We love hiking and enjoyed another adventurous hike during our September 2023 Greece trip from Loutro Crete to Marmara Beach. This was one of my favorite days of this trip. We had not intended to hike this far, nor climb so much, but the day was beautiful and we just kept going. What was really memorable about this day, is we felt the authentic Crete vibe. Everything we love about Crete. A boat ride, small villages, ruins, a coastal hike with scrambling, swimming in the sea and ending the night with amazing Greek food up in the mountains. We had a great sampling of Crete in just one day!
We again had breakfast at Sfakia near where we were staying. As far as I am concerned all great days start with a great breakfast and nothing beats a Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts, cup of coffee, and an orange juice. It is even better with a sea view.
Ferry Ride to Loutro
After breakfast we walked to the port and caught a ferry to the small village of Loutro. It was a beautiful day and we were all smiles as we left the port and enjoyed our ferry ride.
Loutro can only be reached by sea or by foot and we choose by sea as we planned to hike the other side of Loutro. Loutro is a lovely little village and not many people were there this early in the morning. After wandering just a bit we decided we would hike first and then see more of Loutro when we returned.
Finding the Koules of Loutro
We do like exploring the different ruins in Crete and we knew we wanted to check out this one in Loutro before hiking towards Marmara Beach.There was no sign in the village where to begin the hike but since I had GPS coverage we decided to follow Google. Although this is not always the best way to find a hiking trail, it worked. Although later on during this trip, Google failed us terribly more than once!
We followed Google to a narrow alley and through what may have been residential apartments. Shortly we were out of the village and followed a narrow dirt path to steps going up a hill. My GPS was no longer working but this looked like it led to somewhere, so we hiked up the steps which led to a beautiful viewpoint looking down on Loutro. We continued up the steps, let ourselves through a gate, found another viewpoint, and just up the hill we saw the fortress.
Koules of Loutro
The Koules of Loutro is another Turkish Fortress which was built in 1868. More recently, the Koules was used as a school after Crete was freed from Ottoman rule and into the middle of the 20th century.
The fortress was fun to explore but we had to be quite careful as there were loose rocks and stones all over. We walked towards the end of the peninsula near the Archeological Area of Ancient Phoenix. We did not go and explore this area as we had other places we wanted to see. Phoenix was the name for two different towns on the south coast of ancient Crete. This particular town is mentioned in The Acts of the Apostles. When the Apostle Paul was held prisoner, the ship he was on planned to dock and spend the winter here. A storm came up and they could not sail into the strong winds which prevented the ship from arriving in Phoenix. (Acts27:12-16)
We decided to continue our hike. We were thinking of hiking to Marmara Beach but we weren’t sure if we could get there by walking so decided we would check it out. The path was dirt with some loose rock but it was not difficult to hike so we kept on going. The next spot we noticed was the little village of Finika. It was postcard perfect. We did not go into the village but instead passed by it from above.
As we kept walking the area was looking familiar. This was where we had driven to from the mountains the day before! We saw the mountain village of Livaniana above us and the Lykos Beach below us. In addition there was a sign pointing us to Marmara Beach which was reassuring we would be able to hike there. We continued on to Lykos Beach where we found our trail.
Definitely Not Love at First Sight
I took one look at the cliff we had to climb to reach Marmara Beach and said, “No Way.” Steve was all in but made sure I knew it would be my call as he wasn’t going to talk me into it. There was a reason we saw so many goats in the area and no people. The climb looked very steep up the sharp rocks of the cliff. I looked up again and said, “Well maybe. It probably flattens out at top”. One last time I looked up again and told Steve, “Ok, let’s get this done.” I did insist on being first though as I rationalized if I fell maybe he would catch me?
A Very Challenging Hike to Marmara Beach
So, all in all, this hike/climb was pretty challenging. Up until now, the hike from Loutro to Marmara Beach was easy and just an easy walk through Crete. The cliff is made up of jagged rocks which looked as if steps had been carved out of them. I scampered up, without looking back until I reached what I thought was the top expecting it to flatten out. It wasn’t the top and it didn’t flatten out. Looking ahead did not look much better, although the climb wasn’t as steep, but I no longer saw an apparent path. My first instinct was to turn around but I thought going down the way I just came up would be worse, so off we went.
The path continued to be rocky and very challenging. There were red paint marks on the rocks and I just followed those hoping it was the path! We were pretty high up and continued to use the jagged rocks on the cliff as steps. We came to an area that looked like a cave so I sat and took a breath, wondering what I got myself into. On the other hand, I do love these types of hikes and looking around admired the view, this was really a beautiful hike.
Thinking we had been hiking for miles, I was shocked when I looked back and saw how close Lykos Beach was! Up we went again on the jagged steps for the last time. The path suddenly became smoother and right below us was Marmara Beach. We made it!
Marmara Beach was wonderful. First things first, we found a place to sit, then we went for a swim! The water was wonderful although a bit rough. We swam close to shore as did the few others that were there. Unfortunately the water was too rough to swim into the caves but we didn’t mind. We made it here and we love swimming in the sea! After our swim, Steve continued to explore the other side of the beach while I read a book. Marmara beach was typical of many beaches we have been to in Crete, although the hike from Loutro was one of the more challenging hikes.
Back to Loutro
After a couple of hours we caught a small boat back to Loutro. The water was quite rough for what we have experienced in Crete although we were grateful we did not have to hike back from Marmara Beach to Loutro! Once at Loutro, instead of exploring the village as we had planned, we had a dilemma. The ferry we had tickets for back to Sfakia had stopped running for the day because of the rough water. The dock was swarming with people trying to get on the last ferry of the day for which we didn’t have tickets.
At this point, we decided to prepare ourselves for the hike back to Loutro when Steve saw a sign for a water taxi. I called the number and the gentleman told me he had room if we were ready to go in 10 minutes. He said he would not wait. With much gratitude, we literally jumped on when he pulled up, as it was hard to keep the boat at the dock due to the turbulent water. I felt bad for all the people left on the dock although we heard later that another ferry came before dark and was able to get everyone back to Sfakia. The ride back was so rough but actually a lot of fun! We were soaked but so happy we were able to catch the water taxi and not have to walk the 4 miles back to our hotel!
Dinner at Platanos in Anopoli
Once back to Sfakia and after cleaning up, we were starving. We decided to take the serpentine road back up to Anopoli and eat at Platanos Taverna. As it was highly recommended we wanted to try it out. We were so glad we did. Platanos was amazing. The food was fantastic and the service as well. The restaurant grows and raises most of it’s own food.
We met the cook and owner, Eva, who told us even the cheese on the Greek Salad was made here, by her son. Her son also has bee hives and sold honey so we bought some to take back home. The food here was beyond amazing and the taverna was a perfect place for us to relax after our big day. Steve had Moussaka which was wonderful. I can’t remember the name of what I had but it was so good. Zucchini hollowed out and filled with sausage, mint, rice and covered with a delicious sauce with a hint of nutmeg. I have never had anything like this before and would love the recipe!! Complimentary dessert was homemade chocolate cake with homemade ice cream! Amazing. After dinner it was back down the curvy mountain road and time for bed! What a wonderful day!
All in all, this was a fantastic day, although it had a couple of snags I would do it again. We found out it was possible to hike from Loutro to Marmara Beach in Crete, but then again, we could have taken a boat! In all seriousness though, both of us love the challenge of this type of hike and it makes the destination so much more rewarding. We both love Crete and even though this area was new for us we really enjoyed it. There’s something about the remoteness and harshness of this area that makes it so beautiful.
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