West Crete – Best bits

Where to go in West Crete in September

The Mediterranean is really at its best in September, the temperature is generally more comfortable and it’s not as crowded as July and August. Crete in particular has pretty much perfect weather and it’s less likely to rain than in the Ionian islands like Corfu, or further north in Italy or Croatia. I travelled during the second week of September 2015 and enjoyed several days at 37c+ then a more reasonable 28c for the rest of the week. As a solo female traveller I chose a laid back resort and hired a car. I flew into Chania as most of the beaches I wanted to see are in the west of crete.

Georgioupolis used to be a fishing village like many resorts in Greece. It’s now a small resort with about 20 tavernas, a handful of large hotels and some smaller holiday apartments. I stayed in Georgioupolis Beach Hotel which is across the road from the main beach with a view of the lovely Agios Nikolaos Church which you can reach by walking across a rocky pier out in the sea (or swim like I did!). You can find my review of the hotel on Trip Advisor.

IMG_20150906_113634-001

Agios Nikolaos Church

IMG_20150908_102201

Swimming out to the church

There’s a long stretch of sand that makes up the main beach at Georgioupolis which leads east towards Kourna. However, my favourite beach is the one used by locals “Kavilaki”, it’s the other side of Agios Nikolaos church between two of the rivers that reach the sea here. The rivers mean that the surface of the water is cold (fresh water) and the lower part warm (salt water) which makes it very refreshing!! Tip, if you’re cold, sweep up the warm water in your hands up to the top!

20150911_143652

The river running into the sea

You can clearly see the different types of water in this photo, but it does mean that snorkelling is pretty much out of the question due to the “oily” look affecting visibility.

DCIM100GOPRO

Strange but true!

IMG_20150910_171036

Kavilaki Beach

This beach has a few lovely tavernas, a swimming pool for guests and visitors and some interesting model buildings made by the owner of the Kavilaki Taverna. Check out Athens!

20150911_13304120150911_133027

Whilst I really enjoyed my stay in Georgioupolis, I wish i’d split my time with other areas such as Loutro. I didn’t find that the tavernas as good (in general) as other places I’ve stayed in Greece, I may have been spoilt by the excellent selection in the Mani (Peloponnese) back in July!

Loutro – A not so hidden gem!

I’d read about Loutro in the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, it looked so beautiful in the pictures I has to see for myself. In hindsight I wish I had stayed here for a couple of days, here’s why. Loutro is in the south of the island, to get there from the north you take a good mountain road from Chania to Chora Sfakion which takes about an hour through some lovely scenery, a little more if you are stopped by sheep in the road like me. From Chora Sfakion you take the ferry heading to Agia Roumeli, which the end of the Samaria Gorge.  If the ferry times don’t fit your schedule, there are some smaller taxi boats which cost a little more than the €10 return fare, they also stop at “Sweetwater” beach which is a popular spot for naturalists.

DCIM100GOPRO

Leaving Hora Skafion

Coming into Loutro you can’t fail to be impressed by the little white “box like” buildings wrapping the bay and backed by mountains. There are no cars in Loutro, the only way of getting here is to hike or arrive by boat, which just adds to it’s charm. It isn’t however a quiet place, people arrive for the day and gradually fill up the beaches and tavernas. It’s still pretty laid back though, if I go again I’ll hire a small boat and explore the surrounding coves… I’d also stay here for a few nights as it’s so pretty!

Arriving at Loutro

Kourna Lake

This lake is really close to Georgioupolis. You can take the road train, hike or drive. It’s the only fresh water lake in Crete, and you can hire kayaks or pedalos. I think the staff were quite surprised that I was going to pedal a pedalo on my own….and yes it was hard work! The water is really clear, it’s a swimming lake but is also full of ducks, other birds and has some fresh water turtles. I was lucky enough to see a small turtle… see if you can spot it in the picture?!

IMG_20150908_182208DCIM100GOPRO

Elafonissi Beach – or not!

This beach is very well known for it’s pink sand and it’s Caribbean look. I left early in the morning from Georgoiupolis and had an interesting (read terrifying) 2 hour drive through the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) to get there. At one point the GPS told me to turn left and I disappeared off the main road through a tiny village on a very narrow track, eventually I drove back up towards the main road; this part reminded me of a place in Sussex that scares my Sister…she calls it the “Up and Over” it’s a steep bit of road that makes you think you’re going to drop off the top. Well the track was like this but also only a car width and had a sheer drop on one side, it was a case of keep going and hope that no-one came over the top towards me!

I eventually arrived at Elafonisi at 9am, early enough for a wander across the dunes with only a handful of people about. The pink sand is amazing!

IMG_20150909_085918

Elafonisi

However, this beach is totally spoilt by hundreds of sun-beds on the main stretch and I had the feeling it was going to get extremely busy over the next few hours. I stopped for coffee at one of the Kantinas (blasting out 90’s dance music…not my thing) and left to find a quieter spot!

I found a road to another beach by checking Google Maps on my phone, unfortunately the route wasn’t very clear and didn’t show how rough the road was…it was also quite a trek to the beach, especially when you’re wearing flip-flops so I suggest study footwear if you’re going to attempt it. But, it was wonderfully peaceful, with the sound of honeybees and the smell of thyme!  The road back out was even worse and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, luckily I didn’t panic and kept going.

20150909_123621_001

DCIM100GOPRO Not an easy beach to get to!

The beach I arrived at is called Kedrodases, there were a few people dotted about, including some campers, nudists, hikers and a family who’d arrived by boat. But, generally it was very quiet. Shaded by Poplar trees, the sea was extremely clear with some rocky areas and was perfect for snorkelling. Just remember to take plenty of water and snacks if you plan on visiting this beach.

DCIM100GOPRO

Kedrodases

One of my 15 tasks for 2015 (essentially a New Year resolution) was to swim naked…..and I did it here at Kedrodases!!! Yippee, here’s the proof. A successful trip to Crete over!

DCIM100GOPRO

Naked swim proof!