Best of family-friendly beaches in Crete: an interview with an expert
Which beaches are a ‘must’ visit for families on holiday in Crete? Well, we have the answer to that question as we interviewed the expert, Mr. Roniotis, the founder of Cretanbeaches.com which is the only website devoted to Cretan beaches. Mr. Ronitis is also the author of the book, ‘Blue Crete’.
Briefly, how would you describe the island as a family travel destination?
Mr. Roniotis: Crete is the ideal destination for a family vacation as there are many things to do with kids. Crete is a paradise for both children and adults alike, and let’s face it, at the end of the day we are all children at heart!
Families can enjoy the nature, history, and cultural richness of the island and at the same time experience services of the highest quality.
What are the reasons that families choose Crete as a travel destination?
Mr. Roniotis: Surely the combination of its natural beauty, the excellent climate, and the local cuisine make the island a perfect choice, with or without children.
In addition, there are large hotels with organized children’s programs, water parks, playgrounds, etc., and all this helps make life easier for parents. There is also a Natural History Museum, Botanical Park & Gardens, and the CretAquarium as well as agro-tourism activities where children can learn about cheese-making, olive oil production, beekeeping, or perhaps ceramics, etc.
For the nature lovers, you could even camp under the stars without any fear as there are no dangerous animals such as bears or wolves, and none of the snakes are poisonous.
There are also plenty of activities that both children and parents can participate in; horseback riding lessons, snorkeling and diving, climbing, canoeing, windsurfing, and sailing, to name a few.
The constant happy disposition of the Cretan people is also another excellent reason to choose Crete. Everywhere you go you notice genuine smiles and the relaxed mood of the locals. Cretan people genuinely enjoy life and the beauty of this sunny paradise. Life in the countryside is very simple and relaxed.
Are you visiting Crete island with the family and wondering what to do with the kids? Check out our various family-friendly suggestions in Crete and choose the one best suited to your family’s needs and interests.
What do you think are the key features that qualify a beach to be considered “kid-friendly/ family-friendly“?
Mr. Roniotis: It needs to be shallow, calm, without waves, and have a lifeguard. Sandy beaches are preferred, or at least without stones so that children can run around freely. In case there aren’t umbrellas there must be natural shade (trees, caves, cliffs), or else you need to take your own umbrella.
Finally, it’s good to have some basic infrastructure nearby, such as restaurants or coffee shops. All those features are typically found on Blue Flag beaches in Crete and we are fortunate enough to have many such beaches!
Based on your experience, which are the most child-friendly beaches in Crete?
There are many beaches in Crete which are ideal for families. Let’s look at each region.
Starting from the south of Chania, the favorite beach of all families is Elafonissi beach, with its pink sand.
The beaches are Paleochora are also very popular; we particularly love Pacheia Ammos.
The sandy beach of Fragkokastelo, as well as Fallasarna, are big hits among families.
Other nice beaches for families near Chania are Agia Marina, Platanias, Gerani, and Kalamaki, however, they are very crowded especially in the high season.
If you decide to stay in the northern part of Rethymno, Panormo Beach as well as Vaktotopos Beach in Bali are good options for families as they are both protected from the wind.
Starting from south, the best family friendly beaches are Tsoutsouras as well as Kastri.
If it is windy and you are on the north coast, we recommend either Agia Pelagia or the bays near Chersonisos, although both can be crowded. Ligaria is another option, only 20 min drive from Heraklion.
Other sandy beaches but very crowded with tourists in high season are Gournes, Gouves, Sarandaris in Hersnonissos as well as the other beaches around Hersonissos, Anisaras, Malia, Kokkini Hani, and Analispsi. Make sure that you check the winds before you go.
One of our favorite parts of Crete in terms of the number of family-friendly beaches is the region of Lassithi.
Specifically, the area around Agios Nikolaos in Mirambello bay has a plethora of beaches, varying from hidden beaches that only locals know to organized beaches with water sports. In the Elounda/ Plaka area, we love Kolokitha (or the Beach of St Lucas) as well as Sxisma.
One of our absolute favorites – when it is not windy – is Voulisma beach as well as the nearby Istron Beach near Kalo Horio.
In the south coast, we highly recommend the sandy beaches of Makrigialos and Hiona.
Kouremenos Beach is for those who love windsurfing and Vai Beach is a paradise due to the palm tree forest. Both of them are near Sitia.
If you are near Ierapetra, visit the long beach of Koutsounari Beach. We particularly love the parts of the beach near Kakkos Bay as well as the Coriva Hotel. Bear in mind that the restaurant of Coriva Hotel, Pelagos, is highly recommended for lunch, dinner, or even a snack on the beach.
Looking for family-friendly accommodation on Crete island? Crete offers so many options able to cover every family’s needs and tastes. Check out our list of family-friendly resorts and villas on Crete or contact us at [email protected] to help you find the ideal accommodation for your family.
Is there a part in Crete which you think is more child-friendly in terms of beaches than another?
Mr. Roniotis: There is no argument that there are fantastic family beaches on the north and south coast. However, my favorite part of the island in terms of real child-friendly beaches in the Gulf of Mirabello, namely most of the beaches near Agios Nikolaos. There the infrastructure is excellent.
Specifically, Plaka Beach is very unique and recommended for those families with older kids as it has big stones. The beauty of the specific beach is its view of the island of Spinalonga.
Want to live a unique experience with the family around the beautiful Gulf of Mirabello? Visit the historic island of Spinalonga and swim in the crystal-clear waters of Kolokytha beach during our private Family Sailing Experience in Elounda.Ask for info!
The beaches of Sxisma Eloundas, the Katsikia of Agios Nikolaos, Havania as well as the exceptionally organized Ammoudi in Agios Nikolaos. Ammoudi is actually the perfect beach in case it is windy.
In the heart of Agios Nikolaos, there is Kitroplateia Beach, Ammos Beach near the Marina, Almiro Beach with the swallow waters, Ammmoudara in the outskirts of the town.
When it is not windy, I highly recommend the two beaches of Kalo Horio, Istron and Voulisma with the exotic waters.
Another very good alternative is Plakias as the beaches there are shallow and safe, but, it can be windy at times. In terms of safety, it is all subject to weather conditions, so be careful.
Can you share with us any off-the-beaten-track beaches in Crete?
Mr. Roniotis: The beauty of Crete is that there are so many amazing beaches which are that unknown, meaning that tourists do not know about their existence, only the locals know. Most of them are usually more difficult to access and/ or are far away from the touristic areas of the island.
For example, the beaches around the area of Xerokampos at the southeastern tip of Crete are fantastic. I particularly love going there during fall, when the beaches resemble a white carpet from the sand lilies which grow there.
Additionally, the beaches in the Asterousia mountains such as Trafoulas and Tripitiki are definitely worth a visit. I also highly recommend the beaches found between Moni Preveli to Triopetra. The large dunes which disappear into the South Cretan Sea are a true delight to watch.
Are you an active family and wish to explore the numerous beauties of Cretan nature? Have a look at our list of outdoor and nature family-friendly tours you may enjoy with the kids whilst on Crete.
Some of our readers are asking about nudist beaches or LGBTQ+ friendly in Crete. Any recommendations?
There is no general rule for determining which beaches are friendly to these categories of visitors. In general, beaches in remote areas, away from the urban centers, tend to be suitable for nudists and the LGBTQ+ community.
For example, the beaches in secluded areas of Crete i.e. in the Asterousia Mountains, Sfakia, southern and eastern Crete are nudist and LGBTQ+ friendly.
That said, there are some nudists spots traditionally located next to touristic areas, such as the nudist beach in Limanakia (Hersonissos), in Macherida (Akrotiri, Chania), Dyskos (Lenta), Kokkini Ammos, and Komos (Matala), the eastern part of Sougia, Glyka Nera (Sfakia), as well as in most beaches in Gavdos.
It seems that you are the expert on Crete and its beaches, but not only. What other ideas do you have for families who love living like a local during their vacation?
Mr. Roniotis: Crete is the ideal destination for the active adventurous type of families, those families who love snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as those who are into hiking and exploration of off-the-beaten-track destinations. There are so many options, it all depends on the interest as well as the willingness of the family to travel all over Crete.
Read all of Mr. Roniotis’s recommendations in the following articles:
Crete Top Beaches for Active Families Who Love Adventures
The Most Beautiful Smaller Islands in Crete
Best Gorges in Crete for Families
The Most Beautiful Castles in Crete
Hidden Beaches and Hidden Villages in Crete
Amazing Snorkeling, Scuba Diving and Underwater Caves in Crete
The Best Hikes and Waterfalls in Crete to Visit with Kids
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