An Adventurous Day Out in Crete
Gorgeous beaches, crystalline waters, fertile valleys and traditional villages; visitors to Crete can look forward to a slower pace of life. Locals cannot wait to share their Cretan hospitality, with their renowned olive oil, wine and rich produce, among the best in Greece.
But with its dramatic landscape – mountains, deep gorges and caves – Crete is a playground for adventure seekers.
Where to stay in Crete?
Tucked between the small fishing villages of Plaka and Elounda is Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa. The stone walls and indigenous gardens at this luxurious retreat blend effortlessly into the wild landscape.
Most rooms command an unrivalled view of Spinalonga Island. With influences from the Venetians, Turks and the Ottomans, Spinalonga’s history and architecture echoes Crete’s own heritage, but it is most well-known as a former leper colony (1903-1957). Gaze at this national monument and surrender to the wild beauty of the region at Blue Palace.
Morning: dive into the blue and walk to nearby fishing village, Plaka
The calm, clear waters of the Cretan Sea are ideal for beginner divers. Ron and Theodora from Blue Palace’s water sports kiosk by the beach, will guide you through the area’s underwater world. Explore submerged ruins at Monastiri alongside turtles, grouper, mullet fish and more. Experienced divers can also explore the island’s caves and canyons.
Only 10 minutes’ walk from Blue Palace is the charming traditional fishing village of Plaka. Sit down for a freddo cappuccino in the village square and look across the bay to Spinalonga. Walk past the brightly coloured fishing nets to the end of the pier and you can actually see the island’s abandoned houses.
Lunch: Light snacks at Isola Beach Club
Relax in the shade of the olive trees at Isola Beach Club on Blue Palace’s private beach. Tuck into simple seasonal dishes made with vegetables grown in the hotel gardens as you listen to the sound of the waves.
Afternoon: hike to Richtis Gorge waterfall or sail to Spinalonga
A scenic drive round east Crete’s rugged coastline will take you to the remote Richtis beach and Gorge. Adventures seekers can spend the day hiking from Exo Mouliana or if you park in Richtis beach car park, it’s a 45-minute hike to the spectacular Richtis Gorge waterfall. Follow red and yellow markers into the gorge, passing through fields of fragrant herbs and wild flowers.
Top tip: the winding drive down to the beach is an adventure itself! This is for confident drivers only or consider booking a tour with the concierge.
Set sail on a traditional Caique and explore the Mirabello Gulf. Discover remote coves and visit Spinalonga island. Wander through the abandoned village and get a sense of what life was like for the exiles who were condemned to live isolated, but within sight of the mainland.
Top tip: before you arrive, read Victoria Hislop’s bestselling novel, The Island, for a dramatic re-imagining of one fictional family’s experiences on Spinalonga.
Evening: experience a traditional Cretan Feast at Blue Door Taverna
Sit down to a traditional Cretan meal at Blue Door Taverna, a restaurant in a former fisherman’s house on the beach. Eat family-style and sample local delicacies like sea bass with wild greens, octopus and stuffed vine leaves. Watch out for the raki! This aniseed-flavoured spirit is typically drunk at the end of your meal.
Top tip: visit on a Friday to get a flavour of an authentic cultural and gastronomic ritual: the Cretan Feast. Try the fire-roasted lamb, and learn to dance to traditional Cretan music!
Discover more about Crete.