Departure from Marina of Rethymno.
Marina of Rethymno is situated inside the town (coordinates: latitude f 35o 21’ 57’’ B and longitude: l 24o 28’ 23’’ A) At the marina of Rethymno there are the Two Dolphins, symbol of the town.
Rethymno – Kala Nera
1 Hour to go – Stay: 4 Hours
1 Hour Back
Rethymno – Kala Nera – Almyrida – Marathi
40 minutes to go Georgioupolis bay- stay: 1 hour
30 minutes to go Loutraki stay: 2 hours
10 minutes to go Marathi stay: 2 hours
1 hour back
Rethymno – Latzimas Caves – Bali
30 minutes to go Caves of Latzimas stay: 1 hour for swimming
30 minutes to go Bali stay: 4 hours
1 hour back
Rethymno – Menies – Balos – Gramvousa
2 hours to go Menies stay: 1 hour
1 hour to go Balos stay: 4 hours
5 minutes to go Gramvousa stay: 1 ½ hour
2 ½ hours back
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED DESTINATION:
Kala Nera: Kala Nera or Omprogialos is one of the nicest, best hidden angles of Crete. It is located on the rocky east coast of Cape Drapano and in the north of Georgioupoli.
You may come here for a dive in the crystal-clear, turquoise waters of the bay by the vessel Gazal. The only building that exists in the area is a tavern situated along the magnificent blue of the sea.
There is no beach. The whole coast is rocky and while reaching it by swimming you should be a bit careful if you want to get to the tavern. Alternatively, you could enjoy swimming and we may go on our journey with the vessel Gazal.
Loutraki: Loutraki is a closed bay between hills, surrounded by rocky coasts apart from the west side where there is a protective beach with crushed sand. The sandy beach of Loutraki has crystal-clear water and is very well organized as it provides all the necessary tourist facilities. It is highly esteemed by the locals. Here you may find a peaceful tavern as well as a big bar with loud music and quite a lot of young people.
Marathi: Marathi, which is orientated to the south, is peaceful and well protected from the winds in relation to the other north coasts of Crete. It hosts two beautiful beaches with crushed sand and shallow calm waters, ideal for children. They have a nice view of the White Mountains, and they are well organized with all the necessary amenities nearby.
Opposite Marathi, in a distance of 500m, there is a small island called Marathi or Palaia Souda (Paleosouda), which you can visit. On the island there is a small pine forest, while its western coast is steep and popular with lovers of scuba diving.
The western part of the beach of Marathi, where there are large pebbles, is called Sosorides. The beach is particularly popular with the locals seeking less crowded, calm places with no fuss.
Almyrida: Almyrida is a quiet resort, with good facilities and superb sea. The unspoiled countryside and the lush olive groves around Almyrida are ideal locations for walking.
Almyrida, which has been characterized as a region of infinite beauty since 1977, has two nice sandy beaches, with shallow water, safe for the children. The two beaches are separated by a small rocky peninsula. They are very well organized and famous for water sports. Also, they are popular with those who love windsurfing. On the beach there are several taverns famous for fresh fish and delicious traditional food.
Latzimas caves: Kamara of Geropotamos or else, Latzimas, is 16 km to the east of Rethymno city and some meters to the west of the Geropotamos beach in Rethymno prefecture. Latzimas is a beach with sand, tiny pebbles and clear blue waters.
The astonishing natural arch that is formed on the west side of the beach of Latzimas along with steep cliffs keep this beach away from crowds, since it can be accessed only by swimming from the nearest beaches.
Bali: Bali is a seaside village on the northern coastline of Crete in the prefecture of Rethymno, located approximately 35 km far from the city of Rethymno.
Built on the raised land of a small peninsula, where the giant Talos was once worshiped, the village of Bali has two bays on its west side, which provide safe anchorage almost during every season.
The settlement of Bali was established during the Ottoman rule and the Turkish word balik, meaning fish, was the origin of the name of the village. The village is considered to have been constructed on a site that used to be the ancient Astali, the port of the Ancient Axos settlement, used for unloading supplies during the numerous revolutions.
The history of the village of Bali almost exceeds one century. From a fishing village it has been turned into an important tourist resort of the South, offering all kind of services.
The village of Bali is considered an ideal destination for summer holidays because of its numerous beaches with crystal- clear water and rich seabed.
Menies or Diktynna is located 45km northwest of Chania, on the northeastern shores of Cape Rodopos and at the exit of Foundas Gorge. It is a wonderful secluded beach with pebbles and deep crystal blue waters. It is not affected by the usual winds blowing in the area and it is ideal for isolation, far away from the urban centers. In a distance of many kilometers there are absolutely no facilities.
Along the sea cliffs, between Menies and Afrata, we meet several small bays formed at the exit of small streams accessible mainly by boat.
Also, about 1km southwest of the coast, you can visit the very old monastery of St. George. It was built in the 9th century but it was abandoned due to continuous invasions by pirates. In the courtyard of the monastery there is a fortified tower, used for warning of the arrival of enemy or pirate ships.
Balos: The famous lagoon of Balos is a shallow , sandy beach formed between the Cape Gramvousa and the small Cape Tigani , below the mountain range of Platiskinos. Balos is surely the beach that has been photographed the most in Crete, a favorite subject of all tourist guides of Greece. It is no coincidence that Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited Balos with their private yacht many years ago.
Balos is famous for its turquoise waters, its wild natural beauty and the beautiful exotic scenery. During the summer, Balos is visited by thousands of people. It would be ideal to arrive at Balos in the morning. These few hours of remoteness in such a heavenly place will remain etched on your memory forever.
The lagoon of Balos has white sand and exotic white, vivid blue and turquoise waters. The sea is very shallow and warm, ideal for young children. In many places the sand has a lovely pinkish color, because of millions of crushed shells. Beyond the rocks at the boundaries of the lagoon, the water is deeper and colder, ideal for snorkeling. The lagoon and the wider area, with rare species of flora and fauna, are protected by the Natura 2000 program.
The best and most convenient way to visit Balos is by the sea with the vessel Gazal. You’ll have the chance to see the wild shores of Gramvousa and the marks left from their lifting up to 6-9m after a strong earthquake in 365AD. Also, you may swim in the exotic beach of Imeri Gramvousa islet, where you will see the old fortress and the wrecked ship. If you are lucky, you might be accompanied by dolphins during your journey.
Gramvousa: The two uninhabited islets of Gramvousa, the Agria and Imeri Gramvousa, are located 2 miles northwest of the famous lagoon of Balos. Imeri Gramvousa is famous for its historical Venetian fortress, which still stands at a height of 137m, over the beach. The fortress had also been used by pirates. One legend says that there is a great treasure buried on the island. Also, the hulk of a wrecked ship that was abandoned many years ago near the beach has become a characteristic part of the landscape.
On the south side of the island there are two large bays, with the wreck being between them. We disembark from the vessel Gazal on the west bay, below the castle.
Apart from wandering around the area and visiting the castle and the wreck, you could also swim in the crystal-clear waters of the western cove. The beach with the fantastic turquoise color has white sand and rocks in places. Next to the beach there are some trees offering natural shade. The seabed of the area is ideal for snorkeling. Near the beach there is also the small chapel of Saint Apostles. No other amenities are offered in the area as it is protected by Natura 2000 program.
The history of Imeri Gramvousa and the Castle
Gramvousa in ancient times was called Koryko, while the name “Gramvousa’ comes from the Venetian word Garabuse.
The remains of a Venetian castle on Imeri Gramvousa, built in 1579-84, at a height of 137 meters above the natural harbor of the island, remind us of its past glory. The position of the castle was strategic, since it protected the entire northeastern Crete. Its size still impresses everyone – it has a triangular shape, with each side exceeding one kilometer.
The rusty ship wreck located near the port of Gramvousa, has become the area’s landmark and consists part of its history. Many visitors wonder what the story of the shipwreck is, which is described in detail here:
It is about a ship named Motorship Dimitrios P, with a length of 146 feet. The ship sailed on December 30, 1967 from Chalkida (close to Athens), carrying 440 tons of cement and destined for North Africa. Due to bad weather conditions, it was forced to drop anchor in the bay Diakofti of Kythira. On January 6, it sailed to its destination, but again it encountered bad weather and was forced to change its route towards the west coast of Crete. It anchored on the south side of Imeri Gramvousa, about 200m away from the coast, by dropping both of its anchors.
On January 8, 1968 at 13.15, the left anchor chain broke and the captain tried to keep the boat by using its machine, but he did not succeed in doing so. The vessel ran aground on the left side and the engine room was flooded with water.
The commander ordered the abandonment of the vessel and the crew remained on Imeri Gramvousa until January 10 due to bad weather. Finally, they were rescued by the destroyer Ierax, which was stationed in Souda. The ship remains there until today, being now an integral part of the landscape.