Discover the 9 best beaches you must visit in west Crete near Chania. Find out how to get there with our free map and what to bring to get the most out of your vacation on Crete island in Greece.
There’s no doubt that the first question anyone asks when planning a vacation to Crete is, ‘Where do you find the best beaches?’. As fellow beach lovers and wanna-be mermaid (and merman), we asked ourselves the same question.
Little did we know at the time, that Crete is one massive island with over 1,000km of coastline to explore. So to say that there are literally hundreds of magical beaches to discover on the biggest island of Greece is probably an understatement.
Whilst it may not be humanly possible to discover 100+ beaches on the beautiful island of Crete. We’ve made it our mission to visit as many of them as possible during our 2-week Crete vacation so we could share the best ones!
We managed to visit 20+ beaches in total (with the help of friends!) during our time in Crete. To avoid writing a book of a travel guide, we’ve decided to split our Crete Beaches Travel Guide into 4 parts.
This is part 1 which lists the best beaches to visit if you’re staying on the west side of Crete island. We’ve listed them from closest to furthest from Chania (maximum driving time of 2 hours), so you can decide how far you want to take your adventure.
Not sure which are the best towns to base yourself in Crete? Our Where To Stay in Crete shares insider tips on the best places to stay in Crete with kids, for a romantic couples getaway, to the best hotels for beautiful beaches and epic nightlife, with or without renting a car.
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Map of Best West Crete Beaches in Greece
Here’s a free map to find the best west Crete beaches mentioned in this guide. The closest beach is a short 25 to 30-minute drive from Chania and the furthest, 2 hours away.
Click on the map to see how far you are from the different beaches in Crete:
Bonus Tip: The best place to stay to visit these beaches in Crete without driving too far is anywhere west of Chania. We’d recommend staying in small towns and villages like Gerani, Platanias, Maleme or Kissamos if you don’t want to stay in the city of Chania itself.
Click on the map below to compare hotel and accommodation prices in Crete:
Related Guide: Visiting Crete for the first time? Skip the guesswork and follow our Two Weeks in Crete Itinerary. Explore jaw-dropping waterfalls, hike magnificent gorges and discover the best beaches in Crete over 14 days. If you’re planning to visit Crete for 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 days, then read our Crete Itinerary travel guide.
1. Seitan Limania Beach, North West Crete
Seitan Limania is not only one of the most famous beaches on west Crete. But also one of the most beautiful beaches near Chania.
Believe it or not – but Seitan Limania used to be a remote, sandy beach that only a lucky few knew about. But now it’s become one of the most popular beaches on Crete island thanks to Instagram.
What makes Seitan Limania such a unique beach is its zig-zag shape, sandwiched between two rocky cliffs. And the different hues of turquoise water rushing up to meet the white sandy shore is simply a sight that will take your breath away.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to see Seitan Limania beach for ourselves. But our dear friends, Mel and Connor, did. They were kind enough to share their photos and tips with us to include in this Crete Travel Guide.
How To Get To Seitan Limania Beach
The easiest way to get to Seitan Limania beach is from Chania. It’s around a 30 to 40-minute drive from the city center and you’ll pass Chania International Airport on your way there.
The drive up until this point is fairly easy and straightforward. It’s when you reach the roadside cantina, Seitan Delivery that the road becomes challenging.
Be prepared for the last 1.3km to be a serpentine road that snakes and curves around the edge of the cliff. The unpaved road is narrow and rocky so take your time and drive carefully.
Bonus Travel Tip
With the ongoing COVID-pandemic, airport chaos, and who knows what else, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Travel insurance will protect you against cancellations, illness, injury and even theft. Get a travel insurance quote for a stress-free vacation and enjoy the adventure without worries. Here are some recommendations:
The Hike to Seitan Limania Beach, Crete
Once you’ve reached the end of the road, park your car and prepare yourself for a 15 to 20-minute steep climb down to the beach.
You’ll need to get on all fours and scramble a bit. Make sure you’re wearing hiking shoes (or any closed shoes at least) because flip-flops won’t do.
And for those who want to enjoy Seitan Limania beach without the stress of driving or hiking, you can also get there by boat!
Book this full-day private boat cruise from Chania to Seitan Limania beach and explore the Akrotiri Peninsula while you’re at it.
Bonus Tip: You’ll often need to hike to reach the most beautiful beaches in Crete. We’d highly recommend wearing high-quality hiking shorts for the journey. We love the hiking shorts from KÜHL! Not only are they lightweight, quick drying and offer sun protection of UPF 50+, but also durable and super comfortable to wear. Check out KÜHL women’s hiking shorts and men’s hiking shorts before embarking on your adventure in Crete!
Tips For Visiting Seitan Limania Beach
It’s best to visit Seitan Limania beach as early as possible for a few reasons. The last stretch of the drive to Seitan Limania beach is rough. Plus, there’s a 15 to 20-minute steep hike (more like a climb) down a steep, rocky slope to get to the beach.
The beach is also really tiny so it gets crowded pretty quickly. You’ll want to arrive early so you can find a spot to sit on the sandy beach.
The beach also gets shaded late afternoon when the cliffs block the sun’s rays from reaching this little cove. Another reason why you should arrive earlier rather than later.
Water shoes are not a must – but super handy if you want to jump off the cliffs into the turquoise waters below. The water is deep enough at Seitan Limania, so you could really have a lot of fun with this.
And lastly, don’t feed the wild goats. As animal lovers ourselves, we know it’s hard to resist. But human food is not part of these creatures’ natural diet.
So if you really do want to feed them, grab some branches from a nearby tree instead. And make sure to keep your food and trash inside your bags where these hungry goats can’t get to them.
Save Me For Later
2. Platanias Beach, North West Crete
Platanias may not be the most beautiful beach you’ll see in Crete. But it’s definitely one of the most family-friendly options.
It’s a short and easy 25-minute drive to Platanias beach from Chania. There’s plenty of small cafes, restaurants, and shops nearby and it’s easy to find sunbeds and umbrellas to rent if needed.
It’s the perfect beach to visit for a relaxing and stress-free day. There are no unpaved roads to worry about. It’s easy to find parking and there’s no hiking involved.
Plus, your kids will absolutely love all the beautiful stones they’ll find along this pebble beach in west Crete.
Crete Hotels in Platanias, Crete
Stay around Platanias beach so you don’t have to worry about driving at all! It’s also a central area to stay in if you plan on getting through this entire western Crete itinerary. Here are some great hotel options around Platanias:
3. Paralia Menies, North West Crete
If you’re looking to discover the off the beaten track side of Crete, then you need to add Paralia Menies to your western Crete travel itinerary! Not only is it one of the most beautiful pebble beaches on the west side of Crete, but it’s also a hidden gem.
This is another beach from Mel and Connor’s adventures. It’s one of their favourites because of how secluded the beach is.
There’s a small price to pay for the seclusion though – it’s quite an adventure and challenge to get to Paralia Menies beach. It’s like the last 1.3km drive to Seitan Limania beach, but on steroids!
How To Get To Paralia Menies Beach
Paralia Menies beach may only be located 51km from Chania. But don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s a short drive. It’ll take around 2 hours to get there by car because of the road conditions.
The first 30km drive from Chania to Paralia Menies is pretty straightforward. Just follow the main highway in Crete till you take the E65/EO90 turnoff. It’s the final 21km drive from the main road to Paralia Menies beach that gets rough.
Hiring a 4×4 (4-wheel drive) is a nice-to-have, but not necessary. But having an experienced driver that is confident driving on an unpaved, rocky dirt road with plenty of holes and hairpin turns is a must though!
You’ll be driving downhill to the beach, so expect an uphill drive for the return trip. You’ll also likely need to dodge a few cows and mountain goats along the way. So take it slow and easy and you’ll eventually get to Paralia Menies beach.
And the reward will be oh-so-sweet when you finally arrive! Paralia Menies has some of the clearest water in west Crete because it’s such a tucked away pebble beach.
But the best part is that you’ll likely have this beach all to yourself! Or at worst, share it with a handful of other adventurous souls looking to explore Crete off the beaten track.
Related Guide: Driving in Crete is not easy. Especially if you want to avoid the crowds and explore Crete off the beaten track. Make sure to read our Driving in Crete guide for the essential road rules to know.
Tips For Visiting Paralia Menies Beach
Plan an entire day to visit Menies beach and start your day early (i.e. 9 AM latest). You don’t want to rush the drive there or drive in the dark on the unpaved road when returning to Chania.
Bring your water shoes so you can walk comfortably on the pebble beach. You may also want to bring an umbrella if you don’t want to sit in the sun all day. Like most beaches in Crete, there is little to no shade on Paralia Menies beach.
Also, make sure to bring enough food and water because there are no shops or cafes nearby. And lastly, bring your snorkeling gear because Paralia Menies beach offers one of the best snorkeling spots in west Crete.
Where To Stay in Maleme, Crete
Shorten your drive to Paralia Menies beach by staying in Maleme. It’s one of the closest villages to this off the beaten track gem in Crete:
4. Falasarna Beach, West Crete
Falasarna is a great all-around beach whether you’re a family with kids, a group of friends, or a couple. It’s a gorgeous, long sandy beach with plenty of space and things to do for both adults and kids.
You can relax on a comfortable sunbed and enjoy a cocktail or two. Or for those looking for a bit more action. You could do some watersports and rent a jet ski or kayak and explore the coastline.
There are also lifeguards on duty at Falassarna beach. So there’s an extra pair of eyes to watch the kids whilst they enjoy a swim.
And the cherry on top? You can find pink sand at Falasarna beach too! Only without the tourist crowds you’ll find at Balos or Elafonisi beach.
How To Get To Falasarna Beach
Another great reason to visit Falarsarna beach on the west coast of Crete is that it’s an easy drive to get to.
From Chania, it’s an effortless 1-hour drive on paved roads all the way to Falassarna beach. And when you arrive, there’s plenty of free parking space too.
Falasarna is also one of the best beaches to watch the sunset west of Crete island! Enjoy it directly on the beach or from one of the traditional Greek tavernas facing the ocean.
If you want to see Falarsarna beach without a car, then take this private sunset tour from Chania to Falarssarna beach.
Bonus Tip: Looking for fresh and tasty seafood? Then make sure to visit Kapetan Nikolas – you won’t regret it!
Best Places To Stay in Falasarna, West Crete
Enjoy the best sunsets everyday from the comfort of your own room or apartment by staying in Falasarna. Here are some great hotel options:
5. Balos Beach, North West Crete
Balos is one of the most famous beaches in Crete and it’s easy to see why that is so. Just take a look at this view and tell us you don’t want to go there, we dare you!
The natural landscape at Balos beach is exquisite to put it lightly. Its unique surroundings with a lagoon on the one side and the sea on the other are simply a beach lover’s paradise.
Like Falasarna, it’s one of the best beaches for families with kids, a group of friends, or a couple. And you can also find pink sand here! The only catch is that Balos beach is a lot harder to get to than Falassarna beach.
But don’t worry! We’ll give you 3 ways for getting to Balos beach so you can pick the best option for you.
How To Get To Balos Beach in Crete, Greece?
Let’s start with the most adventurous option – getting to Balos beach by car.
Getting to Balos by Car
Like driving to Paralia Menies beach, renting a jeep is a nice-to-have, but not necessary. You just need to be a steady, confident driver who is comfortable enough to drive on narrow and rocky, unpaved roads.
The road to Balos is pretty bad – we’re not gonna lie. Some may say that it’s too generous to even call it a road. But it definitely adds to the adventure if you love driving.
The good news, though, is that the bad section of the road to Balos beach is only the last 7 kilometers (between the Balos Beach ticket station and Balos parking area). It should take around 30 minutes to cover that distance unless you’re stuck behind an anxious driver.
The first 45km from Chania to the Balos Beach ticket station is a fairly easy drive all along the main highway. This part should take you around 50 minutes. So in total, expect to drive 80 to 90 minutes from Chania to get to the Balos parking area.
Once you’ve parked your car, it’s a 20-minute hike down to Balos beach.
Bonus Tip: Try your best to get to the parking area as early as possible (i.e. before 11 AM latest). The parking area gets full quickly and the alternative is parking along the dirt road that you just came from.
How To Get To Balos Beach by Ferry
This is by far the easiest and most stress-free way to get to Balos beach – taking the ferry. This way you can enjoy a relaxed full-day outing at Balos beach (and also see Gramvousa island) without worrying about the driving.
This was actually the option we took so we could see both Balos and Gramvousa beach in one day.
You can easily book your boat cruise or ferry to Balos Beach online to skip the queues:
Bonus Tip: Keep an eye out for the weather before you book your boat cruise or ferry. If it’s too windy or raining, then you may need to postpone your trip to another day.
Rent a Boat And Sail to Balos Beach
And for those who want the best of both worlds, you can hire a boat and sail yourself to Balos!
We didn’t know this option existed until we spoke to fellow travelers at Balos. But you can rent a small boat (for 2 to 4 people) at Kissomos to sail and explore Balos and Gramvousa at your own leisure!
And the best part? You don’t need a skipper license if you’re renting a boat with an engine smaller than 30HP.
The price of the boat rental is around €120 for the day. You’ll need another €60 for fuel and a deposit will probably be held on your credit card.
It’s definitely not the cheapest option for getting to Balos. But the fun and adventure will be unforgettable.
And if you prefer having a qualified skipper on board. You can also charter your own boat to Balos and Gramvousa island on a private cruise. Here are some options:
How Much Does It Cost to Go to Balos Beach?
There’s a small €1 entrance fee (local tax) that you need to pay per person to visit Balos and Gramvousa Island. The funds raised are used to restore and preserve this natural wonder.
Besides that, you’ll need to budget the cost of the car rental (around €40 to €50 per day) or ferry tickets (around €25) for getting to Balos beach from Chania.
Where To Stay in Kissamos, West Crete
Whether you’re taking the car or ferry to Balos beach, the closest place to stay is in Kissamos. Check out these hotel options:
Related Guide: The beaches on west Crete are gorgeous. But they’re often very crowded which can ruin the experience. If you want to get away from the crowds, why not explore east Crete instead? The beaches may not be as famous, but they’re equally breathtaking. Get all the travel tips and details in our Best Beaches in East Crete guide.
6. Gramvousa Beach, North West Crete
This is another famous beach you should not miss when in west Crete. Say ‘hello’ to Gramvousa Island – which is sometimes also called ‘Pirate Island’.
This remote beach is located on an uninhabited island off the west coast of Crete, not far from Balos. The island looks like a scene from the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. Complete with a 14th century Venetian Fort on the highest point of the island and even a shipwreck too!
The water at Gramvousa beach is incredibly blue and some of the clearest we saw in Crete. So much so, that it looked surreal.
On Gramvousa Island, you can hike 20 minutes up to see the Venetian Fortress perched on the cliffs above. It’s 137 meters high so you’ll get some breathtaking views of the island and even of Balos Lagoon from the top.
Or you can simply enjoy the sandy beach and swim in the crystal clear waters. Water shoes are not a must – but a nice-to-have so that you can easily walk over the flat-top corals near the shore to reach deeper waters.
And for those with snorkeling gear, you can swim to the shipwreck and snorkel around it. Like most of Crete, there’s often not much fish to see. But it’s a fun snorkeling spot to see the sunken shipwreck.
How To Get To Gramvousa
The only way to get to Gramvousa is by ferry or boat. The ferry to Gramvousa Island is usually combined with a day trip to Balos beach.
So we’d recommend skipping the challenging drive to Balos altogether if you want to visit Gramvousa in Crete.
You can easily book your boat cruise or ferry to see Balos and Gramvousa online to skip the queues:
7. Voulolimni Beach, West Crete
This is another amazing hidden gem to visit on the west coast of Crete – Voulolimni beach. It’s actually a giant, natural rock pool, rather than the traditional sandy or pebble beach you’ll find on the Greek island.
It’s probably one of the most unique places we found on Crete. So unique in fact, that we were surprised that none of the travel guides we read mentioned this place.
When we were there, there were never more than 5 people (including us) swimming in the natural rock pool at any time. And most of the people that arrived were locals.
We’d recommend bringing your water shoes and snorkeling gear to explore this rock pool. Out of all the beaches we explored in Crete, Voulolimni had the most amount of fish life. We even found an octopus here!
It’s an incredibly beautiful place and something worth adding to your western Crete travel itinerary if you love going off the beaten path.
Bonus Tip: Always take your trash with you when exploring hidden gems. Even when there are bins nearby. Crete can get pretty windy and it’s easy for trash to be blown into the ocean or nearby bushes where mountain goats could eat them.
How To Get To Voulolimni Beach
It’s surprisingly a pretty easy drive to Voulolimni beach from Chania. The entire 70km drive (or 1 hour 25 minutes driving time) is paved except for the last 300m to the small parking area.
It’s on the same road towards Elafonissi beach. So just follow Google Maps and it will take you there.
8. Elafonisi Beach, South West Crete
Elafonissi – Crete’s signature pink sand beach, is probably THE most famous beach on the Greek island. And as you can imagine, it’s visited by tons of travelers every year.
But for good reason. This pink sand is unique to Crete, which means that you won’t find it anywhere else in Greece.
Why Is There Pink Sand at Elafonisi?
The dreamy, pink sand that is found on Elafonisi beach comes from the Foraminifera shellfish. These are a type of plankton that leave behind their reddish-colored shells when they’ve completed their life cycle.
Over time, these shells are crushed by the ocean currents and become part of the sand, giving it that soft, pink hue.
Elafonissi may be known as the pink sand beach on Crete. But don’t be fooled into believing that the entire beach is pink – it’s not.
You’ll usually find Crete’s signature pink sand just around the edges of the water where the waves meet the beach. And the pink shade can be more or less intense depending on the ocean currents and the sunlight.
Sustainable Travel Tip: Enjoy and admire the pink sand all you want whilst you’re at Elafonisi beach. But please remember not to bottle it or try to take it home with you. Doing so will only destroy the natural beauty that makes Elafonissi one of a kind.
Is Elafonisi Beach Worth Visiting?
Besides the pink sand, we think that Elafonisi is definitely worth the visit, and here’s why. It’s a great beach to visit whether you’re a family with kids, a group of friends, or a couple.
There’s plenty of space for everyone if you don’t need sunbeds or umbrellas. You can easily avoid the crowds and find a less crowded spot by walking further away from the main beach towards Elafonissi South beach.
And if you have kids, it’s one of the most family-friendly beaches on west Crete. There’s a shallow lagoon where the kids can safely play and swim in. Showers, toilets and a small cafe (cantina) are close by. Plus the beach is easily accessible from the parking and no hiking is required.
What else can you ask for? Oh – and did we mention how Elafonissi has some of the clearest water in Crete? Plus, it’s also one of the best sunset beaches on the Greek island.
Bonus Tip: Many people don’t know this, but Crete island features more than just one pink sand beach! Elafonissi is the most famous one, but you can find pink sand at Falasarna and Balos beach too.
How Do You Get to Elafonisi Beach?
Elafonissi is one of the few beaches in Crete that is easy to get to by car. Well, for Crete standards at least…
It takes around 90 minutes to drive to Elafonisi from Chania along a windy and narrow, but tarred road all the way to the famous beach. Once you arrive, there’s a huge, free parking area at Elafonisi and then it’s just a short 5 to 8-minute walk to the beach.
Just follow Google Maps, take your time driving on the narrower sections of the road and you should get there safely in no time.
There are no street lights on most of the roads in Crete. So make sure to leave well before sunset if you’re not comfortable driving in the dark.
Otherwise, if you do want to enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets in Crete, then you should stay overnight at a nearby accommodation.
Related Guide: Looking to explore more beautiful beaches on the south coast of Crete? Then make sure you read our 5 Best South Crete Beaches travel itinerary!
9. Kedrodasos Beach, South West Crete
Kedrodasos is the furthest beach from Chania. But definitely worth the trip to enjoy a gorgeous beach that’s also quiet and secluded. And that’s not all – it’s also one of the best beaches in west Crete to watch the sunset!
This is another off the beaten track gem from Mel and Connor’s Crete adventures. We had this on our list too. But didn’t quite make it there because there are just too many beaches and too little time when you’re on the magical island of Crete!
Kedrodasos is a vast, sandy beach on the southwest coast of Crete. Unlike many of the beaches you’ll find in Crete, you’ll actually find some shade on this beach under one of its many cedar trees.
Another reason to visit Kedrodasos beach is for the swimming, of course. Not only does this beach have some of the clearest water in Crete, but it’s great for snorkeling too. You can find plenty of fish between the rocks and corals here.
Kedrodasos beach is not far from Elafonissi – so it’s a great alternative if you want to avoid the tourist crowds.
How To Get To Kedrodasos Beach
Getting to Kedrodasos beach from Chania is fairly easy. This hidden gem is around 74km from Chania, which should take around 1 hour and 40 minutes to drive there.
It’s on the way to Elafonissi beach. So most of the road is paved except for the last 2.5km stretch to the parking at Kedrodasos beach.
Once you arrive, there’s a short 15-minute hike down to get to the beach and you’ve arrived in paradise!
Tips For Visiting Kedrodasos Beach
Bring your water shoes to Kedrodasos beach. There’s a bit of a rocky entry into the water. Also, make sure to bring enough food and water because there are no shops or cafes nearby.
And lastly, bring your snorkeling gear because Kedrodasos beach is one of the best snorkeling spots on the west part of Crete.
Best Beaches To Visit Near Chania on West Crete
That’s a whole lot of beaches to explore on the west part of Crete island in Greece. So here’s a quick summary of the best beaches to visit in West Crete:
- Seitan Limania Beach
- Platanias Beach
- Paralia Menies Beach
- Falasarna Beach
- Balos Beach
- Gramvousa Beach
- Voulolimni Beach
- Elafonisi Beach
- Kedrodasos Beach
Related Guide: Visiting Crete for the first time? Then make sure you read our 21 Best Beaches in Crete travel guide. We’ve listed the beaches from most famous to off the beaten track hidden gems, as well as the best beaches for families and those that are most unique in Crete.