Kokkini Ammos beach (meaning Red Sand) is a secluded beach which can be reached only on foot. It has reddish sand that has given it its name, and turquoise waters. The beach is located south of Matala on the southern coast of Crete island, in the prefecture of Heraklion. The rocky cliffs that rise to the north have in some parts, fabulous designs cut into them – like the sphinx and various other esoteric symbols. The sculptures are the work of a Belgian artist and have become a characteristic feature of the area. Visitors often will attempt to include their own artworks or artistic designs to the collection. Due to the location and hard access, the beach is not organized but there is often a small café-canteen, built out of stone for drinks. However, it is best to take all you need with you as the canteen is not always open and there are no tavernas or shops nearby. Sometimes there are umbrellas and sunbeds for hire but it is best to bring your own as there is no natural shade. The beach is also open to the strong south winds, which form impressive waves.
In the 1960s and 70s, Kokkini Ammos was a favourite spot for hippies. Today it remains one of the favoured destinations of nudists and it is no coincidence that it has been voted as one of the best beaches in the world by the international media for naturalists. The beach is roughly divided into nudist-friendly and clothed areas, so whatever you prefer you will enjoy your time here in full. Kokkini Ammos and the surrounding area has been included in the EC ecological network of Natura 2000: a protected refuge of the Mediterranean Monk seal, the loggerhead turtles (Caretta Caretta) and other animals.
To reach the beach, you will need to follow a trail that starts near Matala. The coastal path takes about half an hour and can be steep and challenging in certain parts. Families with young children and those with mobility problems might want to skip Kokkini Ammos or take a boat from Matala.