Useful tips for Crete beaches
The sea in Crete is warm in summer and swimming is always pleasant. The water temperature is 20 C in May, rising to 26-27 C in July and gradually falling back to 20 C in November. Even in winter the water temperature does not fall below 17 degrees, so you can swim in the sea in Crete all year round.
The beaches along the north coast of Crete are usually shallower and the water is slightly warmer. There are also lifeguards on most north coast beaches.
The beaches along the south coast are less crowded. You will notice campers on some of them but officially camping is not allowed outside approved campsites. The police may ask you to leave.
Hiring two sunbeds and an umbrella costs approximately €5-6. Using them is optional. On every beach there is usually a little free space for visitors who do not wish to use the existing facilities
Strong winds blow all year round. Depending on the time of year, there are often strong south winds (in winter) or northerlies (all year round). In summer there are also the meltemia or etesian winds, seasonal northwesterlies common across the southern Aegean, which start up around 10 in the morning and die down at dusk.
The wind has a different effect on Crete beaches depending on whether these are on the north or the south coast:
- Along the north coast: north winds create high waves. This may prove dangerous for inexperienced swimmers. Be careful and follow the lifeguards’ instructions.
- Along the south coast: north winds here blow from the land to the sea. The sea remains calm but the sand hitting your body makes you feel like someone is trying to sandblast the skin off your body. This happens on a few days each year when the north winds are particularly strong, mainly in July and August.
The beaches unaffected by the wind are: Marathi, Kalyves, Almyrida, Plaka, Bali, Agia Pelagia, the Limanakia in Hersonissos, Loutro, Kali Limenes, Arvi, Myrtos and Makrygialos.
Pets on Crete beaches
Dogs have the right to come on Crete beaches, unless there is a Municipal or Prefectural sign indicating otherwise. According to Law 3170 of 2003, you can walk your dog in outdoor areas (i.e. including beaches) as long as it is on a lead and you clean up after it. You should also carry its health book with you to prove it has been vaccinated if requested to do so.
Dogs may not swim on busy beaches on pain of a € 50-150 fine. However this does not apply to remote beaches, even if there are people swimming there.
Are beaches in Crete safe?
No shark attacks have ever been reported in Crete. There are sharks in the Mediterranean but they do not approach the shore.
You are safe from jellyfish stings on most Cretan beaches, as the currents keep them away from the shore. Jellyfish stings are painful but harmless to humans.
There are no dangerous fish or sea creatures in Crete. Scorpion fish (which live on rocky bottoms) and weaver fish (sandy bottoms) have a painful sting, but are harmless to humans unless you are allergic.
Sea urchins are a threat to your feet on rocky shores. Enter the sea carefully.
Other tips for beaches in Crete
You will not see dolphins on any Cretan beach. Unfortunately they prefer deeper water and rarely approach the shore.
Naturism in Crete is not officially allowed but it is tolerated on secluded beaches. Use your judgement whether you may practise naturism or not on a specific beach. If there are other naturists there, then it is unlikely to be a problem. However the situation changes all the time. A beach may be clothing optional during the week but at weekends it may be occupied by locals. Respect their customs and avoid provoking them by practising naturism next to them. It may give cause for serious reactions.
Never forget your sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and plenty of water, especially if you plan to visit some secluded beach along the southern coast
People on medication should check with their doctor for potential sunbathing risks.
Alcohol and swimming are not compatible.
Leave nothing on the beach except footprints.