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Crete, the Largest of the Greek Islands:
a Paradise for Water Taxis…
and Hikers

07/02/2022
Laurent Lefèvre

Island of gods, mountains and turquoise waters with peaceful bays only accessible on foot or by water taxis, Crete (3,218 square miles) has a lot to offer to climbers and hikers who love deserted beaches during off-peak season (in early June).

Combining culture (gastronomy and living traditions), history (presence of different civilizations visible in the architecture of beautiful cities like Chania or Rethymno), treks and the discovery of peaceful bays, Crete has indeed many assets.

From Chora Sfakion to Sougia via Loutró

Located in the west of Crete, south of the Chania Prefecture, these villages (Loutró had 56 year-round residents at the last census) are connected by coastal paths that in some places follow the E4 long-distance hiking trail, the longest in Europe – more than 10,000 km from Cape St. Vincent (Portugal) or Tarifa (Spain) to the mountainous regions of Cyprus.

For hikers who want to discover Crete, I recommend visiting this southwestern part of the island in spring or autumn, spending ten days there, underlines Efi Petinaki, a guide from La Balaguère, a French travel agency specializing in trekking. You should not stay only on the coast: it is in the mountains, in the small villages that you discover the authentic Crete.

When the trail plunges towards beaches, pebbles and gravel crunch under the walking shoes (Crete, Greece/Crète, Grèce).
When the trail plunges towards beaches, pebbles and gravel crunch under the walking shoes (Crete, Greece).

On The Coastal Paths

The smell of thyme and savory perfume from these rocky paths that offer panoramic breathtaking views of the Libyan Sea is something not easy to forget. Winding along the cliffs, they allow to admire in the background the White Mountains (Lefká Óri, Παχνές in modern Greek). The ascent to its highest point (Mount Pachnes, 2453 m) can be done from the village of Anopolis (about six hours with a difference in altitude: + 700m / – 700m). And in winter by ski touring, depending on the snow and the weather!

In some places, the trail plunges towards pebble or gravel beaches that crunch under the walking shoes: diaphanous sea on the left, cliff on the right. The hiker, vaccinated against vertigo, discovers himself as a deserted beaches lover.

Between the beaches of Agios Pavlos and Agia Roumeli, the path crosses a sumptuous forest of Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis also called white pine of Provence), a Mediterranean coniferous tree. In Greece, its resin is used to perfume Retsina, a dry white or rosé wine produced for two millennia.

Between the beaches of Agios Pavlos and Agia Roumeli, the path crosses a sumptuous forest of Aleppo pines/Entre les plages d'Agios Pavlos et d'Agia Roumeli, le chemin traverse une somptueuse forêt de pins d'Alep (Crete, Greece/Crète, Grèce).
Between the beaches of Agios Pavlos and Agia Roumeli, the path crosses a sumptuous forest of Aleppo pines (Crete, Greece).

Gold digger of horizons

Deserted by tourists in June, the coves and bays that can only be reached on foot or by water taxis appear isolated from the world, such as Glyka Nera beach (between Chora Sfakion and Loutró), the cove of Marmara or the Phoenix bay (Finix). Each time, departing or arriving from a hike, their translucent waters with turquoise reflections capture the hikers’ attention like a lover in perpetual search of reassurance.

Opening on a large area, they are an invitation to travel and to explore an infinity of possibilities. With a single glance, we admire their rounded shapes that draw a sanctuary conducive to all returns. The cliffs that rise in the background like ramparts seem to stand guard over these havens of rest.

On June 16 at 6:13 a.m., Loutró wakes up quietly: no rush hours!/Le 16 juin à 6 h 13, Loutró se réveille tranquillement (Crete,Greece/ Crète, Grèce).
On June 16 at 6:13 a.m., Loutró wakes up quietly: no rush hours! (Crete,Greece).

Argonaut of the sea bed

From Marmara beach, several submerged caves are accessible by swimming: swapping his hiking sticks for a simple bathing suit, the walker becomes an Argonaut of the sea bed!

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