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Glyka Nera Beach South of Crete DP-min

The 10 Best Beaches in Crete for Adventurous And Active Families

    Crete is an island that perfectly combines sea and mountain, as three vast mountain ranges stretch along its mainland, creating breathtaking gorges that conclude at spectacular beaches. For this reason, Crete is the perfect destination for adventurous families who love nature, trekking and pristine beaches.

    Read our selection of the best beaches in Crete for adventurous and active families that will satisfy your drive for adventure, but are also relatively easy to access for an exciting and nagging-free day at the beach!

    1. Kedrodasos

    Kedrodasos is one of the best hidden gems of Crete, accessible via the E4 hiking path starting from the east end of Elafonissi. Beautiful white sand, juniper trees and crystal clear water make this place the ideal destination for nature loving families and campers.

    There are no facilities in this beach, which contributes to its fame as one of the last untouched paradises of Crete. However, you can find everything you need in Elafonissi, which is only 30 minutes away on foot, making this small adventure ideal for families traveling with young kids and would like to have some access to facilities.

    As the trail to Kedrodassos is rocky, make sure you wear hiking sandals or shoes. Alternatively, you can reach Kedrodasos by car via a dirt road, but you will still have to walk a little bit to reach the beach.

    Extra info & tips:

    • Total walking distance: 30 minutes (1km)
    • The trail is not always easy to see but it is always next to the coastline. Look for the yellow E4 signs to find your way!
    • You can find shade under the juniper trees on the beach, but don’t forget your hat and sunblock for the walk, as the summer heat can be intense.
    • Elafonissi is nearby so you can eat there and relax at the organized beach after visiting Kedrodasos, but you should definitely bring lots of water, and some snacks, because you might end up staying longer than expected!
    Kedrodasos beach near Elafonissi beach on Crete island DP-min

    2. Preveli Beach

    A spectacular exotic beach with palm trees and a river trail leading to a hidden paradise full of small ponds and waterfalls, perfect to escape the hot summer sun and enjoy a unique family adventure!

    Located about 35km south of Rethymno, Preveli is perhaps the most pleasant destination for adventurous families, as the trail to the gorge is easy, and you can find snacks and water at the canteen on the beach, so you won’t have to carry much.

    The beach of Preveli is sandy and not well organized because the area is protected (no umbrellas and sunbeds).

    Extra info & tips:

    • Total walking distance: to reach the beach from the parking lot takes about 15-20 minutes. The palm tree forest of Preveli stretches for 1-2 km inside the mainland from the beach, so you walk as far as you want!
    • The river trail is sandy in most parts, so no special shoes are needed.
    • The main way down to Preveli beach can be challenging when you have to climb it, especially on a hot day. Alternatively, you can drive to nearby Drimiskiano Amoudi beach and walk the short trail that leads to Preveli beach in just 5 minutes! We highly recommend this alternative way if you travel with young kids or have a lot to carry.
    • Preveli is also accessible via small boats departing from Agia Galini and Plakias
    • Preveli gets its name after the nearby historic monastery of Preveli founded in the 16th or 17th century.
    Preveli river and beach south of Rethymno

    3. Agiofaraggo

    A beautiful sandy beach surrounded by a mind blowing landscape, with impressive high cliffs and small caves to explore. Agiofaraggo is a must-see for adventurous families, located 80km south of Heraklion.

    To reach it, you need to drive on a dirt road starting from the Monastery of Odigitria, near the village of Sivas, and follow the signs that lead to a parking space near the entrance of the gorge. The walk from there is relatively easy and the route is absolutely spectacular. Take a short break at the temple of Agios Antonios and search for “goumenospilio”, a cave where ascetic hermits used to gather.

    Swim in crystal clear waters and take your time to explore the area. There are no facilities nearby, so make sure you have enough water and snacks to spend the day.

    Extra info & tips:

    • Total walking distance: 40 – 20 minutes
    • As there is little shade in Agiofaraggo beach (mainly at its two ends, that can be already occupied), consider bringing an umbrella. Otherwise, you will have to seek for trees, not far from the beach.
    • The sea in Agiofaraggo is perfect for snorkelling, so don’t forget your mask!
    • Agiofaraggo was a popular ascetic place, with hermits living in the many small caves you will see around the cliffs. Today, you will only see climbers occupying the cliffs!
    • Avoid parking your car under the trees, as you might find goats on it when you return, using it as a ladder to eat from the high branches!
    Agiofarago beach, Crete island, Greece.

    4. Kato Zakros Beach (& gorge of the dead!)

    Kato Zakros is a very special place, 44km south of Sitia and away from popular tourist resorts, perfect for families who seek a beautiful and serene environment for vacation. Plus, it is a place of great historical importance with several archaeological sites in short distance.

    The Gorge of Kato Zakros (aka the Gorge of the Dead) is only one of them, starting from Ano Zakros and ending at the lovely Kato Zakros beach. In fact, the trail in the gorge is the final part of the E4 European trail!

    The gorge is one of the most impressive of Crete, and the numerous small caves you will see on the cliffs are actually ancient tombs, as the gorge once hosted a large Minoan cemetery – an exciting tale for your little explorers!

    The beach of Kato Zakros is ideal for families, as it is protected from winds throughout the summer, and a perfect site for snorkeling too!

    Extra info & tips:

    • Total walking distance: about 2 hours
    • You can return to Ano Zakros via taxi or car to get your car from the entrance of the gorge.
    • It is also worth visiting the nearby Minoan Palace of Zakros and the beautiful beaches of Xerokampos
    • The small coastal settlement in Kato Zakros offers all basic amenities (super markets, pharmacy, petrol station, rooms to rent, ect) and a number of great fish taverns
    • Don’t forget your hat, sunblock and lots of water, as there is not a lot of shade throughout the route in the gorge
    Kato Zakros Beach Cretan Beaches-min
    Photo credit: Cretan Beaches

    5. Marmara Beach

    An amazing beach with dreamy waters, completely isolated and perfect for adventurous families who love hiking and sailing!

    The beach of Marmara is situated at the exit of the imposing Aradaina gorge, so you can spend some time walking around to explore it. The beach is characterized by small water caves formed in striking rocks, perfect for snorkeling.

    You can either access Marmara via the E4 trail from Loutro (2km away), or you can hire a small boat from there, but the best way to enjoy this beach, as well as the many other beautiful beaches of the area, is with a family sailing trip (highly recommended)! There is a tavern on the beach, sunbeds, and umbrellas.

    Extra info & tips:

    • Total walking distance from Loutro: 70-80 minutes
    • The E4 trail can be challenging in some parts, and there is not a lot of shade in the summer. Therefore, we recommend this route to families with older children (6+)
    • Marmara is only one of the many isolated beaches of the area, some of which are only accessible by the sea. Check out our family sailing trip on the south coast of Chania and discover amazing beaches reserved for the few!
    • We highly recommend that you also visit Glyka Nera Beach.
    Marmara beach Crete DP-min

    6. Trafoulas Beach

    A mesmerizing landscape and one of the most beautiful beaches of southern Crete,Trafoulas (aka Dragon Bay) is located 69km south of the city of Heraklion. Driving there is an experience in itself, with breathtaking views of the Libyan Sea and the imposing cliffs of Asterousia Mountains.

    To get there you need to drive 4km east of the popular beach of Lendas to a small port and then up a dirt road for about 500m. At the top of the road you will see the gorge of Trafoulas and the stairs that lead down to the ravine.

    The beach is long with sand in most parts and white rocks in the middle that look like marble sculptures! The water is spectacular, and the landscape completely wild and typical of southern Crete.

    Extra info & tips:

    • Total walking distance from the parking spot: 20-30 minutes
    • There is not a lot of shade on the beach, so make sure you have an umbrella!
    • Head to one of the two ends of the beach, where there is more sand and the water is usually calmer.
    • The water gets deep quite fast, so beware if you are traveling with young kids
    • According to mythology, this was the favorite beach of King Minos and his men!
    Trafoulas Beach Cretan Beach
    Photo credit: Cretan Beaches

    7. Sougia Beach and E4 trail to Lissos

    The coastal settlement of Sougia is one of the most popular destinations of southern Chania, as here you will find a magnificent beach, a variety of taverns and accommodation options, but also the crossroad of the famous E4 hiking trail.

    Adventurous families should definitely walk on this trail to reach the charming archaeological site and beach of Lissos, a hidden gem of Crete.

    To get there you need to walk on the E4 trail starting west of Sougia that leads into a gorge next to the small harbor. The route is fascinating, as it crosses the narrow passages of the gorge and later leads up to a plateau with breathtaking views to the sea from the one side and the mountains from the other.

    Next, the trail continues downhill towards the sea and the archaeological site of Lissos, where nature intrudes on the remains of ancient civilization. Don’t miss the ancient Asclepieion (healing temple dedicated to god Asclepius) built in the 3rd century B.C and the church next to the beach constructed with the remains of an ancient temple.

    Take your time to walk around, as ancient relics are hidden literally everywhere, inside the bushes and under the carob trees, a perfect adventure for your little ones! Finally, don’t forget to swim in the lovely pebble beach of Lissos before you head back to Sougia.

    Extra info & tips:

    • Total walking distance: 1.30 to 2 hours
    • Bring lots of water, your sunblock and hats for the walk
    • In Lissos you will find a small resting area under the shades of carob trees and a water spring to fill your bottles.
    • There are no amenities in Lissos, so bring your own snacks as you will end up staying longer than planned!
    • If you wish to skip the walk, you can hire a boat from Sougia to visit Lissos
    Like an old and lost mysterious lost city, the ancient Greek ruins of Lissos (near Sougia) in Crete Island, Greece DP-min

    8. Eligia Beach

    The beautiful sandy beach of Eligia is located east of the coastal settlement of Ai Gianni’s village, at the exit of an imposing gorge. However, to reach it you need to be armed with patience and ready to leave behind the comforts of organized tourism.

    The drive itself can be tiring, as you need to climb up and then down the steep Asterousia mountains, and the last 30 minutes or so you will be driving on a difficult dirt road. However, one thing is for sure: it is totally worth the effort! The ascetic landscape of Asterousia is like no other you will ever see, and the experience will stay with you for a long time.

    We suggest you plan to stay there at least one night, so you will have enough time to explore the area. Swim in sparkling waters, discover hidden bays, and walk the trail starting from Eligia to the idyllic temple of Agios Antonios, or even further, to Koudoumas Monastery. At the end of the day you might be tired, but also proud of yourselves that you conquered this remote and wild area of Crete!

    Extra info & tips:

    • Total walking time from Eligia beach to Agios Antonios cave: 40 minutes – 1 hour and to Koudouma Monastery: 2 hours.
    • There are no umbrellas and sunbeds in Eligia, but you will find basic amenities, taverns and cafes in Ai Giannis.
    • Be extra careful when driving there, as the route can be difficult in some parts
    • As the drive is long and tiring, and the area full of treasures to discover, we suggest you stay overnight. You can camp in Eligia beach if it’s not too windy, or rent a room in Ai Giannis.
    • Another option is to book accommodation and a tour with the 4×4 vehicles of Thalori Mountain retreat that will take you to all places of interest in safety
    • It is also worth visiting the Monastery of Ai Giannis, carved into the natural rock with amazing centuries-old frescoes.
    Photo credit: Cretan Beaches Roniotis

    9. Tripiti Beach

    An amazing beach 67km from Heraklion, set at the southern slopes of Asterousia Mountains, Trupiti is ideal for families who want to experience the wild side of Crete but also have some basic amenities around.

    To get there you need to drive through Messara valley and up the mountains. The last 2km is a dirt road in a relatively good condition (no need for 4×4) and just before you reach the beach you will cross a breathtaking part of the canyon where the two walls almost meet and fits only one car! Right after crossing the “gate”, make a stop to visit the lovely temple of Panagia, carved inside a cave. Finally, get ready for a refreshing swim in crystal clear waters!

    Extra info & tips:

    • Tripiti may be isolated but it can get crowded in August and on weekends, especially with locals who (unfortunately) have the bad habit of parking their cars right on the beach.
    • The rocks around Trupiti are full of small caverns, perfect for endless exploration, and there are also trails leading to small secluded beaches nearby
    • There are two taverns in Trupiti and you can find shade under the salt cedars
    • The western end of the beach is perfect for cliff diving (and safe for kids!)
    Tripiti Beach Cretan Beaches
    Photo credit: Cretan Beaches

    10. Red Sand Beach

    A beautiful secluded beach with amazing reddish sand right next to the tourist settlement of Matala. To reach the Red sand beach you first need to drive to Matala and walk on a mountain trail for about 30-40 minutes.

    There you will find a small canteen serving drinks and snacks, an open-air “exhibition” of stone sculptures that kids will love, sunbeds and umbrellas. Note that this is a nudist beach, so it is perfect for both naturist and adventurous families!

    Extra info & tips:

    • Total walking time: 30-40 minutes
    • Bring water, hats and sunblock for the hike, as there is not a lot of shade throughout the trail
    • If you do not wish to walk, you can take a boat from Matala to the red sand beach.
    • Don’t leave without visiting the famous Matala caves!
    Red Sand Beach near Matala Roniotis Cretan Beaches
    Red Sand Beach near Matala SourceL Roniotis from Cretan Beaches

    Best season to visit

    • summer
    • autumn
    • winter
    • spring
    • All
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