This is the longest natural gorge in Europe and has been declared a National Park and a protected nature reserve. It stands between two mountains at an altitude of 2,000 and 2,500 meters. It is 18 kilometers long and the most famous part of it, is where the slides close in to a width of only three meters. The gorge starts at Xyloskalo on the Omalos plateau and through a truly magical and amazing pathway runs down to the seaside village of Agia Roumeli, a beautiful beach with black sand in the Libyan sea. In the midst of the gorge stands the village of ‘Samaria’ which has a telephone, an area where a helicopter can land, a pharmacy and a police station. During the walk on the pathways, one cannot help but admire the rare plants and herbs – even used in modern pharmacology. Upon the rocks are the notorious wild goats of Crete, the so called ‘Kri-Kri’.
Once upon a time and as the legend has it, there was a temple made of corals on the small island of Elafonisi during the Minoan era. As the volcano in Santorini erupted the temple was shattered and spread throughout the island making the white sand turn pink. The crystal blue and warm waters of the sea along with the pink sand made this small piece of land a center of attraction for many visitors. You can visit this magical place either by boat (from the port of Chania) or by car (1 hour drive).
35 kilometers from Paleochora, floating in the Libyan sea, stands the island of Gavdos. It is 7,400 hectares in area and has less than 50 inhabitants. Castri is the name of the capital and Vatsiana and Ambelos are its two villages. Gavdos offers a vast variety of beaches to explore. The scheduled trips to Gavdos take place three times a week.
According to Homer’s Odyssey, Gavdos was the island where Odysseus was a cast away. Calypso in her attempt to lure Odysseus into living with her offered him immortality. Odysseus declined, longing only for his return to his wife Penelope. His prayers travelled to the mountain of the Gods, Olympus, and were heard by Zeus. Zeus sent the messenger God Hermes to order Calypso to free Odysseus and to help him on his journey. So Calypso helped Odysseus to build a boat of holy wood and also taught him to seek guidance from the stars and the moon.
Gramvousa is the place where the idyllic scenery meets history. The island’s eminent castle was built at its highest point by the Venetians. In 1825 Gramvousa became the first area of Crete to be freed from the Turks.
Balos is considered by many as one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Greece with its sparkling blue shallow waters. One can admire more than 400 different plants (of which 26 can only been seen here) and more than 98 bird species. Additionally the loggerhead sea turtle (Careta Careta) and the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus Monachus) often seek refuge here as the area has been declared a protected nature reserve.
You can reach Gramvousa and Balos either by boat from the port of Casteli or by car and then walk for about 15 minutes. Either way you choose to visit the view is spectacular.