Kommos in south Crete is now famous for its wonderful, long, sandy beach, but we mustn’t forget that it was once an ancient town with its own harbour.
The Minoan town of Kommos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Heraklion Prefecture, about 64 kilometres south of Heraklion itself. However, what is visible today will mean very little to visitors unfamiliar with its significance in ancient times.
Kommos has an impressive and beautiful beach, one of the largest in Crete, stretching all the way from Kalamaki to just before Matala.
There are no hotels or apartments for rent in Kommos but Kalamaki is just a short distance away, as are Matala, Kamilari, Sivas and Pitsidia.
There are plenty of hotels and rooms in all these places, while from Kalamaki you can walk to Kommos beach.
Kommos or Komos
On the archaeological site sign it’s spelled Komos, but many archaeological texts refer to it as Kommos with two “m”s. The second version is therefore probably the correct one, as signs are often misspelt.
Kommos on the map
1. = Kommos archaeological site and beach with umbrellas
2. = “Potamos”, the naturists beach
How to get to Kommos
Kommos is a kilometre and a half from Pitsidia to the west, very close to Matala and Phaistos. Kommos can be reached from the village of Pitsidia, either by car (which is preferable) or on foot.
From Heraklion to Kommos beach. Kommos beach is about 65-70 kilometres from Heraklion. Take the road to the Messara, in the direction of Tymbaki and Moires. Pass Moires and continue to Pitsidia and Matala. After passing through Pitsidia, follow the sign to the Kommos archaeological site, along a road through the lovely olive groves.
At the end of the road there is a place to leave your car, right next to the Kommos archaeological site and in front of the beach.
To get to Kommos from Chania and Rethymnon, drive towards Agia Galini. Continue to Tymbaki, pass it and turn off towards Kamilari, continuing until you find the road to Matala. From Pitsidia turn towards Kommos.
Kommos is about 1.5 hours’ drive from Rethymno and 2.5 hours from Chania.
Kommos beach is not your typical beach with lots of people, cafeterias and restaurants.
Development is very limited because the Ephorate of Archaeology does not allow building in protected archaeological zones such as Kommos.
Kommos beach is so long that no matter how many people come here to enjoy a swim in the clear waters of southern Crete, there is always plenty of space for everybody without the slightest sense of crowding.
Kommos is vaguely organised, with a few umbrellas at the south end of the beach and a taverna right behind them.
The sea is crystal-clear, although the beach is rather exposed to the strong meltemia (northwesterlies), making the sea very rough and dangerous. Be careful on windy days not to slip on the large slabs going into the sea.
To the right (north) of the archaeological site, the paths through the dunes lead to the beach, among the sand lilies and tamarisks, which run down to the sea in some places.
Beautiful view and splendid sunset at Kommos
People don’t come to Kommos just to swim, but also for the beautiful view and spectacular sunset.
The beach extends along the Bay of Messara and you can see the vast blue Libyan Sea spread out before you.
The Paximadia islets trick observers by seeming to change shape depending on your position and viewpoint.
Late in the afternoon, the sun sets behind the islets, offering you one of the loveliest sunsets in Crete.
From Kommos there is also a view of the imposing Mount Psiloritis to the north and Mount Kedros further west, in Rethymnon Prefecture.
The rock of the Cyclops
Eighty metres offshore is a great rock called Volakas.
Legend has it that this is the rock which the Cyclops Polyphemus threw at Odysseus to stop him escaping.
Caretta caretta loggerhead turtles at Kommos
Kommos is also of great ecological interest.
Kommos is one of the Cretan beaches where the loggerhead turtle comes ashore to lay its eggs.
You will notice that several parts of the beach are fenced off with wire. These are loggerhead turtle nests in which the eggs are incubated by the hot summer sun.
If you would like to known more about Caretta Caretta loggerhead turtles, visit the Archelon Sea Turtle Protection Society kiosk in nearby Matala.
Kommos, beach for naturists
The northern part of Kommos beach is almost exclusively used by naturists. If you find the sight shocking, simply stay on the south side, near the archaeological site. The beach is so long that there is plenty of room for everybody.
The naturists' beach is called Potamos (river) and here the tamarisks run down almost to the sea. It is very close to neighbouring Kalamaki and you can easily walk there for a meal.