“The wind is in from Africa, last night I couldn’t sleep….” (from the song “Carey”). The Matala Beach Caves are in Crete, the place that was home to hippies in the late 1960’s through early 1970’s. From the time I first heard of Matala, I really wanted to visit. Steve and I checked out the caves during our September 2021 trip to Crete.
Famous people from the Hippy era also spent time in Crete at the Matala Caves including Bob Dylan, Joan Baes, Janis Joplin and Cat Stevens. The most famous hippie who lived here was Joni Mitchell. Inspired by Matala, Joni Mitchell wrote her 1971 song “Carey” while living here. Carey was a guy who Joni lived with while there. This once small village became a mecca for the peace and free love souls of the hippie era. Living like nomads in the caves above the pristine sea and sandy beach these people were their own community, unlike any this small village had seen. Eventually they were driven out by the church and military. The caves remain.
Located in Southern Crete, Matala is about an hour and a half South and East of Rethymno. Rethymno is where we stayed so we combined visiting Matala Beach with also hiking Martsalos Beach earlier in the day.
The beach appears to be a popular place for both locals and tourists. The water is crystal clear and sandstone cliffs overlook the sandy beach.
The Caves at Matala date back way before the Hippies came to Crete. These man made caves were carved out in ancient times. They were possibly used as burial crypts or perhaps homes, as some of the caves are quite large. More than likely they were used for many different purposes over the years. Currently, the area is an archeological site and is open for tourist. For a small admission fee you can climb up to the caves and walk around in them. It is important to note, the cliffs are sandstone so they are slick. Wear good shoes and step carefully.
Although we did not stay long at the Matala Caves in Crete, we did channel our inner hippie and tried to imagine what life was like back then. While here, it was easy to imagine the free spirit lifestyle in such a beautiful place. I am glad we stopped here as not only was it a fun exploring, but it is also a beautiful place.
You can click on this link to read the lyrics and listen to Joni Mitchell’s song “Carey”.
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