Tuesday, 14 January 2014

5 best Cretan beaches...with your dog

As I'm day dreaming of summer, of swimming in the sea and camping on beaches, I thought I'd post my top 5 beaches to go to with your dog. This list took me ages as there are just so many to choose from, but I think I'm happy now with my choices.
Do write any beach suggestions in the comments box below!

1) Agios Pavlos, Chania region
View of Agios Pavlos from the sea
This beach is ideal for getting away from it all...with your dog. Its remote location (accessible by boat or 7 hour hike) means that it is never crowded, even in high season

There are plenty of trees and rocks for shade

A great little dog-friendly taverna right on the beach means you don't have to carry all your provisions with you, and you can hide out from the midday sun with a cool beer

Free camping is not officially permitted anywhere in Greece, but along this stretch of deserted coast you can feel quite comfortable pitching your tent for a few nights
By the church of Agios Pavlos on beach of same name

Be aware:
A trip to this beach needs some planning. It takes some time to get there, so wait until you have time to enjoy it

Except for the single taverna, there is nothing around this beach (the nearest shops are a 1.5 hour hike down the coast). Take whatever you will need for your visit - sun cream, books etc - and expect peace and relaxation

Don't give water from the bathroom to your dog to drink - it's (barely) desalinated sea water

2) Kedrodasos, Chania region
View from Kedrodasos Beach
This is one of the most spectacular beaches in Crete, full of juniper trees, sand dunes. Here the sea appears magnificently blue due to the white shells and sand on the sea bed (as at neighbouring Elafonissi)

There is plenty of shade from the juniper trees, and space for everyone to find a place to relax away from other people

Asleep in the shade on Kedrodasos Beach

Be aware:
This area is a protected nature reserve due to the fragile and rare trees, the dunes and the wildlife they support. Visitors should respect and preserve this unique environment

For the above reason, authorities have become strict about free-camping in this area - maybe better to find another area along this coast, or to rent a room/apartment

There are no facilities here to buy food/water. Carry any provisions in (and waste out) with you

3) Ligres Beach, Rethymno Region 
Playing on Ligres Beach

I love this stretch of coast, from Preveli up to Triopetra, and it's difficult to chose just one beach. Ligres beach has amazing golden sands and clear, deep water

From here you can explore along the coast by the sand dunes and amazing rock formations between Triopetra and Agios Pavlos

Being a bit remote (as most of the South coast beaches), Ligres never gets really busy. Plus, the sands stretch off into the distance, and you can easily find a spot where there is nobody around to get annoyed by your dog

The lovely Ligres Beach Taverna and Rent Rooms are dog friendly, whether you are just popping in for lunch, or you're looking for a relaxing get-away for a few days
On Ligres Beach

Be aware:
There is very little shade on this, or any of this series of beaches. If you're lucky you can claim the shady area by the small cave or rocks on Ligres Beach, otherwise, you should carry a day-tent or large umbrella

The South coast is notorious for high winds. If there is a strong North wind, it would definitely be a good idea to rent a dog-friendly room/apartment rather than risk camping

4) East Tsigounas (Petrakis), Heraklion Region
Late afternoon on Petrakis Beach

I'm sure this beach wouldn't be on most people's list, but hear me out...

Petrakis beach is a relatively short and easy drive from Heraklion, and makes a good quick(ish) escape from the busy centre of the island

The wonderful beach cafe-bar there was very accommodating in the past when we showed up with dogs and children and camping gear etc. They serve good basic meals and drinks. The owner didn't mind us using their facilities (bathroom, drinking water, hammock etc) whenever we wanted. We were also welcomed at the second taverna (which serves slightly more expensive and varied menu than the beach bar), the last time we were there with our dog

It is easy to camp there, below the tamarisk trees that grow along the beach, giving shade

Free camping at Petrakis Beach
You are within reach of the slightly busier Lendas, where you can buy provisions from one of several mini markets

Be aware:
I can't think of any negatives here. This beach does not have the breathtaking beauty of some of other Cretan beaches, but it is very quiet, peaceful and convenient

5) Xerokampos, Lasithi Region

View over Argilos Beach, Xerokampos
There are lots of beaches at Xerokampos to choose from, each with its own character and charm (one with white clay you can apply to your skin, one with wetland environment and rare species of wildlife, one with sun loungers and umbrellas, some smaller, more hidden away etc etc). With so much choice, you can find somewhere to relax with your dog out of the way of other beach-goers

The Agrogiali Taverna, behind Ambelos Beach, were very welcoming to us and our 2 dogs when we last visited

Very little traffic passes along this coastal road, and each bay feels quite enclosed, so you can let your dog have some freedom without too much worrying
Walking round to Argilos Beach

Be aware:
There are few trees along this stretch of coast, so almost no shade at all. Carry a day-tent or umbrella big enough for you and your dog if you plan to be out in the midday sun


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