Top Beaches of Crete: The Ultimate Guide to Cretan Coastline

A top beach in Crete with clear blue water.

If you’re looking for a relaxing island vacation, look no further. Crete and its picture-perfect beaches are the place to go. 

Welcome to the list of the top Cretan beaches! Follow us on a journey to discover the finest coastal treasures of this island. In the next paragraphs, we’ll take you around Chania, Rethymno, and Heraklio. There, we’ll introduce you to crystal-clear waters, rock formations, a palm forest, and the peaceful coastal gems of Northern Crete. Read until the very end; we have a little bonus for you at the end. So let’s dive in! (pun intended) 😉

Discover the Top 5 Beaches in Northern Crete

Northwest: Chania Region

On the western end of the island, around the city of Chania, you’ll find gorgeous lagoons and beaches. They seem almost like paradise on Earth, and guess what! You can pair these lovely spots with unique glamping sites. Check out this cozy wooden trailer, or this charming Lemon Garden stay for your memorable vacation. 

1. Elafonisi Beach

How does crystal-clear and pink sand sound to you? Elafonisi is a true jewel of the Cretan coastline. It lies in the remote southwest corner of Crete, just a short drive from Chania. This captivating lagoon attracts both locals and tourists. It offers sunbeds and umbrellas for rent and has family-friendly shallow waters. This beach is popular among people so if you prefer more solitude, follow the naturists and head east off the main beach. There you’ll find a more secluded stretch of sand. Remember to check the weather before you go because Elafonisi can be quite windy. However, if you enjoy water sports, you can try kiteboarding, windsurfing, jet skiing, and other activities. Check out this website for more info on water sports in Elafonisi. 

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2. Seitan Limania Beach

Out of sight and secluded is the secret cove of Seitan Limania. Head down the rocky path to this small yet popular cretan beach. The cliffs offer a nice shelter from the wind and comfortable swimming conditions, but they also limit the sunlight to only six hours. Despite it’s popularity this beach is not organized, and you won’t find any amenities nearby. We advise you to arrive here early and bring your own snacks and water. Nevertheless, the combination of the narrow gorge and the azure water is worth it. Make sure you don’t skip one of the best beaches in the Chania region on your next Cretan getaway.

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3. Balos Beach

This lagoon lies in northwestern Crete and is accessible by boat from Kissamos port. Connected to an offshore island, Balos prides itself in its shallow and calm lagoons, white sand, and crystal-clear blue waters. It’s perfect for families with young children but if you’re an adventurous soul, consider trekking or driving to Balos. This way you can escape the big crowds that arrive by ferries and enjoy more solitude. You can also take your chance at exploring the deeper and colder waters beyond the lagoon’s boundaries with your snorkel. So whether you opt for the morning ferry from Kissamos, drive along the dirt road from Kaliviani, or embark on a thrilling three-hour trek through the rugged landscape, Balos Beach is worth it!

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Uncovering Best Beaches of Central Crete

In Central Crete, between the city of Rethymno and Heraklion, you’ll find the village called Bali which offers a cluster of beaches and coves to enjoy. But besides a beautiful coastline you’ll also find a couple remarkable glamping stays around Rethymno. Take a look at this charming treehouse, or a gorgeous safari tent.

4. Livadi Beach

Bali is a well-reachable destination perfect for a relaxing beach day or two. There are several lovely coves, most of them provide umbrellas, and sun-beds. Besides that there are water sport options for adventure seekers. You can rent out pedalos, kayaks, and paddle boards among others and what is more, there are plenty of tavernas, cafés, and souvenir shops all around. Our recommendation is the sandy Livadi beach which offers the best of both worlds, the comfort of a well-organized beach in the west, and the peacefulness of a secluded cove in the east. 

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Discover the Best Beach in Western Crete

Besides gorgeous Cretan beaches, the East of the island offers some very unique glamping stays. Check out a comfy bell tent, a luxurious pod with a sea view, or even a cozy caravan with a pool.

5. Vai Beach

The most stunning beach in Western Crete is surely Vai Beach. The palm forest that decorates it is a refuge for both beachgoers and endemic and endangered birds and animals. Due to legal restrictions, the majority of the amenities are on the parking lot rather than at the beach. During the summer season, the parking lot is full of temporary services such as food and drinks, beach chairs, and umbrellas to rent. Moreover, the nearby monastery runs a restaurant right on the beach that serves delicious Cretan food. To enjoy this place to the fullest, you should get there early because it gets very crowded during the summer season. And if you prefer a more peaceful beach day, head to the north end of the beach to get away from the umbrellas and lounges and relax on the sand.

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Bonus: Uncover the Top Beaches of Southern Crete

We’ve covered the north of the island, but it would be a sin to skip over a couple of Southern Crete’s jewels.

Preveli Beach

It is located south of Rethymno; it has a palm tree forest, rock formations, and a river flowing into the sea. What is it? It’s Preveli Beach!
This peaceful place is a protected natural reserve, so you won’t find any facilities, showers, toilets, sunbeds, or umbrellas here. However, you will find taverns further up the road that leads to this beach. To get there, you can drive past the Monastery of Kato Preveli, leave your car on the parking lot about a kilometer from there, and hike down the hill. Or you can drive to Drimiskiano Ammoudi Beach and walk for five minutes to get there more easily. Option one will reward you with a stunning view, but option two will save you a challenging hike back up to your car. So if you’re planning to visit the south of Crete, give yourself a nice little beach getaway at Preveli; it’s worth it.

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Triopetra Beach

If you’re looking for an organized yet peaceful Cretan beach, Triopetra is the one for you. There are some umbrellas and sun beds, a few taverns, and water sports to enjoy. Despite the many amenities and services it offers, the beach doesn’t get too crowded, even in the high season. It’s renowned for its three impressive rock formations and crystal-clear waters. To get there, head to Akoumia village and then continue driving along a rather tricky path. Then, as you’re about to reach the beach, continue on foot for about 5 more minutes. At last, take a dip, walk around, and spend the day enjoying all the nooks and crannies of this lovely and photogenic beach.

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There you go! That was our ultimate list of the most beautiful Cretan beaches. We think it only proves that Crete must really be a piece of paradise on Earth. You should visit at least a handful of them next time you pay Crete a visit. Hopefully we intrigued you and you’re already buying your tickets. 😉


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