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. At the front of the shore you will find several tamarisks and stands of the Theophrastus palms. Access is relatively difficult, but worth the trouble as the scenery is quite remarkable. It all has the feel of the Middle East.
The beach and the surrounding countryside will likewise repay investigation. To reach them, you take the asphalt road to Moni Odigtria. Then choose the dirt-road which leads off right from the Monastery, following the sign for Martsalo. The road takes you to the start of the Martsaliotiko Gorge, where you leave your car and continue on foot down the gorge for some 2 km.
The route through the ravine is relatively easy and of interest to one keen on exploring and hiking. Along the way you will find small stands of the palms; the riverbed is overgrown with age-old olives, carobs and large oleanders.
At the start of the gorge is a church built in a cave, dedicated to the Annunciation and the Virgin Mary, whose name-day is on March 25th. It is an extraordinary monument, carved out of the living rock. It actually seems to have begun as a Minoan tomb, being later enlarged and also used as early Christian catacombs. In the roof is a vertical shaft, a natural crevice, which serves to aid ventilation.
Many monks, mostly in bygone times, chose to become hermits in the gorge, and thus cast a religious tone over all the region So, on your way you will encounter their dwelling caves distributed either side of the riverbed..
Because of the presence of the church and the hermits’ quarters, nudism is not allowed on the beach.
You can get to the beach directly by caique from Aghia Galini, Kokkino Pyrgos and Matala. But by taking the route through the gorge, you will be able admire the beauties of the landscape.
East of Martsalo is the beach of Aghiofarango.
- Tips, Suggestions, Iseful info
- History, Culture
- What to do (Activities)
- What to see (Culture, Nature)
- location Monastery of Odigitria, Phaistos, Heraklio
- free camping Yes
- nudism No
- beach type Sandy, Thin Pebble
- accommodation No
- dinning No
- other facilities
relevant routes & paths:
Distance: 80 km from the city of Heraklion.
By sea: By boat from Agia Galini, Kokkinos Pyrgos and Matala.
On foot: Proceed in your car on the surfaced road as far as Odigitria Monastery. From there, take the hard dirt road to the right of the monastery and follow the signs to the beach of Martsalo. The road will take you to the top of Martsaliotikou Gorge, where you leave your vehicle and continue on foot through the gorge for 2 km to reach the beach.