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This is a long, sandy beach with shallow, turquoise waters and a few small sand-dunes. The beach offers a peaceful and relaxing spot, yet the cave formations that surround the beach are also suitable for underwater exploration or a bit of spearfishing. The village of Xerokampos and the surrounding area provide a range of options when it comes to tavernas and rooms to rent. However, more shops can be found at Zakros as well. To get here from Sitia, take the road east to Palaikastro, and then on to Zakros. Just outside of Zakros there is a road junction where you turn right on the road for Xerokampos. Alternatively, there is a road from Sitia to Ierapetra that will take you through Ziros and then lead to Xerokampos. The second route goes through a few abandoned villages and the gorge of Lamnonios. For those who like hiking, there is a trail from Agia Irini that takes approximately 2 hours.
Limani – Ammatou Beach
This is a lovely spot with a small natural harbor, primarily used by locals for their small fishing boats. A quiet and secluded beach with pebbles, sand and very clear water. You will also find a few tamarisks that offer natural shade to the visitors. To get here you will need to drive on a dirt road.
Tis Lygias o Lakos
Just a few meters away from Limani Ammatou is a small sheltered beach with this peculiar name. It has small pebbles, crystalline waters and is surrounded by towering cliffs creating a wild but incredibly beautiful landscape. A few hundred meters off the shore, you will spot a cluster of islets, collectively known as Kavali. They are three steep rocky outcrops that provide shelter for predatory birds – namely the migratory varvakia hawk (Mavroperites, or Eleanor’s falcon).
Not far from Xerokampos Beach, we find Ammatou, the longest beach in the region. It has pale-coloured sands and clear turquoise and shallow waters. Relatively quiet, it lacks amenities, though you can find some tavernas and rooms to rent nearby. The view over the Libyan sea from this spot is enchanting; if possible stay to watch the spectacular sunset over the three islets of Kavali and the island of Koufonisi to the southwest. On the other side of Cape Trachilos, there are plenty of small coves that are also suitable for swimming; the first is called Gerontolakos.
Gerontolakos beach is a small bay in Cape Trachilos and it is also often referred to as Agios Nikolaos. It has taken its second name, from a small blue-domed church that sits on a hill behind the beach. Here you will find sand, and shallow blue waters as well as a few rooms to rent and a couple of excellent tavernas. Very close to the church of Agios Nikolaos, you will come across the ruins of Ambelos, a city-state of the Hellenistic period.
Argilos beach, next to Gerontolakos, is a small bay with sand and shallow blue-green waters. As its name suggests, the rock formations surrounding the area contain clay. This makes it a popular spot for therapeutic mud-baths!
Another beach in the area is Vourlia. It is sandy with clear shallow waters and there are no amenities nearby apart from a couple of tavernas.
North of Xerokampos we find “Limni tou Alatiou“, which translates to “Salt Lake“. It was an active salt mining spot up until 1965 that was known since the Hellenistic era. Today it is an important eco-habitat, a shelter for migrating birds, such as the flamingo, and other fauna. The beach is sandy, with shallow clear water; in the winter the lake floods and forms a small sea-lagoon.
This is an amazing beach, with sand and blue-green shallow waters, surrounded by impressive rock formations. Utterly deserted, you will not find any natural shade, apart from the rare white sea-lily that grows on the dunes and blossoms at the end of summer. The loggerhead turtle (Caretta Caretta) comes ashore here to lay its eggs, as is the case with many of these local beaches.
This is a very small cove north of Xerokambos that is unknown to most visitors. Small and pebbly, it is a secluded and isolated spot, with blue-green waters and reddish rock formations. Due to its secluded nature, this is a popular spot for nudists. To reach the area, you will need a boat or to hike down a steep slope from the eastern side. There are no amenities.