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      Crete is an island of superlatives. It is the largest of the Greek islands, with an east-west span of about 250 kilometers and north-south spans that range from as little as 13 kilometers to as much as 60 kilometers. Crete is also the most populated Greek island, with over 600,000 residents. It is the only Greek island with more than one international airport. It is home to the largest natural palm grove in Europe. At a height of 2,456 meters (8,058 feet), Mount Ida, the highest point of Crete, is the highest mountain in any Greek island, and it has the highest topographic prominence of any mountain in Greece. Crete is also the cradle of Minoan civilization, the first advanced culture of Europe, dating as far back as 2700 BCE. Crete is the southernmost major Greek island, and the scattering of tiny islands farther south are considered satellite islands of Crete. Due to its southerly location, Crete has the longest tourist season of any part of Greece. Crete is also superlative to the naturist traveler. The island has more nude beaches than any other part of Greece, and it also has the largest naturist resort in the country.

      Crete has four regional units, each of which spans north to south all the way across the island. If you visualize taking a map of Crete and folding it in half twice along a vertical line, then each quadrant would roughly correspond to a regional unit. From west to east, those units are Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lasithi, and the first three of those (all but Lasithi) have names that correspond to their largest towns. Since there are so many listings for Crete, they are divided according to regional unit and coastal segment. The beaches described below are ordered roughly counterclockwise around the island, with occasional departures from strict geographic order when appropriate. Crete's naturist opportunities are mostly concentrated along the western half of the southern coast of the island, along a stretch that is comprised of the south coast of Chania, the south coast of Rethymno and the short west-facing part of the south coast of Heraklion.

North Coast     [ ↑ ]


      In a nutshell, the difference between Crete's north coast and its south coast is that the north coast is busy and bustling while the south coast is much quieter. The island's three largest towns (Heraklion, Chania and Rethymno, in order of size) are all located along the north coast, as are the island's airports and ferry ports. Most Cretans live toward the north coast, and the island's tourist development is heavily concentrated in the north. Furthermore, much more of the north coast is easily accessible compared to the south coast. Crete's major east-west road hews close to the northern coast, so getting from Point A to Point B along the north coast is generally much quicker and easier than getting around the south coast. While overall Crete has more to offer naturists than any other part of Greece, almost none of it is located along the north coast of the island. The few north coast locations that draw nude bathers are all quite minor compared to the nude beaches of the south, particularly those that are located along the western half of the southern coast.

      Hersonissos is a popular resort area located about 25 kilometers east of Heraklion. Amid the tourist development, Saradari Beach 35.3338N, 25.3846E   is tucked away below low cliffs, and nudity is well established on the more hidden half of the small beach. Most visitors go naked, and Saradari generally has more nude bathers than any other location on the north coast. As Saradari is considered the primary gay beach of the Heraklion area, the crowd is always heavily male, but there are usually some women in attendance, and the beach can feel quite crowded at times due to limited space.

      Much farther west along the north coast, Rethymno and Chania are about 60 kilometers apart, and three other north coast nudist possibilities are clustered between those towns. Closer to Rethymno than to Chania, Georgioupolis Beach 35.3556N, 24.2825E   is a long and popular beach that is lined with multiple beach bars, but a few nude bathers gather along a comparably remote, dune-backed part of the beach between two clusters of development. On the eastern outskirts of Chania, Kera Beach 35.4506N, 24.1823E   near Kalyves is a rather obscure beach that is very lightly attended, and while nudists are not always present at the beach, nudity is common among those who find their way there. Maherida Beach 35.5735N, 24.0767E   is located in Akrotiri, the distinctively shaped, roughly circular peninsula that juts northeastward from Chania. Maherida is a tiny, obscure beach that draws a small number of nudists in the know. Both Maherida and the nudist section of Georgioupolis are primarily gay beaches that draw few women, while the demographics of Kera are more variable.

West Coast—Chania     [ ↑ ]


      Falassarna Beach is a huge, sandy beach located toward the northern end of the western coast of Crete, about 15 kilometers by car from Kissamos. Beyond the main textile expanse of the beach, the sandy beach extends northward more than a kilometer, but clusters of boulders and rocky outcroppings break the northern realm of Falassarna into multiple coves. A few of the coves of Falassarna North Beach 35.5043N, 23.5767E   are popular with nude bathers.

South Coast—Chania     [ ↑ ]


      The southern coastline of Chania spans about 70 kilometers measured very roughly, not accounting for its undulations. The south shore of Chania is the most rugged part of the coastline of Crete. While many of southern Chania's coastal locations are accessible by road, there is not a continuous road that follows the entirety of the coastline, so getting from one place on the coast to another often involves a circuitous route through the mountains. There are even a few villages which aren't accessible by road at all.

      While there is not a road along the entirety of the southern Chania coastline, there is a hiking trail. The E4 is a trans-European hiking trail that runs from Portugal to the Peloponnesian peninsula of Greece, but there are two associated segments of the route that do not connect to the continental path because they are on islands: one in Crete and the other in Cyprus. The Cretan segment of the E4 is over 300 kilometers long, running in a generally east-west direction across the island, with many segments of the path coinciding with automobile roads. Die-hard hikers who attempt to traverse the entirety of the trail across Crete generally allow about three weeks. The E4 either follows or hews very close to the sea through the entire southern coast of Chania. The southern Chania segment of trail is the longest coastal segment of the Cretan E4. (In Rethymno, the path veers inland and remains inland all the way to the eastern end of the island.) While some parts of the E4 in southern Chania follow automobile roads, southern Chania has the longest expanses of the Cretan E4 that are just hiking trails, not coinciding with paved or dirt roads. Of the beaches described below, all except the Gavdos beaches are either along or very close to the E4 trail, so encountering nude bathers is a normal part of the experience for long-distance hikers. A couple of the beaches described below require short hikes of a kilometer or so along the E4, but the others are more directly accessible by car. In addition to the established nude beaches of southern Chania, you will find ample opportunities for nude bathing at more remote beaches along the E4 if you go for a hike, and fellow hikers aren't likely to bat an eye at the sight of a skinnydipper.

      At the extreme southwestern corner of Crete, Elafonisi Beach 35.2678N, 23.5286E   is among the more unique beaches of the island. Just off the main beach, there is a land mass that is either a peninsula or an island, depending on your point of view. The land mass is just barely disconnected from the main beach by a sandy reef that is slightly submerged, and that land mass is lined with pockets of sand that extend seaward for more than a kilometer. Nude bathing is commonplace on the more distant of those pocket beaches, in a spectacular setting that rivals any other nude beach in Crete. A comparably beautiful beach is Kedrodasos Beach 35.2686N 23.5631E  , which is less than 2 kilometers east of Elafonisi if you hike there, or about 4 kilometers away by car. Backed by an extensive area of dunes covered with stunted, twisted trees, Kedrodasos has lots of semi-secluded niches, and nude bathing occurs along peripheral areas of the beach.

      Going east from Kedrodasos, the coastal village of Kountoura is about 10 kilometers away via the E4, but it is over twice that distance to drive there via the shortest route, or even farther if you prefer to stay on paved roads. Kountoura (labeled as Gialos on Google Maps) is mostly a farming village. About 5 kilometers to the east, Paleochora caters to tourists. Each village offers a couple of beaches of interest to nudists. Just west of Kountoura, Krios Beach 35.2360N, 23.5929E   has a secluded niche that is lined with sunchairs during peak season, and it gets irregular nudist use, mainly during the off season. Starting at Krios Beach, a westward hike of about 1.2 kilometers along the E4 trail brings you to Viena Beach 35.2386N, 23.5804E  , where there are several patches of sand in a sheltered bay amid lots of boulders and the remains of an ancient temple. Viena is usually deserted, so it is not really an established nude beach, but it is an enchanting spot for a naked swim, particularly in the part of the bay that is almost completely enclosed, forming something of a natural swimming pool. Moving east to the next village, the main beach of Paleochora is simply named Paleochora Beach 35.2342N, 23.6756E  . Despite occasional grumblings from village officials, nudists gather at the northwest end of the sandy beach, occupying the last group of sunchairs. From Paleochora, an eastward drive of 4 kilometers along the coastline brings you to Gialiskari Beach 35.2389N, 23.7229E  , which consists of two nearby shingle beaches. The eastern beach is typically lined with two clusters of sunchairs and umbrellas during peak season, with nudists occupying the eastern cluster. Of the four options for nudists around Kountoura and Paleochora, Gialiskari generally has the most nude bathers.

      In the isolated village of Sougia, nude bathing is well established at one end of Sougia Beach 35.2484N, 23.8163E  , where visitors often make beach art from the pebbles that thickly layer the beach. Sougia is located on a particularly remote part of the coastline in something of a geographic cul-de-sac, accessed via a dead-end road that comes down through the mountains. The E4 hiking path passes through the village. If you followed the E4 west out of Sougia, in 11 kilometers you would reach Gialiskari Beach (described in the previous paragraph), the next location accessible by car. If you followed the E4 east out of Sougia, you would have to hike about 40 kilometers before connecting to the next automobile road, at a point a bit west of the village of Chora Sfakion. About halfway along that stretch, Agia Roumeli is an extremely remote village that is not accessible by road. The village lies at the end of the Samaria Gorge, a stunning natural feature that is one of Crete's top tourist attractions. Getting to Agia Roumeli involves taking a ferry or taking a long hike, either along the coastline or through the gorge. Farther east, much closer to where the E4 connects with the automobile road, Loutro is a smaller coastal village that is also inaccessible by road. Between Loutro and Chora Sfakion, Sweetwater Beach 35.2020N, 24.1083E   has one of the most stunning backdrops of any beach in Crete, nestled against the slope of a huge and nearly barren mountain that plunges precipitously toward the sea from a height of over 500 meters. Nudity is well established on one side of the beach. To get to Sweetwater, you can park where the E4 meets the automobile road near Chora Sfakion then hike westward along the E4 about a kilometer, or you can take a ferry to the beach from Chora Sfakion, which is also a departing point for ferries to Loutro and Agia Roumeli. On the east side of Chora Sfakion, Filaki Beach 35.1941N, 24.1574E   is a small pebble beach managed by Vritomartis Hotel, the only naturist resort in Crete (listed separately below). Although attended mostly by resort guests, Filaki is open to the public. The beach lies at the dead end of a short road that goes past the resort, which is a bit inland. Once you pass Vritomartis, you may encounter nude pedestrians along the road, strolling between the resort and the beach. Filaki is the only beach in Crete where everyone is naked (a policy of the resort), and it is also the only beach in Crete where you can patronize the beach bar in the nude.

      Chora Sfakion is at the eastern end of a very mountainous stretch of coastline. East of Chora Sfakion, the mountains are slightly inland from the coast, and a dispersed settlement called Frangokastello lies in an agricultural plain between the mountains and the sea. On the east end of Frangokastello, Orthi Ammos Beach 35.1832N, 24.2494E   is an unusual beach comprised of very tall sand dunes that are wedged against a cliff. The dunes slope steeply toward the sea, with just a narrow ribbon of sand at sea level, particularly at high tide. Nude bathing occurs along one end of this unique and beautiful beach.

      Although Crete itself is an island, it has a number of associated satellite islands. The largest of those is Gavdos, located about 35 kilometers south of the southern coast of Chania. Gavdos spans about 10 kilometers from one extreme to the other, and it has a very small number of permanent residents. The island is off the mainstream tourist radar and is almost completely devoid of tourist amenities, drawing a youthful and bohemian cohort. Most come here for primitive camping, and ferry schedules do not allow for day tripping. Nude bathing is an intrinsic part of the counterculture that has flourished here since the 1960's. Gavdos has a few easily accessible beaches and several more that require substantial hikes. Almost all Gavdos Beaches  are frequented by nudists, including Sarakiniko Beach 34.8594N, 24.1098E , Agios Ioannis Beach 34.8678N, 24.0846E , Lavrakas Beach 34.8705N, 24.0715E , Pyrgos Beach 34.8667N, 24.0662E , Potamos Beach 34.8583N, 24.0609E  and Tripiti Beach 34.8042N, 24.1236E . Ferries to Gavdos depart from Chora Sfakion and Paleochora, and some logistical planning is necessary due to limited ferry service and the very limited availability of goods, service and accommodations on the island.


     Vritomartis Hotel    35.1971N, 24.1489E     E, D, F, G, Gk, I      beach 
          Chora Sfakion

South Coast—Rethymno     [ ↑ ]


      Of the four regional units of Crete, Rethymno has least southern coastline, occupying an expanse of about 45 kilometers measured very roughly. Toward the western end of that expanse, Plakias has a trio of attributes that make it very popular with tourists: a long, sandy beach; a calm, shallow bay; and a spectacular backdrop of rugged mountains. There are three beaches in and around Plakias  that are popular with nude bathers, all located within a span of 6 kilometers. First, there is Plakias Beach 35.1810N, 24.4007E  itself, which is lined with multiple clusters of sunchairs and umbrellas. On the opposite end of the beach from the main bustle of the village, nudists occupy the southeasternmost cluster of sunchairs, which is dramatically situated next to the sheer rock wall of the headland at the end of the beach. A bit west of Plakias, Souda Beach 35.1924N, 24.3671E  is a much smaller and quieter beach that in ways is a shrunken facsimile of Plakias Beach, and nudists occupy the sunchairs at one end of the beach. A bit east of Plakias, Micro Amoudi 35.1724N, 24.4187E  arguably has the most cachet of any nude beach in Crete despite its diminutive size. Just 50 meters across and covered in sunchairs, Micro Amoudi is a sandy niche that is short on size but big on scenic beauty and atmosphere, and there is usually a substantial nudist majority even during peak season when the beach is packed. This is the place in Crete where you are likely to find the largest concentration of nude bodies on the smallest patch of earth. With its trio of popular nude beaches, the Plakias area is an ideal base for naturist travelers. Plakias is also the village where the E4 hiking trail (described in the previous section) shifts course. West of Plakias, the trail hews toward the coastline, while east of Plakias the trail follows an inland route.

      East of Plakias, Preveli is a highly touristed locality that is not a village but rather a loose conglomeration of landmarks, including a large monastery and the mouth of the Kourtaliotiko River, which flows through a spectacular palm-lined gorge as it nears the sea. Going east from Preveli, Agia Galini is the next coastal locality that is a bona fide village and not just a tiny settlement, and it is located near the eastern border of Rethymno. The driving distance between the Preveli area and Agia Galini is about 35 kilometers, along roads that are a bit inland from the coast. About halfway between Preveli and Agia Galina, Agios Pavlos is a tiny seaside settlement located at a bend of the coastline, and it has two beaches. Nestled in a small bay, the south-facing main beach is generally just called Agios Pavlos Beach, and it is textile. At a right angle to the main beach, the west-facing beach is backed by a long, tall and steep slope of sand. For that reason, the beach is usually called something like Agios Pavlos Sandhills Beach 35.1027N, 24.5606E   or Agios Pavlos Dunes to distinguish it from the main beach. The sandhills beach is broken into two distinct areas by an outcropping. The more accessible area south of the outcropping gets irregular nudist attendance, mainly during the off season. Nudity is much better established on the more lightly attended part of the beach north of the outcropping. Offering a spectacular backdrop, the sandhills beach is among the more geographically distinctive nude beaches of Crete, and it is the best-established nudist location along the Preveli-to-Agia Galini stretch of coastline. However, there are other beaches along this stretch that have lighter and less consistent patterns of nude use, particularly between Preveli and Agios Pavlos. Assume you start in Agios Pavlos and head west (such that the sea is on your left-hand side), sticking to the minor, narrow roads the hew closest to the coastline. Via those roads (which have some unpaved stretches), it is about 20 kilometers to the Preveli area, and en route you will pass a number of beaches (most notably Triopetra and Ligres) that have nudist potential along the areas that are more secluded from the coastal road.

South Coast—Heraklion     [ ↑ ]


      If you look at a map of Crete, you will see a couple of very prominent bends about halfway along the southern coast. Between those two bends, there is a segment of the coast that faces west rather than south, covering an as-the-crow-flies distance of less than 20 kilometers. The village of Matala is about halfway along the short west-facing part of the southern coast. Matala is known for the caves that pocket the sandstone headland on the north end of the village beach, and it is even better known for the counterculture that overran the village during the 60's and 70's, when hippies often squatted in the caves. Modern Matala has been transformed into a more mainstream tourist village, but a holdover of the hippie heyday is the culture of nudity at Red Beach 34.9856N, 24.7495E  , an isolated beach just south of Matala accessed by a moderately challenging hike over a headland. Named for the color of its sand, Red Beach is backed by multi-colored cliffs. Perhaps the most famous nude beach in Crete, Red Beach is also one of the most beautiful, and about half the beach is the purview of nudists. A few kilometers north of Matala, Komos Beach 35.0159N, 24.7603E   is an easy-access alternative to Red Beach. You can park very close to the expansive and popular nudist zone of the long, sandy beach. Although less visually dramatic than Red Beach, Komos is nonetheless quite beautiful, and its westward orientation affords exceptional view of the rugged mountains that extends westward into Rethymno and Chania.

      Matala is roughly the midpoint of the south coast of Crete. Going west from Matala, there are lots of established nude beaches along the south coast, including nearly all the beaches listed above going all the way to back to Elafonisi Beach (the first beach listed above under South Coast—Chania). Going east from Matala, there are plenty of opportunities for nude bathing, but there are very few beaches where nudity is well established. Rounding the bend of the coastline that is south of Matala, the south-facing coastline of Heraklion stretches eastward about 80 kilometers. Toward the western end of the south-facing coastline of Heraklion, the nearby villages of Lentas and Dytiko are separated by a headland, and nude bathers gather on the extreme end of Dytiko Beach 34.9283N, 24.9165E   that abuts the headland. Much farther east, tiny Tertsa is the easternmost coastal village of Heraklion. It lies just a bit west of Myrtos, a larger and better-known village in nearby Lasithi. Tertsa Beach 34.9913N, 25.5290E   is lightly attended apart from the segment of the beach that abuts the village, and a scattering of nude bathers are usually present along the expansive western periphery of the beach.

East Coast—Lasithi     [ ↑ ]


      Lasithi is the easternmost region of Crete, and its coastline can broadly be divided into southern, eastern and northern segments. Ierapetra, the largest town of Lasithi and the fourth largest in Crete, is located in an agricultural plain on the south coast of the region. While Lasithi has no shortage of natural beauty, it is not as touristed as are other parts of the island, and of the four regions of Crete, Lasithi is the only one that lacks any nude beaches of particular renown. There are a scattering of locations potentially interesting to nudists, all on the east side of Lasithi, but they all fall a bit short of being really well-established nudist sites where nudity occurs throughout the tourist season. The Lasithi beaches named below are all best appreciated before July or after August.

      Xerokampos is a locality that occupies a small coastal plain nestled against the rugged mountains at the extreme southeast of Crete. Not a typical village with clustered buildings and a significant number of permanent residents, it is more of a tourist settlement with scattered small-scale accommodations and tavernas and not much else. (There is no gas station, for example.) Quite remote, Xerokampos tends to attract a cadre of visitors who appreciate quiet and isolation. There are three Xerokampos Beaches  that draw nude bathers, located within a span of 5 kilometers. Those beaches are Ligias Lakos Beach 35.0313N, 26.2111E , Gerontolakos Beach 35.0381N, 26.2308E  and Alona Beach 35.0583N, 26.2427E .

      Toward the far north end of the east side of Lasithi, Vai Beach is about 9 kilometers by car from Palekastro, the closest major village. Backed by the largest natural palm grove in Europe, Vai Beach was frequented by nudists during the 70's when it was a countercultural haven, but the beach is now strictly textile, as has been the case for several decades since the beach has been gentrified and promoted as a tourist attraction. However, there are a few beaches near Vai  that get a certain degree of nudist visitation. Starting from Vai, a short hike over a headland brings you to Psili Ammos Beach 35.2514N, 26.2673E , a small beach backed by a huge dune that resembles a glacier of sand creeping toward the sea. Nudity occurs rather sporadically at Psili Ammos, mostly during the off season. A few kilometers north of Vai, odds for nudists are a bit better at Itanos Beach 35.2670N, 26.2636E & 35.2620N, 26.2639E , which actually consists of three distinct beaches, all accessed from the same parking area. A few nudists often gather at the north end of the northern Itanos beach, and nudity is also common at the more secluded and less crowded southern Itanos beach.

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