Another day in Crete, this time we headed to Preveli Beach and the Palm Grove. Like most beaches we go to, this one also takes some effort to reach, which we love! This area is on the South coast of Crete at the end of the Kourtaliotikos Gorge. The Megas Potamas River runs through the gorge and the turquoise water flows out to the Libyan Sea at Preveli Beach. Along both sides of the river are Palm Trees. These trees are endemic to the Aegean Sea area and are found in various areas in Crete.
You can also reach the beach by boat from Plakias, click here for information on this. I do not have personal knowledge about the boat tours but wanted to add information if someone is interested in this. I am sure there are several tours that leave from different places.
Directions to Preveli Beach
Preveli Beach is located in Southern Crete, less than an hour south of Rhythimno and an hour and a half Southeast from Chania, where we were staying. The roads were good and we had no problems driving there.
Just about 5 minutes outside the little village of Koxare, driving south, you will find the Kourtaliotikos Gorge. You can hike the gorge all the way to Preveli Beach which is about 3 miles. From what I have read, there is a path along the river. We decided not to do this hike as we could not find enough information and there were varying accounts as to the difficulty of the path’s condition. One recent account I had followed on Instagram informed that access was difficult and you may have to swim a portion. Anyway, we like adventure, but decided we did not have enough information to pursue this.
Side Trip to the Waterfall in Kourtaliotikos Gorge
What we did do though was hike down to the waterfall. When you are driving south from Koxare you will see the Kourtaliotikos Gorge entrance. Go past this and look for another entrance just shortly after the first. Continue south for about a tenth of a mile, or 100 meters and you will see a place to park. Park here then walk back to the second entrance and you will have access to the waterfalls. It is a short hike down and you will pass a small chapel. Make sure you go all the way to the bridge as most of the falls are not veiwable from above. Just before the bridge you can veer to the right, follow the path, and have a different view of the falls. Definitely worth a stop! Incidentally, we did look but did not see an obvious trail leading through the gorge towards Preveli Beach.
Hike to Preveli Beach
Once back in the car, we continued driving to the beach, which was just a short distance away. We were on the west side of the beach so we could hike down and experience the views from the cliffs above. Parking was easy to find, as was the trail leading to the beach. The path was easy to follow. There were a lot of steps and some loose rock but very doable. Again, I wore my Keen water shoes and felt they worked very well. I would suspect if you had knee or hip issues this would be a bit difficult.
NOTE: You can also enter the gorge from the opposite side of the river. My understanding is it is a shorter walk but not as scenic.
The views on the way down were amazing and Steve and I loved watching the beach, river, and pine grove unfold before us!
Once at the bottom of the cliff you will find a small taverna and the palm grove path is just beyond that. The beach was beautiful. The Libyan Sea was a deep clear blue with waves splashing ashore. Which complimented the greenish water of the river flowing into it beautifully. As we found out later, the river was icy cold and the sea was warmer. Although the beach and sea looked inviting, we decided to explore the pine grove first.
Walking Through the Pine Grove
The minute we started to follow the path, we knew we were in for an extraordinary treat. The lush green forest was unlike anything I have walked through and running alongside of it was the beautiful green blue water of the river. I really felt this was an amazing place and we walked along the path until we reached a part of the river that widened with many boulders in it. We did not see a clear path through this and decided to go back and enjoy the beach.
Enjoying Preveli Beach
We followed the pine grove path back and crossed the shallow icy river onto the beach. The beach was soft sand and we soon found a spot to hang at. We ventured into the sea to play for a bit. Caution, the beautiful sandy beach turns into slippery rocks once in the sea!! It was a hot windy day and we were amazed by how powerful the waves were here. You could feel the pull towards the sea after the waves slammed against you. Very refreshing, but we didn’t venture our far due to the strong undercurrents. Actually, we did not see anyone venturing out very far. After enjoying the refreshing water we hung out on the beach for awhile, just enjoying the moment.
The Hike Back Up
The hike back up was similar to other hikes on this trip. Up the stairs, and up more stairs!! I didn’t feel it was too strenuous although some of the steps were quite the reach for my short little legs! The big thing to know is there is no shade while on this cliff, the sun is hot so prepare accordingly.
Kato Moni Preveli Ruins
We stopped briefly at the Kato Moni Preveli Ruins. The monastery was founded in the 15th century. We noticed it along the side of the road and stopped to explore a bit. We decided not to tour it as we hadn’t eaten yet and we were hungry! I know, food always seems to win!
Time to Eat!!
After a busy morning and early afternoon we were starving! We stopped at a Taverna in a small town shortly after leaving the parking lot. No idea where we were but the food was amazing and service was great. Plus I tried my first Greek beer and it was excellent! Not to mention, the views were amazing. The feta stuffed tomato was beyond wonderful! I would highly recommend this place if I only knew where it was!!!
While planning our trip to Greece, I found the travel guide Top 10 Crete to be very useful. It lists the top 10 of places to go, restaurants, and sites. Then it also lists the top 10 by region and area. I felt it was a great planning tool, plus it came with a pocket size map.
I also bought a National Geographic Map of Crete and this was priceless as we lost our GPS several times. The map is pretty accurate and durable. It really did help us out!
Where We Stayed in Chania, Crete
While in Chania we stayed at the Domes Noruz, a beautiful seaside resort with wonderful amenities. Our room, which overlooked the pool, was comfortable and spacious with a plunge pool and soaking tub. The staff was welcoming. I will write more in a future post on where we stayed and ate during this trip. In the meantime, if you want you can click here for more information on Domes Noruz in Chania.
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