East Crete Activities
Toplou is a 15th-century monastery located in the northeastern part of Crete, 10km east of Sitia and on the way to the beach of Vai. It is one of the most significant and historic monasteries in Crete. The monastery owns a great deal of land which produces excellent organic products such as wine, thyme honey, raki and olive oil. During the holiday season there are guided tours in the winemaking area, where you can taste the wines in combination with traditional cheese, olives and rusks with tomato. All the wines for taste are also for sale at the monastery. It is open to the public daily, from 09:00 - 18:00 hour. For more details about the Toplou Monastery, visit our Toplou section on this website.
Experience the real adventure and discover the magic of Cretan nature and its breathtaking landscapes through exclusive selected routes. Create long lasting memories when driving by the rivers and impressive gorges among the forests, be amazed by beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters and experience the charm of the traditional and picturesque villages. Feel the original Cretan nature and discover the sights and sounds of the country side, smelling the rare herbs, see the astonishing flowers and trees surrounded by the huge variety of the Cretan fauna. Treat your senses to the full taste of Crete when tasting local produced wines with exceptional aroma, freshly harvested honey and unique traditional food.
Daily cruises now from Makrigialos to paradise Island Koufonissi, located about 10 nautical miles southeast of Makrigialos. It’s uninhabited now, but full of ruins that indicate human activity from the Early Minoan times to post-Byzantine years. The locals like to call Koufonisi, as Delos of Crete, because of the significant antiquities that have been found. The island is surrounded by 36 amazing sandy beaches with fine golden sand and crystal turquoise waters, unknown to almost everybody. Some of them, like Asproulas, Hiliaderfia, Faros and Roman Theatre, would easily be ranked among the best on earth. Visit the southernmost ancient stone theatre in Europe, have a refreshing swim or just relax.
VAI PALM BEACH
Vai, or more specifically the palm forest of Vai, is one of the most popular sights in Crete and one of the most beautiful and special places in the whole of the Mediterranean. Vai draws a lot of visitors each year from all over Crete. They come not only for its wonderful palm forest, but also for the large sandy beach spread out at its foot. The beach is fully organised, with sun loungers, straw umbrellas and wooden walkways for easy access. At the side of the beach, near the steps to the viewing platform, is a good restaurant and a cafeteria with chairs and tables set out in a pretty, flat space among the palm trees.
VAI WATER SPORTS
You can also try water sports at Vai, including banana boat, jet-skiing and water bikes. If you feel like a walk, climb the steps at the side of the beach next to the panorama taverna. The steps will bring you to the viewing platform, which offers a panoramic view of the whole area and the beautiful palm forest of Vai. Here you can take wonderful pictures and see the small neighbouring beach, about 5 minutes walk north of Vai. Today the beach of Vai is considered one of the most beautiful parts of Crete and the beach has been awarded a Blue Flag by the European Union. The Panorama taverna is a great place to lunch.
Vai is one of the must East Crete Activities. Nowadays it covers an area of approximately 250,000 square metres, making it the largest palm forest in Europe. Scientists have proven that the Vai palm trees are an endemic species known as Phoenix Theophrasti, or Cretan Date Palm. The beach and palm forest of Vai is also fascinating for its biodiversity, as many migrating birds stop here on their voyage to and from Africa. Vai is located 24 km east of Sitia (30 minutes by car) and about 1 our drive from Makrigialos. You can leave your car in the car park behind the forest, which costs 2.50 Euros (2016 prices).
The tropical island of Chrissi or Gaidouronisi (donkey) is one of the 81 islands of Crete. It is located at the south coast of East Crete, about 8 nautical miles out of the coast from Ierepatra. The island is almost flat with colorful volcanic rocks covered in gold sand, purple shells and sand dunes that are surrounded by incredible crystal clear and shallow turquoise waters. From mid-May until late October there are small boats, departing from the ports of Ierapetra and Makrigialos, to the island on a daily basis. Chrissi is protected by the Natura 2000 Networking Program, as an "area of intense natural beauty", it also has been designated as a natural wildlife refuge. The island hosts the largest naturally formed Lebanon cedar forest in Europe.
Explore the timeless beauty of Crete and the Mediterranean from the sea. Discover unknown islands, tranquil coves and secret beaches and let us charter for you a trip on a unique and luxury motor yacht and you will have an unforgettable holiday! Enjoy a private lunch on a secluded bay at Chrissi island. The Nautilos (named after Captain Nemo's craft in '20,000 leagues under the sea' by French novelist Jules Verne) is a motor yacht, a 46 foot Sea Ray. It is the only luxury motor yacht of its kind available for hire in Crete and the southern Aegean. Michalis your skipper has over 20 years' experience skippering Greek Island cruises around Crete and the Aegean, and he is a bit of a polyglot: comfortable speaking Greek, English, German and Italian.
The haunted island of Spinalonga is located just off Elounda and Agios Nikolaos in the bay of Mirabello, north east of Crete and about a one hour drive from Makrigialos or Sitia. You can take a boat trip to Spinalonga on a daily basis. Spinalonga is a popular sightseeing choice for the history and stunning views you get from the top of the island. On many boat trips to the island you get the chance to jump off the boat at a secluded location and have a BBQ and relax on the beach. The island of Spinalonga used to be a leper colony until the early 1900’s and is a sad remainder of our past, and how we treated people who were different. The trips come in many languages also, usually German, Dutch, French and English.
The wonderful Lasithi Plateau, 900m above sea level, is a vast expanse of pear and apple orchards, almond trees and fields of crops, covering an area of over 100 square kilometres. In the Lasithi Plateau there are 18 picturesque villages built at the foothills of the surrounding mountains of Dikteo Andro, Selena and Afendis Christos. These villages are all connected by a circular road of approximately 25 kilometres in length. The plateau is famous for its windmills with white cloths, a trademark of the area, composing a beautiful scenery. These were water- and flour mills, made most by the Peloponnese settlers that arrived here in late 19th century, to irrigate the plateau. Unfortunately not many have been left out of the original 12.000 once build, but still you can see several windmills, since many of them have been restored in the last years. Another attraction of the plateau are the linear drainage projects that were built by the Venetians to transport water. When the Venetians conquered Crete, they turned Lasithi to the largest “garden” of Crete, which still supplies Crete with excellent quality potatoes and vegetables. Another very important attraction of Lasithi is the Dikteon Andro Cave which has played an important role in ancient times, due to a myth that put the birth of Zeus here.
Whether you want to learn to ride in Crete whilst on holiday, enjoy a beautiful family hack to the Lasithi plateau or ride along the coast and do cool things on horses safely, there are excellent opportunities helping you to achieve your equestrian goals on Crete. Horse riding with a professional guide and good horses will be a challenging experience and adventure. There are organised holidays offering an adventurous, guided or unguided trail taking you over the Dikti Mountains in the Lasithi plateau to the Libyan Sea in the south East of Crete. Enjoy the Panorama Rides, combined with a stay in a comfort hotel and ride every day out for a new beautiful day trip through the Lagada Valley. You can also prefer to combine the horse riding with relaxing or other activities and opt for the Sunny Rides. Even if you don't know any horse riding at all, there are offered starters courses in which you will learn beginners horse riding in a safe environment. In the equestrian centre you are also welcome for horse riding lessons, day trips or 2 hour horse rides. For everybody who wants to see the real Crete, experience the quiet and beautiful nature, see breathtaking views and you have a love for horses, then horse riding is a great experience you will not forget.
GOLF COURSE CRETE
The Crete Golf Club is a championship course and the first and only 18-hole Golf Course of international standards on Crete. Located in the centre of Crete, it is one the most impressive courses of the Mediterranean, designed in 2003 by the golf course architect Bob Hunt. It holds a unique challenge and a pleasant experience for both golf players and visitors all year round. This beautiful golf destination was extensively upgraded in August 2014 and reopened in October 2015, the golf course is more than ready to become the next hot European golfing destination. This was the first significant step towards the establishment of the entire island of Crete as an international golfing destination which translates into an expansion of the tourism season and a further contribution to the island’s economic growth. The Crete Golf Club has a mountain-style layout, combining the three key elements scenery, climate and facilities, the club is expected to prove irresistible to golfers. Its new and ultra-modern facilities are accompanied by the unrivalled beauty of the Mediterranean landscape. With perfect Cretan weather, golfing is done 365 days a year. Beyond the summer months, weather conditions during spring, autumn and winter are more than appropriate for.