The best Greek island for beaches is Crete. It boasts with breathtakingly beautiful beaches that are well known all over the world (such as Elafonisi, Balos and Matala), numerous city and resort beaches (especially on the north coast), wild undiscovered beaches (many on the south and east coasts), and everything inbetween.
Below I will introduce 60 beaches from various regions of Crete:
The below map shows the locations of the mentioned beaches. It also includes the locations of 20 other beaches which I have not yet visited but which have been recommended to me by the locals. It does not include most resort beaches in or near the four major cities on the north coast of the island (i.e., resorts west of Chania, east of Rethymno, east of Heraklion, and in and near Agios Nikolaos).
I have also added my ratings of the beaches to the descriptions. I rated the beaches on the basis of the following criteria: beauty, cleanliness, crowds, and charm.
I took the photos in October 2020 and between February and July 2021.
Part One: Chania & Akrotiri
1. Chrissi Akti Beach
4 km west of Chania
A long sand beach; one of the best within the reach of an easy walk from Chania centre; one half organised and popular among families and older generations of locals; more singles and couples on the other half
2. Agioi Apostoloi Beach
5 km west of Chania
A long beach with tourist accommodations to the west and two sheltered beaches to the east, the last one being the best beach in the Chania urban area; a deep inlet of the sea surrounded by rocky promontories; beautiful walks and some gay cruising; the crowds of tourists and locals of all generations don’t bother much
3. Kalathas Beach
10 km northeast of Chania
The first major beach after Chania on the Akrotiri peninsula; mostly locals and tourists from nearby villas, no daytrippers; the main beach within the curve of the road to the south and a more quiet beach to the north
4. Machairida Beach
13 km northeast of Chania
The main gay and naturist beach in the Chania area; rocky terrain and little sand, but crystal clear water; hardly any space where to put your blanket; some regulars who have ‘reserved’ their place
5. Stavros Beach
15 km northeast of Chania
A sheltered bay with a sand beach under the camel-shaped Mount Vardies; one of the filming locations of Zorba the Greek; very popular among locals and tourists; deposites of salt on a rocky terrain to the north; a more laid-back beach to the west, with less people, more space, yellow sand and occasional high waves
6. Seitan Limania Beach
20 km northeast of Chania
An S-shaped cove flanked by dramatic white limestone cliffs, from which teenage boys jump into water; a steep walk down and up; one of the natural wonders in the area
7. Loutraki Beach
16 km east of Chania
A busy sand beach and a beach bar with umbrellas and sunbeds on a grassy terrace overlooking the bay; attractive people
8. Marathi Beach
17 km east of Chania
A low-key beach busy with locals; the view of the mountains across the Souda Bay slightly reminiscent of the landscape of the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro; a Roman cistern and wharf that no-one notices