deserted due to the pirates who sought shelter there. In 1539, the notorious pirate Barbarosa utilized Gavdos as a hideout.

Discovering the Natural Beauty of Chrissi Island

Chrissi Island – extensive cedarwood forest, primarily comprising juniper trees

Chrissi Island, also known as Golden Island, is a small island located off the southern coast of Crete. The island is known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and unique ecosystem. The island’s main beach, Vougiou Mati, is a stunning sandy beach with turquoise water that’s perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Chrissi Island is also home to several unique plant species, including the rare juniper trees that cover much of the island. There are several hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the island’s unique ecosystem and stunning views.

From Ierapetra: Cruise Around Chrissi Island With Swimming

Chrissi Island is an essential ecological reserve that is protected under the Natura 2000 Program. The island’s conservation efforts are imperative as it serves as a sanctuary for rare flora and fauna. The island spans a mere two kilometres wide and seven kilometres long, yet it boasts an array of stunning landscapes that are sure to captivate any visitor.

One of the island’s most remarkable features is its extensive cedarwood forest, primarily comprising juniper trees, which are believed to be the most extensive collection in Europe. These trees have a unique appearance, with twisted and gnarled branches that provide a magnificent spectacle for visitors to behold. The cedarwood forest not only serves as an enchanting visual attraction, but it is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals.

The local government has updated regulations regarding access to Chrissi Island:

  • Boats can no longer dock at the island, but visitors can swim from the boat to the beach.
  • Exploring the interior of the island is off-limits to protect the sea cedars’ habitat.
  • The island no longer offers amenities like sun umbrellas.

These changes aim to conserve the ecological balance of Chrissi Island.

Discovering the Fascinating History of Spinalonga Island

Spinalonga island crete
Spinalonga Island is a small island located in the Gulf of Elounda

Spinalonga Island is a small island located in the Gulf of Elounda, off the northeastern coast of Crete. The island has a rich history and is home to a well-preserved Venetian fortress that dates back to the 16th century. The island’s fortress was later used as a leper colony, and visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the island’s fascinating history. The island also offers stunning views of the surrounding sea, making it a great place to relax and take in the scenery. Several organized tours take visitors to Spinalonga Island, and most include a stop at the nearby town of Elounda.

Island Hopping from Crete: Discovering the Splendor of Santorini

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Let’s not overlook Santorini, one of the most celebrated destinations easily accessible from Crete, renowned for its quintessential Greek island charm. Santorini’s dramatic landscapes, with its iconic white buildings accented by blue-domed roofs perched atop steep cliffs, offer views straight out of a postcard. This island is particularly favored by couples and honeymooners, drawn not only to its breathtaking sunsets but also to its array of charming boutique hotels nestled along the caldera edge, offering unparalleled views of the Aegean Sea. For those seeking a touch of luxury, the island’s beachside resorts provide sumptuous accommodations and world-class amenities, making every stay unforgettable.

Traveling from Crete to Santorini is most conveniently done by ferry, with the majority departing from Crete’s Heraklion port up to five times daily during the bustling summer months. There are also ferry services available from Crete’s Rethymnon port, operating twice weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays throughout the season. Given the islands’ close proximity, the journey can be as quick as two hours on a fast boat or around four hours on a regular ferry service. Considering the popularity of both Crete and Santorini as tourist hotspots, it’s wise to plan and book your ferry tickets in advance to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip between these two stunning Aegean gems.

In conclusion, island hopping in Crete is an unforgettable experience that allows visitors to explore the stunning natural landscapes, unique cultures, and rich history of the surrounding islands. Whether you’re looking to relax on a beautiful beach, explore a unique ecosystem, or learn about the island’s fascinating history, there’s an island in Crete that’s perfect for you. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgetable island hopping from Crete.

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