Archives for September 2016

The Mindful Wanderer: A Guide For Socially Conscientious Travel

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The promise of a new adventure brings so much excitement.  Where will you visit? What will you see and experience? Who will you meet? What will you eat? But, in my opinion, there is a far more important consideration to take into account.  One that likely gets little or no thought at all. That consideration is what effect will your visit have on the people and the place you are visiting.

In my mind, every traveler is an ambassador of his or her country and a guest in the host country. With that in mind, Chad and I have made the decision to be responsible travelers, positively impacting the communities we visit, and leaving them with a positive view of our culture. The goal of this post is to encourage you to travel with a heightened sense of social awareness.  I think you will find that this will ultimately change the course of your travels and your travel experiences.

In my opinion, socially conscientious travel is important because it has the potential to be a catalyst for change. But what exactly does it mean to be a “socially conscientious traveler?”  I think that there are different meanings for different people, but, to me, socially conscientious travel means two things: the first is to be vigilant about avoiding travel experiences and activities that exploit the local community you are visiting, especially those attractions that exploit animals, children, and women; the second is the idea of giving back as part of the travel experience.  I am certainly not saying that you should turn your vacation into a mission trip. I am simply suggesting that you incorporate socially conscientious decisions and experiences into your awesome adventure. Let me explain.

Avoiding Exploitative Travel Experiences 

Chad and I were not always socially conscientious travelers.  I think this awareness comes from the experience of travel. The more you travel, and, quite frankly, the more you expand your geographic travel regions (like, travel outside of the United States and Europe), the more aware you become about (and, hopefully, engaged in) this concept.

I can pinpoint the exact moment that the notion of socially conscientious travel occurred to me.  If you know Chad and I well, then you know that we are major animal lovers. So it was only natural to us that we would spend out honeymoon on a photo safari in South Africa. It was literally the best experience ever. After our safari adventure was over, we made our way back to the city, and our itinerary called for a visit to Lion Park in South Africa. Lion Park offered the opportunity to have a personal experience with baby lion cubs, including petting them. We love animals so much that we didn’t even think twice about this. We were so excited to get to interact with and pet a baby lion!

It wasn’t until we returned to the United States that I started to think about this experience. Chad and I would never do anything to hurt an animal or intentionally support any organization that exploits, kills, or hurts animals, but I could not help but wonder, how were people able to pet baby lions? Where were their mothers? What happened to the baby lion when it grew up and had lost its fear of people?

I decided to do some internet research. My worst fears were confirmed. The cubs are bread in captivity for the purpose of being petted by tourists, and, even worse, after 6 months of age (when it’s too dangerous to continue to allow tourists to pet the lions), the cubs are sold to canned hunts where tourists pay up to $100,000.00 to hunt these lions (who have been petted and fed by humans all their lives) in enclosed spaces. I was literally sick to my stomach over this. I could not believe that Chad and I had paid money to this awful organization to exploit a baby lion that would ultimately die by being “hunted.”

After this experience, Chad and I decided that we would never again do something like this.  It was at this exact moment that I became a travel agent’s worst nightmare. When we use travel agents, I am very clear with them at the beginning of our consultation that Chad and I will not engage in any activity or experience that exploits animals, women, or children.  In fact, if the company offers these experiences to other tourists, we won’t use them at all. Once I get the draft itinerary, I research every single aspect of the trip activities to make sure we are not engaging in exploitative travel.

Two years later, we visited Thailand.  We worked with a travel agency that used only local, in-house guides with ties to the communities we visited and was socially conscious about the activities it planned. Elephant tourism is very popular in Thailand, and that often means that the elephant is being mistreated for the sake of tourism and revenue generation. While Chad and I were very excited about the possibility to have one-on-one interaction with these beautiful, gentle giants, we love animals and we did not want visit a program that exploited them.

On that trip (after a copious amount of vetting), we visited Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai, which is an elephant conservation organization that rescues unwanted or formerly exploited elephants with the goal of preserving the Asian elephant population in Thailand. Patara emphasizes education about the plight of the elephant with programs that allow you to learn about elephants while participating in their daily care. Their “mahout” for a day program, includes a bareback ride on the elephant. We did not see bull hooks being used, and, importantly, there were no chairs or wicker basket strapped to the backs of elephants to facilitate the ride, which could hurt the elephant. Nonetheless, I continued to wonder whether riding an elephant at all was ethical. I have read several articles about this since then, and while it is probably best to not ride an elephant at all, the safest way to ride an elephant is bareback and on the neck, like we did at Patara. That is the thing about socially conscious travel- it is a constant learning experience.
PataraThe best option in Chiang Mai is probably Elephant Nature Park. They have several elephant interaction day programs to choose from and even overnight and week-long volunteer programs, but none of them allow riding. Another beautiful aspect of this operation is that they have an on-property dog rescue.

Along the way during our travels in Thailand, we met other travelers who had also visited Tiger Temple and Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai, places that Chad and I made the conscious decision to avoid. Like the dreaded Lion Park, these tiger attractions have captive tigers and allows visitors to pet not only baby tigers but also full grown adult tigers.  Based on my research, they are known for drugging the tigers to keep them sedated enough to not attack tourists and also beating the tigers when they are too sedated to interact with the tourists.  It literally made me sick to hear that people were supporting these attractions and perpetuating the exploitation of tigers.

Another popular but controversial tourist draw in Chiang Mai is visiting the Karen Long Neck Villages. The artificial hill tribes popped up around the northern Thai border in the mid-1980s as a result of a civil war. The tribe has a custom whereby female tribe members have elongated their necks as a result of years of wearing heavy brass rings around their necks (from as early as the age of 4 or 5), thereby inspiring tourism to these villages. Many international tour companies discourage these visits because it is like visiting a human zoo, which was why Chad and I avoided the visit. This article does a nice job of explaining why the visit is considered exploitative of the tribe’s people, particularly the women and children. However, that does not stop thousands of tourists from visiting these mostly fabricated villages to buy “local” goods, watch children perform for tourists, and snap pictures of themselves with women and children who have the golden rings around their necks. To be fair, there are other articles that discuss respectful/socially responsible ways to visit these hill tribes.

It is exploitative experiences and attractions like these, found all over the world, that I emphatically encourage you to avoid. There are so many other alternatives and more meaningful and authentic experiences to have in the world that do not contribute to the suffering of an animal, a child, or a woman. You just need to spend a little time fully researching the activities, attractions, and experiences that your travel agent, your friend, or the internet recommends.

I think that this article does a really nice job of explaining what exploitative travel is and how to avoid it, but some easy and common sense steps include: i) researching each activity by cross checking them on Google, popular tourists websites (like Tripadvisor), and blogs and going through both the good and bad reviews and the photos; ii) reaching out to the organization to find out more about their conservation program, including where the money goes and inquiring about the full program details; iii) hiring local, independent guides that do not work for and have no financial incentive to bring you to places like the tiger attractions mentioned above; and iv) being weary of attractions where animals or humans are performing unnatural acts or where 100% guarantees of sightings are offered. And remember, there are no guarantees, even with hours of research and planning, that everything you do is going to be 100% ethical, but the point is to engage in experiences where animals and people are not being objectified for financial gain.

Charitable Travel 

On the other end of the spectrum is charitable travel.  This does not necessarily have to be volunteer travel (the idea of taking a trip for the purpose of engaging in a volunteer opportunity).  This can simply mean adding a charitable component to your travels.

Back to South Africa. Our agent mentioned that our private safari concession, Lions Sands Game Reserve partnered with the Bhubezi Community Projects to support a pre-school for a local village.  There were numerous volunteer, sponsorship, and donation programs to support the community project.  After doing some research, Chad and I came prepared with educational supplies to distribute to the children and medical supplies to distribute to the community.  This was such a rewarding experience, that we decided that whenever possible, we would incorporate a charitable aspect to all of our travels.

In Luang Prabang, Laos, we visited the Hmong village and its local school where we brought educational supplies, toys, and snacks to the children. We got to interact with the children in the classroom and see the look of pure joy on their faces when we gave them their very own notepads, pencils, and a snack.LP class

LP kidsWe recently had a similar experience in Peru where we visited an orphanage for girls and brought them toiletries and school supplies. kits box

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girls11Organizing a charitable travel component is not hard, even if you are not working with an agent, it is not very expensive, it does not take time away from your vacation, and it will probably be one of the more authentic and certainly most memorable parts of your journey.  It certainly leaves you feeling connected to the destination.

I hope this post has given you some perspective and has inspired you to not only be more conscientious about your travels, but also to incorporate some charitable component into your travels.  If your have any personal anecdotes or tips on how to be a more socially conscientious traveler, I would love to hear them. Leave me a comment or send me an email.

The 10 Best Beaches of Crete, Greece

Beaches postSadly, summer is officially over. But that’s okay, because it’s never too early to plan for next summer, and I am here to help you with a little Greek Island inspiration.  As you may already know, I am Greek.  What you probably don’t know is that my dad lives in Greece on the island of Crete in a small village called Anopolis.  Nestled in the White Mountains, Anopolis is a village of Sfakia, which is located in the southwestern part of Crete and is a prefecture of Chania.

I am always amazed by two things when I speak to Americans about their European travels.  The first thing that amazes me is that many American travelers to Europe don’t make it to Greece or if they do, it is not one of the first countries they visit. I may be biased, but in my humble opinion, Greece has something for everyone-history, food, shopping, beaches.  But, don’t take my word for it. Instead take that of the thousands of travelers who voted Greece best country to visit in 2016. It is also one of Europe’s cheapest countries in which to be a tourist and, again, in my opinion, the most hospitable.

The second thing that amazes me is that of the American travelers that have made it to Greece, almost none of them visit Crete, Greece’s largest island. Indeed, it is only recently (as in when cruise ships started putting Crete on their itineraries) that Americans have ventured onto the island of Crete. On thing is for sure– Crete is worthy of more than just a day stop at a port city on your cruise.  You probably need two or more weeks to really visit the entire island. Indeed, I have been visiting Crete for over 30 years and have still not seen it all!

Unlike many of the more touristy islands that are seasonal, Crete is inhabited year-round.  Also, more so than any other island, Crete offers travel opportunities for every kind of traveler.  If you are a hiker, you won’t find more gorges and trails on any other island (just ask the Germans who have been hiking Crete for decades).  If you like food, you are in for a treat.  If you are into wines, Crete is having a moment in oenology.  If you like history, Crete is the birthplace of the Minoan civilization, and, as such, has many sites to offer. But if what you are really looking for are some incredible beaches on which to spend your days (I mean, you are, after all, on an island!), then look no further. Below is my list of the 10 best beaches of Crete, and I promise you, the beaches you visited in Santorini and Mykonos will pale in comparison.

To give you a reference point for where these treasures are located, I found a map of the four prefectures of Crete online.  As you will soon see, most of the best beaches are in west Crete in the prefecture of Chania.crete-map

NUMBER 1: BALOS BEACH/LAGOONBalosI dare you to find a beach that is more visually stunning than Balos Beach. I mean, it is literally shaped like a heart because you fall in love with it as soon as you feast your eyes upon it, which is good since getting here can be a challenge.

Assuming you don’t have your own yacht/chartered vessel, there are three ways to get to Balos, which is located in the prefecture of Chania: 1) hike there, 2) drive there, 3) ferry there. I am not a hiker, so I would not consider the first option, but maybe you are. If that is the case, the trek is approximately three hours from the town of Kaliviani.

If you are not used to European roads, particularly narrow dirt mountain roads, and European drivers, I would suggest that you ferry over.  This is, by far, the easiest way to get here.  You can take a ferry from the town of Kissamos for about 30 Euros.  The added bonus of taking the ferry is that you will also get to visit the island of Gramvousa and you may see some dolphins along the way!

The town of Kissamos is about 26 miles from the port city and old capitol city of Chania. You can either book a tour that will take care of all of this for you, or catch a bus (or cab) from Chania to Kissamos.  Crete has a very comprehensive and organized bus system, K.T.E.L.  I know this because my family owns one of the buses and runs the route from Chania to Sfakia, so I take the bus from time to time. You would take the bus from Chania to Kissamos Port, which departs daily at 8:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. and returns at 6:00 p.m. (departure after the arrival of the ferry to Balos) and 7:00 p.m.  It takes about an hour to reach Kissamos by bus, and the cost is about 7 Euros.  The bus schedule can be found here.

If you take the ferry, you will take an hour ride to Gramvousa where the ferry ports for about two hours to allow passengers to swim and then a 20 minute ride to Balos, where passengers have three hours to swim.  The ferry in Balos is a water landing, so be prepared for that. The ferry leaves Kissamos around 10:00 a.m. and returns around 6:00 p.m.  The down side of taking the ferry is that you will not see the view above coming in.  To get that view, you would have to hike half way up the path that the hikers and drivers came in on; but trust me, it is worth the effort.

We came by car. By the way, if you want the experience of driving to Balos, as of 2015, there is a bus that will drive you there during peak season. Because it’s a nature preserve and because of the terrain, you can’t actually drive right up to the beach, but you can get close.  Once your turn off the main highway, you will use the local road to reach Balos.  The first 3 miles of the drive boasts a nicely paved road, but the last 5 miles is a dirt road. Before you reach the dirt road, you will pay a toll of 1 Euro per person (but parking is free).  Also, keep an eye out for the goats that lay across the road on your drive in on. This is what the dirt road looks like:road to balos

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balos coastI HIGHLY recommend that you get here early (like before the ferries start coming in).  There are very limited parking spaces relative to the number of visitors.  Once the parking lot fills up, they park you on the side of an unpaved mountain road with no guardrails (it’s pretty interesting to have to make a three point turn to turn the car around to leave), and you have to walk the rest of the way, which, depending on how many people are there that day, could be a long walk.  For us, it was 10 minutes, and that was just to get to the path that takes you to Balos Beach. This was the parking situation at noon:bbpark2If you have to park outside the lot, you will have to walk towards the lot to reach the path that takes you to Balos Beach. That path takes another 30 to 40 minutes.  It is also unpaved and there are stairs at some parts.  It starts out flat and then you climb down stairs to get to the beach (which means you climb up to get back!), so I suggest you plan very carefully for what you bring with you to the beach, and, do yourself a favor and wear sneakers, hiking shoes, or water shoes. Now is not the time to be cute! You will instantly regret flip flops. And, it’s hot! Put on sunscreen, drink water, eat protein bars, wear a hat, and just survive! The good news is that you can take a Donkey Taxi more than half way (both to and from the beach) for about 4 Euros.  The great news is that you get the most beautiful pictures ever. The path to the beach begins where you see this sign:donkey taxiThe road starts out looking like this, and you’re all like, what’s the big deal:dirt road into balosAbout half way, it turns to this: bb satirsBut, before it gets to that, you see this:bb2

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bb5You’ll know when you’re there when you see this, like a shining oasis: bb13

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bb8Sweet relief! bb9This is the lagoon side:bb10

bb11The water is shallow and cool, and the sand is pink!Pink SandIf you didn’t do it on the way in, on the way back, you’ll probably be like: bbtaxi

bb20Otherwise, it’s this: bb18According to Chad, he will never drive to Balos again, but I didn’t mind it. Some other helpful hints: there is a trailer restroom before you get on the path and a small snack bar.  Don’t count on those restrooms always being open or having toilet paper, so bring your own. There are also a couple of trailer stalls on the beach (these likely won’t have toilet paper) and they are Turkish toilets.  There is also a small snack bar on the beach.  There are no chairs or umbrellas for rent. 

I listed this beach number one for a reason. It is the most famous and most photographed beach in all of Crete. It is amazing, and it is worth all the work it takes to get here, so be not discouraged!

NUMBER 2: ELAFONISI BEACHef14Elafonisi Beach is also found in the prefecture of Chania, about 47 miles from Chania. There is a main beach and a islet that is joined by a sand bar. To get to this beach, you can drive and park in a dirt lot just off the main entrance to the beach or take a cab or bus.  You can also get here by private boat. The parking lot is quite large, but also gets very full as a ton of people visit this beach. From the parking lot, this is your view:ef7Once you park, you will see a bunch of snack carts and a small beach restaurant.  Walk towards the action to get onto the beach.  Just before you get onto the beach on the left, are a series of four trailer toilets (American style) that clean, stocked, and cost 1 Euro to use. This will be your view as you step onto the beach:ef25This beach is crowded, and there are chairs and umbrellas for rent, but it is also so large that you can literally escape the crowds.ef20To do that, you can walk through a shallow water pool/sandbar and go through the nature preserve part:ef22

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ef13Where you will find a much less crowded beach: ef17

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df5The sand here is also pink: elafonisi sandBecause I feel like my pictures really don’t do this beach justice, I did a Google search to find you some better ones that really capture this beautiful beach, and this website had some great shots:R_Elafonisi_jana_Rusinkova2_669_501_s_c1

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NUMBER 3: PREVELI BEACHpreveli beachIs this real life?!?  It is in Crete! This is Preveli Beach, which is located in the prefecture of Rethymnon, by the Preveli River and the famous palm forest. As with all the good Cretan beaches, there’s the easy way and the hard way to get here.  The easy way is to take a boat from Plakias or Agia Galini. The hard way is to drive. From Plakias, you will drive to the Preveli Monastary, and about a mile before you reach the monastery, you will park your car and walk down a seemingly endless amount of steep stairs that lead to the beach. The best pictures are on this route.  Apparently, you can also drive a dirt road leading to the nearby village of Drymiskiano Amoudi and walk a short 5 minute path to the beach. There are places to rent kayaks if you want to kayak down the river to get to the beach. Full Disclosure: I have not yet been to this beach yet (so this photo is borrowed from good ole’ Mr. Google), but it is on my list for when I return to Crete in May, so I will update this post then.

NUMBER 4: SEITAN LIMANI/STEFANOU BEACHSL5About 13 miles from the city of Chania, you will find this gem. To get here, drive towards Chania airport, and turn left  towards village Chordaki and then follow the signs to Rizoskloko. Signage will lead you to the beach.  The road is paved all the way, but the last part of the road is a small, winding mountain road with no guardrails.  You will come to an area where you can leave your car, and then you set out on foot for about 15 minutes down a steep path of stairs to get to the beach. The beach gets very crowded in season, so go early.  Also there are no amenities on this beach, so if you need it, bring it. The photos of this beach are brought to you courtesy of my god-sister, fellow wanderluster, and Cretan beach expert, Roula.SL

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NUMBER 5: GLYKA NERA/SWEET WATER BEACHSweetwaterThere are only two ways to get to this beach, which is located in Sfakia (where I am from) in the prefecture of Chania and literally translates into Sweet Water Beach- 1) drive, leave your car on the side of the road and walk this path about 30 minutes to the beach or 2) come by boat via the water taxis from Sfakia or Loutro. The beach is rocky and there is a small snack bar in the water perched on some rocks, but the water is crystal clear and cool.SW

NUMBER 6: FALASARNA BEACHfalasarnaLike Elafonisi, Falasarna Beach, which is also located in the prefecture of Chania, is made up of several sandy beaches.  Because it is on the west coast, this is a great beach to catch the sunset. The easiest way to get here is to drive the hour from Chania; otherwise, you can take the public bus, which runs routes during tourist season.

NUMBER 7: MARMARA BEACHmarmaraIf you were brave enough to hike 4 hours through the Aradaina Gorge, guess where you ended up? Right here! Truthfully, you came to a road that had a passage for a steeper road down to the water which lead you here. This beach is also in Sfakia, about 53 miles from Chania.  You can drive here (park your car up top on the side of the road and walk on down that steep path) or take a public bus to Sfakia and then take a boat over. There is a small tavern on the beach and a few umbrellas and sunbeds, but that is about it. There are some great caves to snorkel in, but the water is very deep.marmara 2

NUMBER 8: MATALA BEACH OR TRIOPETRA BEACH  

The number 8 spot is a tie between Matala Beach or Triopetra Beach.  These beaches are about an hour away from each other.  Matala is located in the prefecture of Heraklion, while Triopetra is located in the prefecture of Rethymnon.

If you are a hippie or a hippie at heart, then Matala Beach (and the surrounding toewn) is your spirit animal. In the 1960’s a community of backpacking hippies decided to make the ancient caves located on Matala Beach their home, including Joni Mitchel after her breakup from Graham Nash.  This is where she met Cary who later became the subject of her song “Carey.” I have not yet visited this beach (so photos are courtesy of the Internet), but apparently, the hippies are alive and well here, and there is nudity on the beach (which, by the way is not uncommon in Europe and on most Greek beaches). Also, in the summer (usually June), you can catch the free three-day annual music festival.

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If you like a beautiful, natural but not as crowded beach, then head to Triopetra Beach, which translates into “three rock” and was named after the three rock formations found on the beach. I have also not yet been to this beach, but I hear that it can be very windy here, but what’s a little wind when you get to see views like this (which, I again borrowed from the Internet):Triopetra-Beach-South-Rethymnon-Crete

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NUMBER 9: LOUTROloutro4If you want to visit a true beach town, head to Loutro, in the prefecture of Chania. There are no cars here and no roads, just beaches, hotels, tavernas, and shops. There are only 2 ways to get here: 1) by foot and 2) by boat.  You have to be a serious hiker to get here by foot. If that is you, take the bus (or drive) to Sfakia.  You can start your hike here.  In fact, you can visit Glyka Nera (number 5 above) first as you can start your hike here and the same trail will end at Loutro. This is a long hike and will likely take 3 or more hours.  Alternatively, you can come to our village (Anopolis) from Sfakia, and start your hike basically from my house which sits at the foot of the mountain you need to climb up to get there. This is the center of Anopolis:AnopolisBefore you get to the center, on the left hand side is my cousin’s bakery:bakery

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bakery2She makes everything from scratch everyday.  Her goods are delicious.  She also harvests her own honey, which is life changing.  Ask her to make you a Sfakian pie, stuffed with mizithra cheese from our cheese factory. eatOnce you are at the center of Anopolis, stay to the left of the circle and then take the road to the right, you’ll be on your way.  After passing about 10 houses, you will be at the foot of the mountain. If you see a black BMW with a Florida license plate, you’ll know you are in the right place, at my house!  Stop in and say hi to my dad, George, and I bet he will cut you some graviera cheese (which we make at our cheese factory just up the road), pick you some figs from our trees and grapes from our vines, and treat you to some raki.cheese2This cheese is legendary!  You can only get it in Crete. There is an entire festival held in August in its honor! I’m not kidding:festThis is my uncle Andrea, who, with the help of my dad, makes the cheese:AndreaNext thing you know, this will be your situation (by the way, you are supposed to dip the cheese in the honey!):eat2He may even take you out back and show you some of our goats! goatsAfter fueling up for your hike, you will be on your way! The hike will take about 2 hours. Go straight through the gate below to start your Loutro hike, or stay on the path to the right, and climb up to the church at the top before heading down and on to Loutro.Loutro hike2

Loutro hikeIf you chose to the visit the small church on top of the mountain, you will come through this gate.  There are amazing views from up here.Church 3

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ChurchAfter your visit look for this cross on the bottom of the small path leading to the church and across from this cross will be a rock that shows you the way.marker

Loutro3You are heading here: LoutroIf you opt for the easier route, you can take the ferry from Sfakia, which runs every day at 10:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m., or take a water taxi over (or your own private boat). With the ferry you can also visit the beach in Agia Roumeli. This is Sfakia:sfakia3The ferry leaves from here in Sfakia:ferryThe ticket office is before you reach this landing:ticket officeBefore you reach the ticket kiosk, there is a small ocean-side snack bar where you can stop in for a delicious gyro and wait for the ferry to arrive.sfakia

gyro2Once you board the ferry, in about 20 minutes, you will reach Loutro.ferry2

loutro7Most people walk the semi-circle and stop at the first beach.  If you keep going all the way to the end, there is another beach next to some huge rocks, which offer nice snorkeling opportunities, and this beach is less crowded. There is also a snack bar right near the beach with a restroom. The water is cool and the beaches are rocky.loutro waterIf you miss the ferry back or want to stay for a while, book a room at my family’s hotel on the island, and tell my cousin George that I sent you!protopapa2Also, there is no nude or topless bathing in Loutro.sign

NUMBER 10: FRANGOKASTELLOfrang9If you are looking for long sandy beaches that are suitable for families with children and have an added bonus of ruins to explore, then you have found your paradise. Frangokastello is located in the prefecture of Chania. You can get here by bus, car, or boat. There are a few beaches you can visit in this area. The first is right at the foot of an ancient castle.frang beachEither before or after the beach, make sure to stop in and explore the castle.frango

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About a quarter of a mile east of the castle is a beautiful beach called Orti Amos, which translates in standing sand. The beach gets its name from the high sand dunes, but there are stairs you can use to get down to the beach. fran8

frago 5Are you still with me or have you wandered off into beach bliss heaven? Quite frankly, I couldn’t blame you if you have. As you can see, Crete is not lacking in the amazing beaches department. The waters are clear and a kaleidoscope of blues. The landscapes and backdrops surrounding the beaches aint too shabby either! But wait, there’s more! Here are a few other beaches that are also nice: Kournas Lake, Ombros Galos, Agia Roumeli (if you hiked the Samaria Gorge, you ended up here!), Chrissi Island, the Beaches of Kissamos, and Beaches of Elounda.

With this list, no matter what part of the island you find yourself on, rest assured that an amazing beach is not too far away. I hope I have convinced and inspired you to visit the island of Crete. Stay tuned for my next (non-beach related) post on Crete! As we say in Greek, Kαλό Tαξίδι (Kah-low Tax-eeh-dee), which roughly translates to have a nice trip!