Beaches in Crete

With hundreds of miles of dramatic coastline, Crete has an almost endless supply of beaches. Many are soft and powdery, some are action-packed with water sports, and others are blissfully untrammeled. The most celebrated bookend the island: palm-shaded Vai to the east and Elafonisi to the west.

Lovers of sand and surf quickly discover that there are really two distinct types of beaches on Crete: the highly developed strands on the north coast and the rugged getaway beaches on the south coast. Northern beaches stretch along the flat, sandy coastal plain between the island's major cities and are easily reached by the east–west national highway, as well as by an extensive bus network. Most are packed with umbrellas and sun beds and backed by hotels.

Beaches on the south coast are tucked into coves and bays, often at the end of poor roads; a rental car and a good map are essential to explore them. Strike it lucky and you will see barely a soul, even in peak season.

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