Mountain and Sea Combine in Spectacular Cretan Adventures



Captain Experience (Courtesy of Crete Boats)

There are few places in the world where high mountains, traditional villages and a rural lifestyle combine with close proximity to the sea, a mild climate and a stunning natural landscape.

However, the Greek island of Crete is one of those places — an island perfect for nature lovers, climbers, hikers, swimmers and even bird-watchers. Let’s take a look at some different adventures people can enjoy in the wild Cretan environment.

Watersports

Waterskis and jet skis are among the popular options to enjoy the sea around the island. Scuba-diving is also becoming more and more popular.

There are centers offering instruction in the most important resorts on Crete’s northern coast, however, the best diving possibilities can be found in the eastern area of Elounda.

Diving in Crete (CC0 Creative Commons).

For those interested in exploring the southern shores of Crete, especially around Plakias, Phoenix Dive Club is one of several options in the area to delve into the submarine environment of Crete.

Windsurfing and boat rentals remain a little underdeveloped but a few options have come to the rescue, among them the concept of Captain Experience in the stunning beaches of Agia Pelagia, close to Heraklion. Crete Boats are offering tourists the possibility of becoming a captain for a day, even if they have never stepped on a boat before. Their craft are easy-to-sail vessels making it a fun and trouble-free experience.

Captain Experience (Courtesy of Crete Boats)

Hiking

Another wonderful characteristic of the Cretan landscape is the number of paths and gorges that cut their way through the different mountain ranges.

Cretes’ most famous attraction is Samaria, the longest gorge walk in Europe, where spectacular scenery gives hikers not only a full sense of achievement but an unforgettable experience. Other than Samaria, Crete is also home to more than 50 gorges in the prefecture of Chania alone.

Entrance to Samaria Gorge (Source: Deneb [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons)
In the area of Heraklion, Agio Gorge presents visitors with a rather easy hike about an hour long ending in a solitary pebble beach with calm waters. It’s name — Holy Gorge — stands for the caves in the area which are thought to have been occupied by Christian hermits in the past.

In the prefecture of Lasithi, Richtis Gorge is a ravine as well as a state-protected park near Exo Mouliana, in Sitia. The gorge ends at the secluded Richtis beach and the trail is about four kilometers (2.4 miles) in length of moderate difficulty.

The gorge is home to rich vegetation and animal life while old stone bridges, water mills and the Richtis Waterfall and beach turn this into a unique experience of diversity.

Richtis waterfall and gorge (Courtesy of Kostdro – REVIEWS, CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the prefecture of Lasithi, the Gorge of the Dead, or Zakros Gorge is an amazing ravine that takes about two hours to walk. The path is also the final portion of the E4 European footpath. High in the gorge walls, it is possible to observe the mouths of caves which were used as tombs in Minoan times, and which are the reason for the name of the gorge.