Red Beach, Crete

Red Beach near Matala, Crete, has a perfect combo of picturesque location and laid-back atmosphere. As the rumor goes, it was first discovered by hippies, and luckily it hasn’t been discovered by mass tourism yet. Perhaps it helps that you need to walk up and down a trail to reach the beach, but it’s worth every step. Thanks to it, you also get a bird-eye view of the beach itself and surroundings.

view 0000 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

You can see that its sand isn’t exactly red, rather dark orange, and it changes its shade when wet.

view 0002 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

I enjoyed lying in that warm big-grain sand without a towel.

naturist 0000 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

Mr Sandman and the purple rock 🙂

naturist 0001 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

The water was perfect for swimming and snorkeling: clear, calm and balmy.

view 0003 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

We took a different trail on the way back, which provided yet another great view. We stayed there for a day, but there is a campground nearby, if you want to stay longer.

view 0001 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

A palm grove and a cove near Tsoutsouros, Crete

This place is kind of lost in time and feels as remote as it gets on Crete. This island is quite populated  and visited by millions of tourists, but if you want to stay in the middle of [beautiful] nowhere, camp here for a night or two.

view 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

I don’t even know what this place is called: if you look at Google maps, it says ‘Kefalovrisi’ above this spot, but this name is not mentioned anywhere else. The nearest village is Tsoutsouros. The sign was very welcoming 😉

Crete, Greece

We got an idea to visit it, because we read it was one of only a handful of places with natural palm tree growth in Crete (and in Greece, and actually Europe overall). Cretan date palm is only one of the two palm species native to European continent (the other one being dwarf fan palm that I saw near Sitges). There is a couple of bigger palm forests in Crete, but they seem to be located in more heavily visited parts of the island. This grove was mentioned on some websites though, and we decided to check it out.

view 0001 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

On the way from a small village called Tsoutsouros, we hardly saw any cars/people, but we were welcomed by numerous goats.

goat 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

The goats seemed to be curious about such rare visitors, but they were neither afraid of us nor did they bother us.

view 0006 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

The palm grove provided a very picturesque view giving the place Middle-Eastern touch.

naturist 0008 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

While such a palm grove would be easier to find somewhere in North Africa or Middle East, it would be difficult to find one where we could walk around naked, so we had to put to good use the fact that we could do it there in Crete.

naturist 0006 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

I was certainly in a posing mood, of which Joe gladly took advantage.

naturist 0007 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

I tried to climb one of the palm trees (I often do, as you may know), naturist 0003 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

but it was more difficult than it seemed.

naturist 0004 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

So I resorted to some classical poses 🙂

naturist 0005 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

While we were busy with nude photography, two hoopoes sat on the shrub nearby, but unfortunately we didn’t have a tele-lens handy, so these are the best pictures we could snatch.

hoopoe 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greecehoopoe 0001 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

After having spent quite a bit of time at the palm grove, we decided to go down and check access to the sea.

naturist 0012 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We saw a lonely palm-tree hidden between the cliffs by the water and thought it should be a nice place to hang out. I couldn’t help thinking of a poem by Mikhail Lermontov about a lonely pine-tree covered by snow somewhere in the North and dreaming of similarly lonely palm-tree on a sunburnt rock somewhere in the South.

date palm 0000 Crete, Greece

When we came down, we were certain to keep the lonely palm-tree a company for the evening and night:

naturist 0002 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

there was a cozy cave under the rock with a nice view,

view 0005 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

and a cove with easy access to the sea on the other side.

view 0007 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

Some rock formations around had quite peculiar shapes, especially at dusk.

view 0002 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We left for another walk

naturist 0010 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

and saw the full moon rise above the sea.

view 0003 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

 

naturist 0009 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We found some dried bases of palm leaves scattered around that we thought would make a perfect firewood.

naturist 0011 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

The night was very warm, as it usually happens in September in Crete, but you cannot spoil the night with a bit of fire.

naturist 0001 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We also ventured for a night swim under the starry sky, and that was where I saw the brightest bioluminescence ever! Unfortunately, my underwater camera still wouldn’t be able to catch it. But we were mesmerized by the phenomenon: the water in the cove was very calm and clear, and the bioluminescent plankton would react to any movement in water; it was especially spectacular to see another person swimming underwater.

view 0008 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We woke up quite late in the morning, as we were protected from the sun by the rock.

naturist 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

Cretan pastry was a perfect energy-rich addition to our breakfast!

cretan pastry 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

So we went for another swim in the morning, all the way around the cliffs, where we saw some other people sunbathing and swimming (also naked). This time we didn’t see anything spectacular in the water… until the very end, when I spotted a bearded fireworm. Well, at that moment I didn’t know the exact name, I only knew it was a representative of polychaete, a distant relative of earth worms… Neither did I know that it was a very dangerous animal actually! According to Wikipedia, the bearded fireworm “is not considered a threat to humans unless touched by a careless swimmer. The bristles, when flared, can penetrate human skin, injecting a powerful neurotoxin and producing intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the area of contact. The sting can also lead to nausea and dizziness. This sensation lasts up to a few hours, but a painful tingling can continue to be felt around the area of contact. In a case of accidental contact, application and removal of adhesive tape will help remove the spines; applying alcohol to the area will also help alleviate the pain.”

bearded fireworm 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

Luckily, at that moment I was just happy observing how that fireworm was moving graciously through the algae on the rocks…

goats 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

As we were leaving, again only goats were around to say good-bye.

goats 0001 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

goats 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

It was quite a dangerous ride uphill on a dirt road, but it gave us another chance for a glance over the cove.

view 0004 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

Glyko Nero Beach/Sweet Water Beach in South-West Crete

Almost all beaches in south-west Crete are clothing-optional, except perhaps only central town beaches. Many of them are connected with famous E4 hiking trail, so you can walk between them… or maybe swim?

Well, I’m joking, Anidri and GLyko Nero beaches are quite far from each other. Glyko Nero Beach (Sweet Water Beach), as its name suggests, has some underground freshwater springs. Thus this place is ideal for camping. Just dig a half-meter hole in the send, if there are not any already, and you’ll get fresh cold water. Regardless, you won’t die from hunger or thirst there anyway, as there is also a tavern. As the beach is turned to the south and surrounded by high walls of steep rocks,

view 0000 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece

it can get very hot there unless there’s a strong breeze from the sea. But there are some trees providing good shade,
view 0001 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece

and also a plenty of umbrellas from the tavern.

We spent most of the time swimming.

 

naturist 0001 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece

The sea water is very clean and has intense dark-blue color.

naturist 0000 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece

Unless you hit the freshwater spring at the water edge, it is also very warm; and certainly, this beach has one of the clearest waters I’ve seen.

view 0002 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece

 
Even late in the evening it was so warm, we couldn’t help laughing about advice that we received on the previous day that we should take warm clothes and gloves for the night.
naturist 0002 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece

At night, thanks to the cliffs surrounding the beach, it is very quiet and dark there, because no light comes from neighbouring town. Perfect to watch stars! As there was no moon, they were so bright that Milky Way even reflected in the water! And when we looked in the water, we saw that it was full of flashing “stars” itself. Bioluminescent plankton was so abundant (at least in the end of September, when we were there), that anytime I moved my hand in the water there were flashes around, as these organisms respond to mechanical disturbance with glowing. This is why they also flash a lot, when waves break onto the shore. I would highly recommend to swim at night (with goggles) to see how the water glows around you and your swimming buddy.
However, be careful with the above mentioned cliffs – don’t build you camp to close to them, because once in while some rocks were falling down, sometimes because of the goats jumping. They like coming to this beach to drink fresh water in those man-made holes, and you can see their incredible ability to walk on nearly vertical cliffs. 

naturist 0004 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece
But we had fun climbing those rocks ourselves too

naturist 0006 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece

and then were diving from them.

naturist 0007 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece

To get to Glyko Nero beach you may use a small former fishing boat which comes from Hora Sfakion directly to the tavern twice per day at about 10:00 and 17:00, or like we and many hikers, come by E4 hiking trail. From Hora Sfakion, you can also first go by car in the direction of Loutro till the sign E4 Glyko Nero/Sweet Water Beach. However you get there, you’ll surely love this beach!

naturist 0005 Glyko Nero beach, Crete, Greece

Samaria Gorge and beach at Agia Roumeli in South-West Crete

Samaria Gorge and beach at Agia Roumeli provide a perfect combo of adventure and secluded relaxation. Samaria is the longest gorge in Europe, 12.4km, so be prepared to walk for several hours. The good news is that you don’t need to carry water with you (maybe just keep half a liter with you), as there are springs at regular distances. It is a very popular national reserve with regular buses departing from Hania and other towns of Crete. It is better to ask in advance if the gorge is open on the day you want to go there, because it may be closed under some weather conditions.

First, you will descend by very well organized hiking trail with magnificent views over the gorge and mountains around.

view 0000 Samaria gorge, Crete, Greece

The second part of the route lies in the river bed (during summer Samaria River comes to the surface only in some parts) between vertical rock walls up to 300m high.
view 0002 Samaria gorge, Crete, Greece
That is especially impressive in several points where the cliffs from both sides get really close to each other, just few meters apart! It can be dangerous as the signs say, and we heard once quite a terrifying noise of falling rocks somewhere aside.

view 0001 Samaria gorge, Crete, Greece

During the first half of our walk, the trail was often overcrowded with tens, if not hundreds, of people literally rushing one by one. Later we realized why they were in such a hurry: the ferries from Agia Roumeli, a village in the end of the gorge, leave to Hora Sfakion and Paleochora at about 16:30. This is why almost all hikers try to walk the whole way in about 6 hours. Luckily we were going to camp in the end, so we spent almost 10 hours in the gorge and could enjoy all astonishing views.

So, during last 3 hours of our walk, after these settlements, our only encounters were feral goats and kri-kri, Cretan subspecies of wild goats, endemic to the island.

view 0003 Samaria gorge, Crete, GreeceAfter eating in a tavern in Agia Roumeli, we went to look for a camping place. A small pinery just left of the isthmus of the Samaria River was already occupied by half a dozen campers, so we continued looking for a place for our tent further on the beach in the dark… and we found it! An entire cave had been waiting for us exclusively 🙂 What was especially pleasing was that the floor in the cave was of fine dry soft sand, whereas the beach itself was mainly covered by pebbles, many of tennis ball size, very inconvenient to walk on. The cave had accumulated the warmth of the day, so not only did we not need to go inside our tent, we even did not need to cover! Watching the starry sky from the cave felt like in a cinema. The only problem was that the noise of waves echoed in the cave and thus doubled, so don’t expect quiet, but the sound of sea is your thing, you’ll be happy.

 

naturist 0000 Agia Roumeli beach, Crete, Greece

In the late morning next day, a few people came to the beach, but the cave remained pretty much our own.

naturist 0007 Agia Roumeli beach, Crete, Greece
With quite strong waves, the water there gets full of air bubbles, and it gives it incredibly intensive light-blue color… somewhat resembling the Greek flag =)

naturist 0004 Agia Roumeli beach, Crete, Greece
Further to the east lies another beach Agios Pavlos with an old church from Byzantine times, but unfortunately we did not have time to go there – it’s good to keep something for the next time, we thought.

Right next to the cave, there were some interesting rock formations.naturist 0002 Agia Roumeli beach, Crete, Greece

While swimming around, we found some rocks offshore with sort of bathtubs on them.

naturist 0006 Agia Roumeli beach, Crete, Greece

How cool, after a bathtub, you can dive into the sea!

naturist 0003 Agia Roumeli beach, Crete, Greece
And getting back to our cave I couldn’t resist imagining myself as a caveman.

naturist 0000 Agia Roumeli, Crete, Greece

Though it was also nice to just lie down and relax there…

naturist 0001 Agia Roumeli beach, Crete, Greece

Hopefully this place will remain as beautiful and unspoiled as we found it!

Anidri/ Giliaskari Beaches east of Paleochora (South-West Crete).

A pretty long stretch of the seashore east of Paleochora has three pebbly beaches known as Anidri or Giliaskari. 

view 0001 Anidri beach, Crete, Greece
Pebbles of the third, easternmost, beach are very small, which make it very convenient to walk on in contrast to big pebbles on other two beaches. In any case, probably thanks to the pebble floor, the water there is incredibly transparent.

view 0002 Anidri beach, Crete, Greece

We were there on a very quiet day with almost no wind, so we also played frisbee (there was enough space to not bother anyone with that).

Then we had a few pleasant swims without any waves, so we could easily practice different styles, mostly breaststroke

and front crawl.


Giliaskari beaches are well organized, with cafes, small taverns and outdoor showers – all well integrated with natural surroundings.

view 0000 Anidri beach, Crete, Greece
And we really enjoyed those outdoor showers in the sun 😎

naturist 0001 Anidri beach, Crete, Greece

As it’s a pretty long walk back to the town of Paleochora, it’s not a bad idea to wash the salt off you skin.

By the way, this is one of few naturist places in Greece where we’ve seen an “official” warning board about nudism.

naturist 0003 Anidri beach, Crete, Greece
As if you couldn’t guess without it 🙂