Plakias Bay – Crete’s best kept secret

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In the south of Crete, just over 30 minutes from Rethymno by car, sits one of the island’s best-kept secrets. 

Plakias, Preveli, and Asomatos are spots along the southern coast that feature some of the best natural beauty that Greece has to offer. 

In an area often referred to as Plakias Bay, the beaches here provide splendid swimming waters that even many Greeks are not aware of, while the traditional villages in the surrounding hills offer a combination of picturesque sceneries along with tavernas that serve the best food you will taste on the island. 

The former fishing village of Plakias is the biggest town along the stretch. Surrounded by mountains to the north, it faces the sea to the south. Its blue-flagged sandy beach is one of the longest in Crete with a variety of facilities on offer such as ramp access to the water for people in wheelchairs. 

There are numerous tavernas and bars on offer, helping complete the summer experience. 

A few kilometers further down is the tropical oasis of Preveli (pictured above), one of only two natural palm tree forests in Europe. Here the Grand River, running from the Kourtaliotikos (or Asomatos) Gorge, meets the sea. 

In the summer, swimmers often walk up along the river, under the shade of the palm trees, ascending toward the beautiful canyon. The little ponds that are formed along the way are great for wading in cool waters. 

There is also a ferry service here that can take you to Plakias. 

Just up the nearby mountain at an altitude of 230 meters is the traditional village of Asomatos, where you can have the best of everything. In a relaxed environment, sea views are very impressive from this village. 

Records of Asomatos date back some 450 years when Crete was under Venetian rule and exposed to the Renaissance influence between 1204 to 1669.

Contact with nature here is unique. Hiking and biking are on offer while the Plakias beach is located just 4 kilometers away. 

To the north is the Asomatos gorge, which stretches up to 3 kilometers with lush vegetation.  

Along its length, huge cliffs of limestone, reaching 500 meters in height, are full of caves, home to many species of birds, such as raptors, making the gorge an important biotope. 

Further east, next to the popular beach of Damnoni, the less well-known beach of Ammoudaki can be found. There is also Klisidi beach that is hidden away and can only be accessed after climbing down some rocks. They are beautiful beaches and popular with naturalists. 

Nearby, at an altitude of 200 meters, is Mariou, a village offering an authentically Greek and traditional lifestyle.

A series of secrets in southern Crete that are open to discovery. 

 

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