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Crete early planning questions

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In the early planning stages of a family (couple w/20 something children) to Crete. My plan was to fly directly from Athens to Chania, stay near Chania in a beach hotel. Interests lie in a little beach time (perhaps more for the young adults), hike through Samaria Gorge, a little sight seeing, eating authentic food. My question is would it work to stay put near Chania and drive to various beaches and sites. We will be probably staying in Crete for about 6 days, and will spend the last 2-3 days in Athens.
I would like to see Knossos, which is probably the farthest attraction from Chania, but am reluctant to move hotels.
I understand that we can fly from Athens to Chania, avoiding Heraklion entirely. Is this correct?
Any input on this itinerary or opinions about staying in one place would be much appreciated. Also welcome suggestions on recommended sights, beaches, hiking areas, or archaeological sites near Chania. Thank you!

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