Along The Coast Of Crete

Along the coast of Crete

As I write this in early June, temperatures are climbing into the low 30s, and set to climb to 38c, which is 100f for British visitors (of a certain age). The Paleohora area has many fine walks (see our two guides ‘Ten Walks from Paleohora’ and ‘More Walks from Paleohora’, available from the bookshop ‘To Delfini’), But unless you can set off very early (on the 7.15am bus to Kandanos for local walks or the 6.15am bus to Omalos via Sougia for Agia Irini, Samaria, or back to Paleohora via Lissos), it’s inadvisable to walk too far in the heat of June, July and August. A far better option is the Libyan Sea, and beaches with sun-beds and parasols, with swimming and snorkelling to cool off, although sadly the Sub-Aqua and wind-surfing centres in Paleohora are no more.

A more active and adventurous water activity is kayaking, if of course you have both experience and sea-kayaks. Last week Dominique and I loaded two (‘Scupper Pro’) kayaks on the morning ferry to Agia Roumeli, planning to paddle west along the coast to Sougia. The E4 path runs above the coast, certainly the most serious expedition hereabouts, and the 20km expedition takes around 12-15 hrs. Our estimation, on a flat, calm sea, with a slight following wind, was 4 hrs, with landings on Domata beach and at the foot of the Tripiti Gorge to stretch our legs – and the four legs of Dominique’s little dog “Chausette” who would sit at the front of her kayak!

(a)  'Chausette' and Dominique below sea cliffs near Agia Roumeli

(a) 'Chausette' and Dominique below sea cliffs near Agia Roumeli

Preparing to launch at Agia Roumeli, peaceful at 10am, Andreas Stavroudakis from the ‘Tarra’ restaurant shouted a greeting. “Have you got my mobile, in case you need help?” he asked. A nice thought, but we hoped we wouldn’t require rescuing. Hugging the coastline, and paddling below the immense cliffs of Cape Kalotrividhis, where the sea is such an incredible translucent aqua-marine colour, we beached the kayaks on the easterly of the two Domata beaches and plunged into the sea.

(b)  Approaching Domata beach

(b) Approaching Domata beach

Another hour, passing numerous small sea-caves, took us to the immense caves at Tripiti. We carried ample water with us, but checked the ‘cistern’ for interest,

which was almost full after one of the wettest winters in recent years. Lunch in the shade was by tradition spinach pies, ample calories for the second half of the trip.

(c)  Preparing to leave Tripiti

(c) Preparing to leave Tripiti

A short distance from Tripiti, around the headland of Cape Tripiti, on top of which is the tiny chapel of Profitis Ilias, is the church of Agios Antonios, with a distinctive ‘double’ roof. We paddled past this time, as landing is difficult, and headed across the bay towards Sougia. We paused by sea caves at the foot of the Keratidhias (‘Ochra’) Gorge, which drops steeply down from the village of Koustoyerako. It was here that Cretan resistance fighters and Allied agents came, to meet vessels and submarines from Alexandria bringing supplies, arms and ammunition, always on a dark moonless night. These caves could tell some stories!

(d)  Tripiti Gorge seen from the 'Samaria' ferry

(d) Tripiti Gorge seen from the 'Samaria' ferry

Steadily paddling took us into the little harbour at Sougia, after almost four hours in the kayaks and six hours total. We had acouple of hours to relax on the beach (in the shade) before the ‘Samaria’ appeared on the horizon, to return us to Paleohora.

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    • Alexander on October 4, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks for the information. I’ve been many times in Paleochora and I thanks to yu I discover there’s are so many more tracks to discover! I made quite some walks along the sea coast, except for the track from Agia Roumelli to Sougia. I’m planning to do that next year. I wonder if you’ve done it and could tell me whether it’s good enough marked with waysigns or not. I receive different comments on that.
    Furthermore, I often wandered why these Cretans haven’t come up with the idea of renting kayaks. I was surprised to read about your journey. Could you give me an address where I could rent a kayak, to make a trip as you did? Thanks again and keep writing. It’s october and I’m already looking forward going next may to Paleochora.
    Kind regards,
    Alexander Zöllner

    • Bob Tait on October 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    The route from Sougia to A/Roumeli is reasonably well waymarked with E4 signs and cairns, but is a difficult 2-day walk, and water can be a problem. I’ve done it in April twice, that’s maybe the best month and not too hot, and water at the bottom of Tripiti Gorge. We stayed overnight on Domata beach, then early next morning over to A/Roumeli (about 5hrs)
    I don’t know anyone who rents kayaks locally, but look at who run kayak holidays based from Loutro, and may be able to help.
    Best wishes,

    • werner on June 18, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Could you give me an address where I could rent a kayak?

    • on June 18, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Unfortunately there is nowhere to rent one in Paleochora as faras I know.

    One option for the tourist would be to bring a high qaualty inflatable kayak as ‘sports equipment’ on the flight. i have seen these used here and are really quite impressive and not too pricey. Here is an example of a brand that I am familiar with

    • johnny on November 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Went to Crete in September stayed in Maleme… Just up the coast (can’t remember the name now!) to the west was an excellent bay where we used to launch our two person inflatable kayak. The water was real calm most of the time, wind occasionally picked up and made it a bit choppy but overall it was fantastic. Real clear waters and best of all no annoying jet skiers!

  1. Where can I find out about the best Crete vacation packages online? BTW, beautiful pics!

    • on November 2, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    If you are from the UK you can find package holidays to Paleochora with Sunvil Holidays.

    Alternatively, you can book a flight to Chania using the discount links on the main site: You can also get cheap car hire and airport parking at that page too.

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