An Adventurous Day Out in Crete

By Rosanna Langton on September 27, 2018

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.

blue palace beach

Most rooms commands 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 and swim into the crystal clear waters. Experienced divers can also explore the island’s caves and canyons.  

crete watersports

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. Listen to the sound of the waves and tuck in to simple seasonal dishes made with vegetables grown in the hotel gardens.

isola story rosie

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 signs 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 those exiled onto the island but condemned to live within sight of the mainland.

caique story rosie crete

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, an aniseed-flavoured spirit which is traditionally drunk at the end of your meal!

cretan feast

Top tip: visit on a Friday to get a flavour of an authentic cultural and gastronomic ritual: the Cretan Feast. Try the grilled lamb, roasted on a fire for five hours and learn to dance to traditional Cretan music!

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