Many options exist. From Keratokampos in the Viannos area to Lenda, Kommos with its Minoan settlement right on the shoreline, and – of course – Matala with the cliff-face caves made famous once upon a time by the hippies!
For a more ardent nature-lover are out-of-the-way beaches of outstanding beauty: with no road access, one can only reach them by foot along a pathway or by boat. Such are found at the mouths of the Martsalo and Aghiofarango Gorges, and again at the White and Black beaches of the eastern Asteroussia.
Moving from west to east across the borders of the Rethymnon and Heraklion Prefectures, between the settlements of Aghia Galini and Tymbaki is Kokkinos Pyrgos.
East of both Kokkinos Pyrgos and Katalyki is found Afratia, again basically a continuation of what is next door.
To the south end of the Gulf of Messara, this was in times past the port of Festos: by the beach you will today happen on the ruins of the old city.
The town, with its beach of 300 m and the many caves cut out of the high cliffs which surround and form the enclosed and sheltered bay, is one of the most popular destinations in Crete.
This beach (Red Sand) aka Kokkini Ammos is a secluded beach which can be reached only by foot – with the reddish sand that bestows on it its name, and turquoise waters. The rocky cliffs that rise up to the north have here and there fabulous forms cut into them – like the sphinx and various other esoteric symbols. They are modern, the work of a Belgian.
Located near Cape Lithino at the mouth of a small gorge, this is far from civilization! Enclosed by tall cliffs, it looks like a lagoon and is not affected by the strong local winds that blow.
Situated at the mouth of the Martsaliotiko Gorge, it is a secluded little beach, surrounded by cliffs – with sand, small pebbles and cold clear water. The sea bottom is imposing too.
This is a small gorge that runs about a kilometer south of Martsalo : it takes its name from the 300 hermits reported to have practiced here. The gorge leads to a beach surrounded by imposingly high cliffs: of an unusual loveliness, the isolated strand has small pebbles and deep, crystal-clear water.
Right next door to Kaloi Limenes within an enclosed and secluded bay, it gets its name (the Narrows or Straits) from the constricted passages either side of a rock in the sea in front of the beach.
Chrisostomos is a small touristy village with a beach; it occupied the site of ancient Lasaia, one of the largest ports serving Gortyn. Here you can find rent-rooms and tavernas. The beach fronts the village: it has small pebbles and clear water, but remains undisturbed by the strong winds that blow locally.
Platia Peramata settlement lies at the mouth of a valley that runs from the village Antiskari, and between Kaloi Limenes and Lenta.
Dyskos is a small village with a lovely long beach, very close to Lenta. The beach has both sand and small pebbles and very clear green waters than deepen abruptly.
A passable dirt-road reaches this attractive beach from Lenta. Isolated, it has coarse sand and pebbles, ideal for lovers of spearfishing. Though it is not developed, yet you will find some tavernas and rentable rooms nearby.
This takes its name from the church of the Panagia Trypitis: built in a cave (=hole=trypa) in the gorge. The beach is extensive, but not affected by the strong local winds..
A very small and secluded beach, with pebbles and deep very clear water – ideal for underwater exploration, it is located at the exit of a small gorge. As such it is cut off and accessible most readily from the sea.
The beach in front of its village is quiet, with sand, pebbles and deep crystal-clear waters, perfect for spear-fishing and camping. There is no organized infrastructure on the beach, but nearby are some restaurants and rooms to rent.
This quiet and secluded beach is located between Aghios Ioannis and the Monastery of Koudoumas. To get there on foot, follow a path from Aghios Ioannis to the Monastery: a beautiful journey of about an hour that passes through pine forests.
This (Deep Sands, aka Ornios) is a beautiful beach some 300 m long, with sand (as its name suggests) and very clear waters, which deepen suddenly. It is set in the shade of tall cliffs, both steep and massy; and exposed to the strong local winds.
Secluded, it cannot be reached in a vehicle, only in a privately hired boat from a nearby harbour. It has pebbles, light in colour, and crystal-clear deep water. Due to its isolation, it is preferred by nudists.
Located at the mouth of a gorge, it is overshadowed by the tall, sheer cliffs, whose shade is appreciated by the daytime visitor. Its other name of Petrigyari is also derived from the same impressive cliffs. Isolated, it is small with pebbles and deep, very blue waters.