The Pentozali Issue
If you want buzzing cities and fancy resorts, head to the north coast of Crete. But if you’re looking for something wilder, more elemental and authentic, follow the twisting mountain roads, and signs pockmarked with bullet holes, to the deep south.
The Sfakia region is one of our favourites. The road peters out at Hora Sfakion, a little port with excellent bakeries. This is the departure point for exploring a beautifully desolate coastline, peppered with pebble coves backed by bone-white cliffs that give the Libyan Sea its dazzling hues.
What makes these beaches so special is that none of them are accessible by car. If you don’t want to hike along the fabulous, but strenuous, coastal trail, we’ll whizz you to the beach of your dreams by speedboat. First stop: Glyka Nera, or Sweet Waters, where the dark green sea is fed by mountain springs.
Beyond that is Loutro, a car-free hamlet hugging a sheltered bay, that’s so tranquil it’s hypnotic. If you can resist the urge to do nothing, it’s an easy walk, kayak or canoe to Marmara beach, which has a very fine taverna, where you must try the local speciality, sfakianes pittes, thin and crispy dough filled with creamy goat’s cheese and slathered in honey.
From Marmara, you can hike up Aradaina, one of the gorges that splice the White Mountains. The most famous is Samaria Gorge, but there are dozens of smaller ravines with equally magnificent scenery, minus the crowds. The Aradaina bridge is a popular spot for bungee jumpers, who think it’s a thrill to plunge 138m into the abyss.
The Imbros Gorge, close to Hora Sfakion, is less challenging. Gentle enough for families, kids will marvel at the landscape: at one point, the walls of the gorge are less than 2m apart and 300m high.