Crete is a fascinating island that has a rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural landscapes. However, Crete’s beauty extends beyond its borders to the surrounding islands, each with its unique charm and appeal. Island hopping in Crete is a great way to explore the diverse landscape and get a taste of the different island cultures.
Here are some of the surrounding islands to consider exploring during your trip to Crete.
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 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.
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.
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. Visitors can enjoy a stroll through the forest, taking in its unparalleled beauty and relishing the tranquillity of the island.
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.
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 to explore the stunning islands surrounding Crete.
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