Secret Beaches in Rethymno
Crete has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, many of them famous and listed among the top must-see destinations – for example, Elafonissi Beach, some 75 km southwest of Chania town. But if you plan your Cretan vacation in the Rethymno regional unit, you will find beguiling stretches of sand and secrete beaches of rare unspoiled beauty.
You will find Skinaria Beach (Plakia Skinaria) 33 km south of Rethymno, about three kilometres away from the village Lefkogia. Even in the high tourist season, the beach offers plenty of space to sunbathe and play because it is relatively unknown to locals and tourists.
On the way from Lefkogia, on the left side of the narrow country road leading to the beach, you will observe a cylindric hole in the rock, known locally as the Tripiti hole or Tripiti cave.
Because not many people are familiar with this sunny destination, the beach is scenic and clean. There is a taverna offering food and refreshment, sunbeds and umbrella rentals, and restrooms, but that’s about all you will find in terms of facilities at the beach. Still, it is worth coming here for the lush vegetation around small ponds fed by springs from Kourupa Mountain. Then, go snorkelling in the sea to observe the rich fauna: the seabed at Skinaria offers excellent habitat for octopuses, morays, blackfish, and other animals. Skinaria is also a choice destination for scuba diving.
Melissa Cape Sandhills
The Melissa Cape Sandhills, or Alatsogremi (salt cliffs) as the locals call them, are 55 kilometres drive south of Rethymno city, not far from the famous and popular Triopetra Beach. The beach at the bottom of the sandhills has no facilities and is usually uncrowded. Peace and seclusion make it an ideal place for yoga and meditation.
From the beach, take the dirt track starting at the crossroad leading to Agios Pavlos, Sactouria, and Triopetra to reach the Thronos peak for the White Mountains’ jaw-dropping views Gavdos Island and Paximadia islets. Sunsets from this peak are exceptionally mesmerizing.
Snorkelling is one of the favourite pastimes here because the seabed is very rich. However, mind the west winds, which can cause large waves, dangerous for the more inexperienced swimmers.
Ligres Beach is part of the Akoumiani Gialia beachfront at the foothill of Mount Siderotas. You will reach it about 50 kilometres south of Rethymno city, close to Kerames village.
Access to the beach is difficult, so few tourists adventure here. Thus, the beach maintains its landscape untainted. The most impressive attraction at Ligres is the waterfall falling next to the sea at the west end of the beach.
A more secluded part of Ligres Beach, known as Katsouni – reached walking westward from the waterfall – is favoured by nudists.
There are no facilities on Ligres Beach, and you will not find sunbeds or umbrella rentals, so come prepared.
If you enjoy hiking, you can walk to Triopetra Beach from Ligres and admire the beautiful wild landscapes dotting the coastline in this part of Crete.
Spilies Beach, called Tou Maliou to Riaki (Maliou Spring) by the locals, is only 15 kilometres east of Rethymno city, on the Greek National Road 90 connecting Rethymno to Heraklion.
Although it offers easy access from the road, the beach is not well-known and remains uncrowded even during the high tourist season. You will find a small canteen on the beach, offering sunbeds and umbrella rentals.
Swimming here may be problematic when the sea is restless because of the north winds, which cause high waves. However, when the sea is calm, you can explore the nearby caves, but do it carefully because they offer suitable habitats for the endangered and protected Mediterranean monk seals.
If you like long walks on the beach, head east until you reach the picturesque natural rocky arch of Geropotamos.
Gialopotama Beach is 45 km south of Rethymno, close to Kerames village. It is a small sandy beach next to a small hill with villa rentals. However, the beach itself is unorganized, so come prepared with beach essentials and wear water shoes on the beach when you swim because the pebbles and rocks might hurt your feet.
The crystal-clear water allows you to see the seabed. You can go swimming, snorkelling, and even spearfishing.
Finally, note that naturists favour the east side of the beach.
These are just five of the so-called secret beaches of Rethymno, all ideal for travellers seeking seclusion and intimacy. Please remember that most of them will not have facilities or amenities usually found on organized beaches. You must have an appreciation for nature and wilderness to enjoy these beaches.