Monday, May 26, 2008

Preveli beach, Crete

This beach is on the south side of Crete (Greece's biggest island). You take the "highway" from Chania to Iraklio and, at the exit to Spili and Rethymno (NOT the first exit to Rethymno), you turn right. DON'T take the direction to Rethymno, but keep going right to Spili. At some point, further on down the road, you'll see the sign to Preveli. The last two photos were kindly contributed by some friends of mine, the others were taken from

If you're into visiting monasteries and churches, you can visit the monastery before you go to the beach; I personally can't be bothered with this kind of thing, because, once you see behind the formalities, it's all just a tourist industry that gives the church (and not the people) LOTS of money for nothing. And I'm especially angry at the church for its plans to ruin the area of Cavo Sidero (which not only features highly endangered flora species, but is protected by the NATURA 2000 program, which, sadly, has NEVER been respected by most "businessmen" and authorities in Greece due to our obsession with "development" and our fanatical belief that the only valid industry and source of income is tourism) with a huge golf course that will be built - with the government's blessing - by the provocatively wealthy Toplou Monastery and its partners in environmental crime, a company named "Minoan Group" and another named Loyalward. See more here. Really, I advise against wasting money on greedy monasteries and such - but if, despite all that, you're still so inclined, who am I to argue?

Anyway, further on down the road from the monastery, you'll see some signs leading to a parking area managed by the monastery (yes, you pay for that). From that point on, there are stair steps going downhill to the beach. This is the most well-known route to the beach and, as is the case with all paths and trails in rocky places, you'll need to be reasonably careful. Mind you, climbing upstairs back to your car might be somewhat tiring. There's also another path leading to the beach, but I haven't taken it yet.

But why on earth would one go through all this trouble? First of all, it's not your usual "fashionable" beach with the ultra-noisy beach bars. It's a mostly sandy beach at the delta of a river named Kourtaliotis, reminding a lot of tropical lagoons thanks to the many palm trees that grow there. There's also a path of some sorts that you can follow up the river until some point at least. The sea is really nice, with clean, cold waters. As is the case with nearly all Greek beaches, swimming and tanning topless is perfectly OK. You might also see people - mostly women - thonging there. As you're facing the sea, there are some rocks on the left side. You can tan nude there, no one will bother you. There's also a boatride and umbrella/beach chair rental business and I think I saw a cafeteria or something similar as well. There are also regular routes by boat to the beach, although I haven't taken one yet. They say these amenities are overpriced, but I've never used them, as there's no reason to: just lay your beach blankets or towels under the trees on the east side of the beach and you're done. Now, don't expect Preveli to be a secluded place: it' can easily get crowded but, thankfully, it's not noisy and it doesn't have the kind of riff-raff you'll find in other places.

Can I recommend Preveli? Yes, it's a really nice place to go to, with interesting nature, nice waters to swim in, a river to hike up along (follow the black plastic pipes, they've left them there to guide hikers) and there are also some other places you can check out along the way. The route to the beach is pleasing to the eye, too. And, of course, it's microkini-friendly and topless-friendly; as I already mentioned, there is even a small part where nudism can easily be practiced. I recommend, though, that you visit it on weekdays and avoid the dreaded month called August: in August, everything is way overcrowded and even the most secluded, quiet, relaxed beaches can become hell-holes with screaming, rude "parents" yelling at their spoilt kids and leaving tons of trash behind. One final word of warning: ALL beaches on the south side of Crete are affected by north winds, as the many gorges and canyons of the island seem to accelerate the wind and make things much worse down south.


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