I was unaware of how massive the island of Crete actually was until I actually arrived into the port with my sister and family. We took the overnight ferry from Piraeus Port, Athens to Souda, Crete, which lasted roughy 10 hrs. I tend to get a little restless on long trips so luckily we booked ourselves a cabin for the night and I passed out for the entire ride over. When we finally arrived we had a bit of searching to do. We booked a hotel before we began our travels but upon arriving we realized that the hotel was slightly farther way from all the things we wanted to do. So with fingers crossed, we hit the road and drove around looking for a new place to stay. Hint for you fellow travelers: Spend more time than we did researching a place to stay, making sure it is within distance of your activities and booking your room ahead of time, as the hotels in the main cities fill up fast in the summer months.
Fortunately, and with the help of a local hotel owner who called other local hotel owners for us, we were able to find a hotel able to accommodate us. Let me tell you, this place was worth wasting a chunk of our day to find. The owners of the Koulouris Studios and Apartments in Kalyves, were nothing but warm and welcoming and went above and beyond to make us feel at home and part of the family for the duration of our stay. Once we finally settled in we started to plan out the rest of our day and time there.
Crete is filled with an abundance of archaeological sites and is full of history, so with the weather being on the cooler side we decided that this would be an opportune moment to visit some of these sites. Typically the weather in Crete is hot and dry, so we took advantage of the cool day and went to the Ancient City of Aptera. It is located atop of a mountain which made for some spectacular views of the surrounding towns and villages, which included a view of where we were staying.
We agreed that on the days that the weather was warm and beautiful, we would visit some well renowned beaches. The first beaches we went to were Balos/Gramvousa island. The easiest way to get to these two beaches is by boat which left from Kissamos port. In the open water the waves were a bit choppy, but once we turned left and pulled into the cove, my breath was taken away. The water there was like nothing I had ever seen before. Crystal clear, you could see straight to the bottom. Take my word for it. It is a missed opportunity to not bring goggles with you when you visit this beach. I learned my lesson the hard way and picked up a pair before heading to the next beach on our list. We drove to Elafonissi the next day. The drive to this beach is not for the faint of heart, with narrow winding roads on the edge of the mountain and a one lane tunnel through the mountain, but if you remain steadfast and get there, the water is again amazing. The shoreline is pink from crushed shells and the water is a refreshing break from the summer heat. If you swim out a few meters, you can find reefs with marine life, for those who are interested in that. There was also a spot where you could wind surf.
We ended our trip by visiting Chania and doing a little bit of shopping in this stellar city. As we walked around we found many adorable local stores with big personalities. One place that stood out for me in particular was Melomania Honey, a unique shop that sells natural honey and all natural honey bi-products. Upon your visit you can sample some of the seasons honey and more of their amazing products. We also had a chance to grab lunch in the Old Venetian Harbor and then take a stroll around the harbor which is also a historic site.
I wish we had more time to explore this beautiful island seeing as we only got to visit one side of it. To quote Arnold Schwartzenegger, “I’ll be back!”