Crete is considered to have one of the most beautiful and exotic sand beaches NOT ONLY in Greece but in the whole world too!
Crete island from above; I took this photo from an airplane

Situated between the southern side of the Aegean Sea and the northern side of the Libyan Sea, Crete represents a pure hidden gem of Mediterranean. Although the island gets busy during summer, you are still able to find your peace and a hidden beach just for yourself! Do not forget that island is huge and if you rent a car or any similar vehicle, I assure you will be finding your own little piece of heaven.

Aerial photo from an Transavia airplane towards Crete island
We were flying with Transavia from Rotterdam, The Netherlands to Heraklion, Greece

And the best part is: Crete beaches have remarkable natural beauty, crystal-clear water, amazing turquoise color, red/black/white/pink sand, wilderness…In this wild island you can find both secluded and organized beaches with more than 100 of them being labeled with a Blu Flags which indicate cleanness, helpful amenities, safety…

Underwater photo of Cretan sea

Whether you are couple, a solo traveler, family, a group or elderly couple, Crete has something for every taste! If you are visiting Crete during late summer months, pay attention to strong winds blow during those months creating large waves, and do take extra care of yourself by avoiding swimming near cliffs especially if you are not a skilled swimmer.

CBD Hemp

This post covers my top 10 Crete beaches so keep scrolling to get inspired and refresh your bucket list!

A sea star and a shell from Cretan sea, Greece


Kedrodasos beach in Crete

Kedrodasos beach has hardly any development around, being peaceful and quiet. I have never seen such a beauty in my life, at the same time whitest and the darkest sand. Lush jungle and emerald waters that remind you of a pool are looking like a pure paradise. I almost couldn’t believe it is real.

Kedrodasos beach in Crete island, Greece

This beach is my favorite beach in the whole world – so far due to its uniqueness and preserved ecosystem. Surprisingly, I have not seen many bloggers or sites mentioning this hidden gems, which is in a way-great! I would not be happy seeing this places overcrowded same as Elafonisi. So please, if you plan to stroll over this beach and take a swim, make sure to not leave any traces behind.

Cedar forest beach or Kedrodasos Beach lies well hidden on the south west coast, right next to the hustle and bustle of Elafonisi beach (1km).

Kedrodasos beach, Crete island

Kedrodasos is surely still a remaining paradise on the island. Framed by one of the few cedar forests of Crete, it has some dunes and some rocks. This is certainly due to hard-to-find way, and the entirely unsuitable dusty rough road for tour buses (how nice!). When you park your car, you will still need to walk down around 10 min. Believe me, it is a really nice path and you’d totally enjoy the route.

Kedrodasos white and black sand beach in Crete island

AMENITIES: Fortunately, there are no facilities nearby, making this secluded beach as one of the last untouched paradises in Europe and completely different from all other Crete beaches. Only trash bins are amenities here so keep it clean and take the trash with you when you leave. Kedrodasos is a nudist friendly, although it is not officially a nudist beach.

PRO TIP: The path to the beach is a bit tricky and you better have a look on the map before going there or just follow GPS like we did! To get easier there, follow the European path E4 crosses Kedrodasos (there are yellow and black signs everywhere).


Footsteps in Red Sand Beach in Matala village, Crete island Greece

Red Sand Beach, also called Kokkini Ammos Beach has one of the most remarkable and untouched landscapes featuring azure waters, incredibly red-orange like-sand, and the occasional visit by local goats.

Funny goat in Red Beach Crete island

The beach is named after the reddish rocks of the region. The gorgeous blue water is just stunning and makes a perfect contrast to the white limestone cliffs and red sand.

Red Sand Beach in Matala Crete

You can get here either by boat or hiking. This beach is quite isolated but it can get crowded during the day so make sure to come early. Besides, hiking 30 minutes on a heavy sun can be exhausting but also dangerous.

Hiking to Red Sand Beach in Crete

You can get here either by boat or hiking. This beach is quite isolated but it can get crowded during the day so make sure to come early. Besides, hiking 30 minutes on a heavy sun can be exhausting but also dangerous.

A feather in red sand beach of Crete

The right side of the beach is reserved for nudists: do not be shy and do not stare, nudists are still people. 🙂 Start your route from the restaurant Scala and the Red Beach sign. The hike up to the hill, down and again up, wil last about 30 min depending on your fitness level. The path is not proper, more rough scramble over rocks and marked only by blue arrows painted on the rocks. It all boils down to this: bring enough water, sun protection, a hat, some food and enjoy in Red Beach!

Orange and red sand in Matala village Crete island

AMENITIES: One bar, sometimes sun umbrellas, nudist friendly, soft sand.

PRO TIP: Find a free parking under the mountain on the left side after you enter Matala village. From there you can even hike up to Red Beach. This pathway is faster, but lot harder – only for advanced hikers and people in a good shape.


Balos Lagoon Crete island

The pure beauty and uniqueness that lagoon of Balos offers is sure to warm your heart.
Balos is a home to dazzling turquoise and blue water with exquisite views. Those views are keeping you glued to many viewpoints by evoking some magical and peaceful states that are part of our mysterious minds. This beach has a stunning white sand with pastel pink shades in some places that indeed add a dreamy feeling to whole atmosphere.

Balos Lagoon in Crete island

I have seen here one of the most beautiful sunsets in my entire life. This heavenly place will remain etched in your memory forever with its exotic blue, warm water and sand that literally cuddles your feet. Did I mention you should bring or buy here a proper diving mask? Let me elaborate…beyond the rocks at the boundaries of the lagoon, the water becomes deeper and colder which makes it perfect for snorkeling. Lagoon of Balos has many rare species of flora and fauna so the entire area is protected under the Natura 2000 program.

Sunset view on Baloos Lagoon in Crete island

The Balos Lagoon, Peninsula of Gramvousa and the Tigani Peninsula are under the Natura 2000 program protection. That means the following is prohibited:

  • Leaving your rubbish
  • Taking rocks, fossils, shells, ancient finds, and plants from the area
  • Catching animals
  • Camping and overnight stay
  • Starting a fire and smoking around bushes and woodlands
  • Anything that might threaten the ecosystem

You can get to Balos Lagoon by boat and partly by a car (later a hike). My boyfriend and I choose a car option, and we absolutely recommend it! Why? I will explain…
Renting a fully insured car and enjoying a crazy ride on dirty roads of Crete island is nothing but a pure adventure! Just drive very slowly, and be prepared to constantly swerve back and forth to avoid potholes and goats in the road. Afterall, it is all part of the experience!

The view on Balos Lagoon in Crete

We started from Kaliviani village (around 40 min driving). In the end of the road, we left our vehicle at the parking space and then followed the path for hiking (about 1,5 km – 30 min walking). Unfortunately we were not swimming in lagoon as we started late and reached our goal when Balos was closed.

AMENITIES: sun umbrellas, sunbeds, some food and water

PRO TIP: hike carefully and try not to get distracted while walking down the steps. If you come just before sunset time, be prepared not to experience Balos from down. Balos closes around 8PM and overnight as well as camping is not allowed!


Roman tombs in  Matala Crete island

Let me walk you through Matala; one of the most popular destinations of Crete and certainly the most famous beach of Heraklion. Matala has become known for its caves, actually Roman tombs and hippies that found their paradise amd lived in this village in the 60s and 70s. Surprisingly, lots of people still live in caves across this area so don’t be surprised to see them along your adventures and explorations.

Sandy beach in Crete

Each year in summer, you can join Matala Beach Festival where great artists and souls gather to celebrate life and all the good thing that surrounds us. During the past, this place attracted celebrities such as Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens.

Matala village in Crete island Greece

AMENITIES: sun umbrellas, bars, restaurants, toilet, help for disabled persons, Blue Flag, soft sand, trash bins…

Matala village in Crete island

PRO TIP: Walk towards all the bars and restaurants and follow the path to the end. You will encounter two hammock in a cave like place with a stunning view.


Sunglasses and drops view

Elafonisi is truly a magical place that consists of a small islet full of white and pink sandy beaches. This place is stunningly gorgeous beyond every measure, with miles of shallow beaches. The pink sand adds to this one-of-a-kind experience. Waters are so shallow and therefore are ideal for families and children.

Pay attention to popularity of this beach. Elafonisi became a tourist hotspot due to placement on TripAdvisor’s 25 Best Beaches in the World list in 2014.

Elafonisi rooms and apartments to rent

The sand is shiny pink shade and soft. I did like the pure softness of the sand although it was not nothing much more softer than on any other sand beach in Crete. The problem is…I did not notice much of the pink sand. And although it is illegal to remove any of the sand, wildlife and plants from the area I guess is really true: everybody wants to take a pink souvenir home.? Sad world, if you ask me.

We shall respect the nature everywhere we go, leave no traces, only footprints and take only air.

That same light pink sand gets its hue from tiny pink crushed shells, broken coral pieces, and calcium carbonate materials, all of which fall to floor. The beach is also home to 110 different plant species!

AMENITIES: sun umbrellas, sunbeds, restaurants, bars, shops, trash bins…

PRO TIP: it’s definitely worth a visit but as early as possible in the morning. During the day when it gets crowded, pack your things and head over to close by Kedrodasos beach!


Cretan sea and Kokkinos Pirgos beach in Crete

Kókinos Pyrgos is inundated with the bluest of turquoise waters. This place took its name by a castle that was there during the time of Middle Ages and built from red clay earth.

Black sand beach in Kokkinos Pirgos

This small community is located just 2km away from Tymbaki. From its beach, you can enjoy in terrific view on Paximadia islands, two small uninhabited islands in the gulf of Mesara that can be reached via boat from Aghia Galini.

Sun umbrellas in Kokkinos Pirgos beach in Crete

AMENITIES: Docking facilities for sailing and fishing boats, bars, hotels, restaurants

Kokkinos Pirgos Crete island

PRO TIP: Surprise your palate in Red Castle Fish Tavern, feel and eat like a local person. We came back here even three times to have our dinner-it was that good!


Preveli beach view in Crete island

Beach of Preveli (Lake Preveli or Phoenix) is located at the exit of the imposing Kourtaliotikos Gorge, where the Great River (Megas Potamos) flows. During the 60s and 70s, it was a favorite destination for the hippies, same as Matala village. On the banks of the Grand River there is a large colony of Theophrastus palm trees, which give the region a sense of a tropical landscape. Here flows the river, forming a small lake, 1.5km long, and emptying into the sea which makes it a quite cold to swim and dive.

Preveli beach Crete

Kokkinos Pirgos (i.e. Red Tower) is located 67km west of Heraklion and close to the town of Tymbaki. The name is taken after a tower that was built with reddish soil in the mouth of Geropotamos river. It is the seaside village of Timbaki, the main port of the region and developed in tourism. In Kokkinos Pirgos you will find many hotels, rooms, restaurants and cafes. The climate of the region is generally warm and many locals deal with growing fresh vegetables in greenhouses.

Preveli beach in Crete island

The palm tree forest of Preveli is located below the monastery of Preveli, at the mouth of the Kourtaliótiko gorge. It is a forest of endemic Cretan date palm Phoenix theophrastii and the second largest palm forest in Crete after Vai in the East of the island. Fossils and bones of giant tortoises, crocodiles, squirrels, wild boars, antelopes and many other animals have been discovered in this area being unique and dating from ancient times.

Palm trees in Preveli beach in Crete island

The palm tree forest of Preveli is located below the monastery of Preveli, at the mouth of the Kourtaliótiko gorge. It’s a forest of endemic Cretan date palm Phoenix theophrastii and the second largest palm forest in Crete after Vai in the East of the island. Fossils and bones of giant tortoises, crocodiles, squirrels, wild boars, antelopes and many other animals have been discovered in this area being unique and dating from ancient times.

Palm tree forest

AMENITIES: small restaurant, no staying overnight and no any other amenities such as sun umbrellas. However, the beach is not well organized because the area is completely protected.

PRO TIP: the best seasons to visit are spring and autumn; May/June, then September/October when the beach is less crowded.


This beach is a breathtaking and we noticed and already from a near by restaurant located above. Just 500m north from the Kalami village, nature created this beautiful beach with deep water and round pebbles. There are not many pebble beaches in Crete so this was very refreshing. Close by you can find a tiny harbor with boats. This beach is not crowded with tourists but many locals come here to take a swim.

Kalami beach in Crete

AMENITIES: some umbrellas and a few tamarisk trees to provide you shade, many restaurants above the beach and accomodation places, tiny coves near by.

PRO TIP: you don’t want to miss he ancient city of Aptera and the Turkish forts of Intzedin and Aptera that are close by to Kalami beach. Here’s the interesting part: if you go just 100m on the east, you will encounter Atherina, one of the nicest private beaches in this area. You can explore another secret bay on the west.


I call this piece of paradise an unknown beach, because I have no idea what is the name of it. Unfortunately, I have lost many of my Google Map locations, so I ended up searching for places. I am still trying to find the name of this beach and hopefully I will succeed (NOTE: Crete has more than 300 beaches so it is not an easy job!)

A hidden beach in Crete island Greece

As soon as I find the name, I will post it on my Instagram Stories!

Crete island beach

For now, all I know about this beach is that you have to drive for a while along diry unprotected road and you end up close to a small monastery with few priests that live there. You have to walk for a while and get down the long stairs to get to this beach. It is a wonderful, hidden and pebble beach surrounded by rocks.

Hidden beach in Crete island

Basically, you will find no one here only Kri-Kri goats which is an incredible.

Kri-Kri goats Cretan Ibex in Greece


PRO TIP: Do not forget your diving mask! Pay attention to goats as they love to sneak on bags and food.


Crete island beaches

Another unknown beach that is on my list to investigate. It is actually a small hidden cove next to large beach with plenty of crowds, a bar, sun umbrellas and sun beds.
We spot this secret beauty while swimming and we realized we can reach it from the coast side or simply by swimming.

Crete island rocks

If you go a bit deeper inside, some weird looking rocks will make your shade. The sand is super soft, black and brown in some parts. The sea is so crystal clear and you will love diving here. We also found a bunny ear cactus above and we ate some prickly pear fruits.

AMENITIES: None here, but there are some just 4 min walking.

Crete island beach

PRO TIP: Come here early because the beach is so tiny and later you might have some guests.

Black sand in Crete island
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One of the best ways, through ecological networks such as Natura 2000 & also with the help of environmental associations and stricter site regulations.

If you liked my article and you think it’s helpful for some future travels, share it with others on your social media! ♡


This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Lisa

    WOW, so many fabulous beach choices!!

  2. Alexandra Lynne Booze

    Crete looks like it would warm the soul..and the body! Wow. Those beaches. What I wouldn’t give to be on the black sand beach right at this moment. Will have to keep this place in mind for future travels.

    1. Thank you for checking it out dear Alexandra! I think Crete should be on everyone’s bucket list, it’s so perfect! 🙂

  3. Selam

    I went to Crete a couple years ago and loooved it! Its beaches are gorgeous. I really hope to make it back again.

  4. Taylor

    I totally need to get to Crete next time I go to Greece! These beaches look absolutely beautiful. 🙂

  5. Have always wanted to go to Crete for the archeology will add beaches to the list too now

    1. Indeed! Minoans left their mark around the island. Red Sand beach is full of drawings! Thank you for reading! 🙂

  6. Cass

    I would love to do this trip and see all these wonderful places! Loved your photos, made me feel I was write there with you.

    1. Thank you dear Cass! I worked hard for this post as I wanted to present Crete just the way it is – magical!

  7. Cass

    *right… 🙂

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