The beach of Agios Ioannis in Gavdos is smaller than that of the popular Sarakiniko nearby and less well known. The beach and area are completely unspoilt, with no infrastructure, so you will have to plan and bring everything, including water and food with you. A small taverna (Sophia’s) operates during the summer months but it is best to ask ahead to avoid surprises. The water is clear and shallow; the beach ends in dunes with cedar trees that offer shade to campers. You should be aware that the beach – indeed the whole island – attracts many nudists so if that is something you are comfortable with, you will be in good company. Gavdos island has retained its popularity as an alternative holiday destination, where the relaxed hippie spirit survives.
It is a landscape of incredible natural beauty and that is one of the many reasons why the Discovery Channel a few years ago voted it as the second-best beach in the world. The name comes from the chapel of Agios Ioannis nearby, around which have been found ruins of ancient buildings and water-tanks cut into the ground. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the chapel from the beach but the path can be hard to spot. Agios Ioannis is located 4 km west of Sarakiniko. To get there you follow the surfaced road until you find the only restaurant in the area, then you continue walking amongst the rocks and sand. If possible, try to arrive at the beach early in the day, to avoid walking under the sun. The journey from Sarakiniko on foot will take you about 45 minutes. Sometimes a local bus route operates that can take you close to the beach. A coastal path begins at the west of the beach that leads to the neighbouring beach one of Lavrakas. Soft golden sand and turquoise waters await visitors that make it to Agios Ioannis. After such an excursion, many chose to stay on the beach for as long as possible. It is common to see free campers for weeks or even months, and there is a strong community like feel.