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In the South of Crete: the beaches of Triopetra

Exploring the beaches of Crete. A few days in Rethymno province around Triopetra and Agios Pavlos.

The wind howls in the night. But I should rather say that it whistles, crackles, bursts, roars. I feel the air smashing on the walls of our studio on the top of a hill. Even if it’s dark I can see it, I hear it, bending the olive trees, crashing on the rocks, raising dust and slapping the sea down below. Many warned us that Crete was windy. I knew Greece and I had experienced its strong winds, but I had never imagined anything like this. “It’s the meltemi and here can be this strong sometimes”, says Yannis, the hotel owner. “You have to come back in September, or October, when it’s much nicer”, he adds. But in the morning, once the sun has risen, this panorama is a sight to see from the balcony of our hotel, Notos (which is beautiful). The wind has washed away all the dirt, the humidity and the colours are shining in an unreal way. Yellow, blue, green, white. And then that sound. I like it, it brings back memories. The wind reminds me of summers, of my beloved mountains in Italy, but also of Greece. It binds together so many trips in my memory.

Can you see all the colours in this picture?

Beaches close to Triopetra

Triopetra has a large, beautiful beach with two excellent taverns, standing just a few metres from the sea. On its eastern side there are the three rocks that give the name to the place: Triopetra means three rocks. But today that beach is too exposed to the fierce wind. We follow Yannis’s advice and go to the smaller one, which is just as beautiful, maybe more, and offers a better shelter from the wind. There are also other beaches, quite close: there is Preveli, with its famous palm trees, there is Agios Pavlos with its large sand dunes. A few kilometers further away there is the more crowded Agia Galini.

The two beaches of Triopetra

The small beach is incredibly beautiful. It’s not empty by any means, though. It has a few rows of beach umbrellas. You buy a drink or eat something at one of the two tavernas and you can have one for the day. One of the taverns at the moment works only as a bar (Vassili) while the other (Apanemia) starts with breakfast around 9 and keeps cooking excellent food until late.

The rocks sheltering us from the wind are yellow, striped and jagged while the water is crystal clear and it breaks up into a thousand colors, a thousand reflections . The sand is of a strange dark gray color: when the gusts get intense, and it can happen in windy days, its grains are raised and can hit you like a whip. It’s better to enter the water when this happens. On a day with a weaker wind it would be paradise. Today is just very , very nice.

On the beach of Triopetra, Crete

On the beach of Triopetra, Crete: how many shades of blue can you see? (photo by Patrick Colgan, 2016)

Beaches of Triopetra: the small beach

A few beach umbrellas in the central part of the beach (photo by Patrick Colgan, 2016)

Beaches of Crete: the three rocks of Triopetra (photo by Patrick Colgan, 2016)

The three rocks of Triopetra on the large beach (photo by Patrick Colgan, 2016)

The beaches of Agios Pavlos

Day two. The wind does not leave us. We seek an even more sheltered bay and we try Agios Pavlos. The place is famous for its two beaches, one with umbrellas and a bar and the other one much wilder: both are characterized by large sand dunes that descend into the sea. But the wind is too strong: it’s not the right day to explore them.

The beach of Finikidia

The wind forces us to become more creative and to seek alternatives. From a distance we see a beach that seems deserted and very sheltered. Moreover, the sea in front of it doesn’t seem beaten at all by the wind, and the water looks beautiful, it’s turquoise. It’s definitely below the road to Agia Galini, we think. Judging by the handmade map Yannis has given to us it looks it’s called Finikidia. So we take a dirt road on the right that looks promising. It’s steep and it ends in front of a gate. No, it doesn’t lead to that beach. We see it below us, just a little to the left.

If only we could get to the sea level: but the terrain is rough and we could hurt ourselves badly. So we take the car again to the main road and we leave the car in front of another dirt road.

We fear getting stuck. We walk slowly, under the sun, and after a hundred metres we see a hand written sign: “beach”, while the blue is getting closer, enveloping us slowly in a beautiful embrace. It’s the magic of Greece.

The beaches of Crete: Finikidia

Following the road to Finikidia (photo by Patrick Colgan, 2016

The beach is quite sheltered and pebbly. This means that the wind can’t raise anything except our slippers and clothes. We put stones on them. It’s a deserted beach, not equipped in any way. And this is wonderful, even if there is no shelter from the sun: the only shade is provided by some trees at the end of the road . But they are already occupied by a couple. We are not alone. Almost alone.

The sea of south Crete

The sea of south Crete (photo by Patrick Colgan, 2016)

How to get to Triopetra

Crete is a large island, full of historical and natural wonders. We had very few days and our idea was to make base in a quiet area with a lot of nature and a beautiful sea. The area turned out to be perfect for this. It’s about 50 kilometers south of Rethymno. From the Chania – Rethymno road, take the turn south to Agia Galini. A few kilometers after the beautiful town of Spili (worth a stop), you will see the signs to Triopetra. The wind, in Crete, is something you will have to take into account as some days can be strong (check the forecast!).

For Finikidia: arriving from Agios Pavlos take the road to Agia Galini and then the second dirt road on the right. The road is part concrete, part dirt. After a hundred metres there will be a sign pointing to a beach on the left and private homes on the right. We did see a small car driving right to the beach and it might be doable. Otherwise it is a 10-15 minute walk .

Triopetra on a map of Crete

Triopetra on a map of Crete

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