For the most part, the beaches encountered on the north coast line in this prefecture are crowded, as they are all close to major tourist centres. Even so, there do exist enough beaches for someone looking for chances of peace and relaxation.
Starting the tour, and passing from west to east, the first beach encountered is Mononaftis.
The beach Mononaftis is 23 km from the town of Heraklion and just 1 km from the popular tourist resort of Agia Pelagia. A very beautiful beach, if only 80 m long, with clear crystalline waters which deepen suddenly: sandy and with small pebbles and a rocky seabed in places, which makes for good fishing and diving.
Within walking distance of Agia Pelagia and 22 km from Heraklion, in a small, enclosed cove is the beach Psaromoura. Small it may be, but plenty of people go there.
Aghia Pelagia is one of THE most popular summer destinations in the Heraklion prefecture. This is 21 km from Heraklion and has a long beach of some 450m with fine sand.
Lygaria 21 km west of Heraklion and just 1 km east of Agia Pelagia. This is a beautiful enclosed bay that is relatively protected from the winds. It has both sand and pebbles and a quite interesting seabed you can explore with a mask.
Mades is a small bay 20 km west of Heraklion in front of the tourist resort of the same name. The beach is pebbly, the water clear and a beautiful seabed is there for the exploration.
Amoudara is a vast sandy beach that stretches from the west boundaries of the city of Heraklion and extends east to the mouth of the River Almyros: it has shallow waters, and here and there is organized.
Karteros beach is located on that part of the bay which begins west of Heraklion airport (some 7 km from the town itself). It is a beach with much sand and shallow waters, which many locals prefer to use for a quick dip.
The area of Vathianos Kampos is 15 km east of Heraklion. This expanse of level land takes its name from the Vatheiano River, which flows through the plain in the winter to the beach. The two settlements here of Epano/Upper and Kato/Lower Vatheia lie close to each other.
This coastal tourist development, 15 km from Heraklion, is just to the east of the Vatheiano Kampos. It has many beaches – large and small, with sand and shallow waters, which are affected by the strong north winds that frequently blow.
Gournes is a tourist village located between Kokkini Hani and Gouves, some 16 km from Heraklion. It consists of a series of small sandy coves that are open to the winds and therefore have been equipped with breakwaters.
The beaches of Gouves are small, sandy, with shallow and warm waters: perfect for young children. The majority are organized and protected - up to a point - from the winds by small artificial breakwaters.
Between the seaside resorts of Kato Gouves and Analipsi, in a a distance of 19 km from Heraklion, the Aposleme river flows sown to a most attractive beach, It is some 750 m in length, with sand and shallow waters. But lightly organized..
Limanakia of Hersonissos is one of the most popular areas for tourists in Crete, 26 km east of Heraklion; it is composed of a string of bays to the west and a little outside the core of the settlement: with white sand and blue-green waters.
A few kilometers from Hersonissos and 33 km from Heraklion lies the seaside town of Stalida. Stalida (meaning a break for a rest .. how appropriate!) is a tourist resort whose boundaries merge with those of the two noisier ones of Hersonissos and Malia.
Mallia lies 37 km east of Heraklion and is a popular destination, with an excellent infrastructure and ‘vibrant’ nightlife. It has several beaches.