The black beach (Aspes)

Top 5 Hidden Gems of South Crete

A large island like Crete is an explorer’s thrill! Even at peak season times of the year, there are so many places to discover, that one can always find a picturesque village and a quiet beach away from the crowds. While the North is more developed and easily accessible, the South offers hidden treasures all along the coast, from East to West and is truly worth exploring. Here are some of the places where locals go to avoid the more popular spots like Elafonissi, Balos and Lentas:

Makry Gialos and Stavrochori

Make your way down to Ierapetra and then drive along the South coast next to the sea for approx. 25km east until you reach Makry Gyalos (which means long seafront). The sandy beach is over 1km in length and the clear shallow water of the Libyan sea is very inviting despite always being much cooler than the Aegean sea on the North shores of the island.
Once you have had enough time at the beach, drive inland (into that beautiful backdrop of mountains) to Stavrochori. This traditional village has a quaint central square with a kafeneion (café) and tavern which will definitely meet your culinary expectations. Don’t miss a little meander through the village’s tiny streets, captivating old buildings and historical little church.

Makry Gialos and Stavrochori
The black beach (Aspes)

The black beach (Aspes)

A magical beach, only accessible by water. It is found approx. 58km south of Heraklion and there are little boats available to take you there from Tsoutsouras village. Black pebbles cover the seafront and as the turquoise waves sweep the beach, a beautiful relaxing sound is created from the movement of the pebbles and water. There are three small beaches, each with imposing cliffs as a backdrop to the crystal clear waters. Shade can be found amongst the rocks and take a spoon with you to collect some of the pure sea salt which can be found in the rock formations.

Ethia village

Found approx. 55km south of Heraklion, Ethia village is a place where time seems to have truly stood still. In the midst of a little forest, just over 20 people live in this village which is named after the willow tree in Greek (Itia). Park your car and wonder along the paved little streets, among stone built homes and arches and meet the friendly and hospitable residents. Some of the people here will still be in their traditional clothes and happy to take you to the Profits Elias church where an annual festival is held and the most amazing view of the area can be found!
Ethia Village Crete
Trachoulas beach Crete

Trachoulas beach

On the way to Lendas, turn off at Krotos village towards Trachoulas (also known as Trafoulas beach, situated approx. 80km from Heraklion). Park at the top of the hill (east of Agios Faulos port) and carefully walk down the steep winding path and through the mini gorge (approx. 10mins) only to come to the beautiful beach and jump in the cool water of the Libyan sea. There is a small cave where one can find shade but if already taken by others, shade is scarce so be sure to take an umbrella with you. The beach is quite deserted (apart from a few curious goats which will approach you!) and there is nothing available in the form of food/drinks so take anything you need down with you.

The Red Beach and Kouses village

Forget about Matala apart from your general direction when driving from Heraklion and head straight to the red sand beach (terracotta colour actually!) situated just south of Matala. The general feedback from everyone who visits, is that it is a bit of a trek (20mins) but well worth it once you arrive. The view of the beach from the top of the hill is stunning and once you have reached the red beach you will find a shack known as the local beach-bar for refreshments. On your drive there (or back) be sure to stop at the village Kouses in the Phaistos region (62km from Heraklion) for a drink or food and visit the unique family-run herb shop Votano. Giannis who is the owner knows about all the local herbs and teas and can offer you a wealth of information found nowhere else!
The Red Beach and Kouses village
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