Off the beaten path on the East coast, Xerokampos beach Crete is worth the detour: a gorgeous sand strip with mountains and clear water... and almost nobody around! Plus the drive to get there is stunning. Below is my guide to help you plan your visit.
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Why visit Xerokampos Beach in Crete?
I was surprised but ecstatic to discover that Xerokampos is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, and yet it is not developed at all: just a few builds here and there but a raw beauty.
There are 3 main reasons to visit the gorgeous area, and make the detour:
- The drive down to the beach when coming from the South coast offers splendid views of the mountains and the coast
- The beach has fine sand and turquoise water
- The gorge is as fascinating as the other gorges in Crete
I love dry landscapes and this one is beautiful. The colors and shapes in the rocks was so fascinating that I was trying to stop at every turn.
Planning Tips - Xerokampos Crete
How to get to Xerokampos - Location
- Located on the East Coast, south end
- It is a long detour on mountain roads, wherever you come from. However the road are is quite good condition
- Malia to Xerokampos - 2h30 drive
- Ierapetra to Xerokampos - 1h30 drive
This beach, with its GPS coordinates, is included in my eBook:
- 5 easy-to-plan Maps
- 60+ Scenic locations for your itinerary
- 16+ extra photo stops and places to see
- Planning info to make the most of your time
- GPS coordinates for peace of mind
- 150+ original photos to help you select where to go
Where to stay in Xerokampos - Accommodations
As I said there are not many buildings in Xerokampos but most of them are accommodations (no big resorts, mostly rentals).
- The Akti rooms (photo below) are located just in front of the beach - see more photos and availabilities
- Of higher up with open views, you can find the Natica Mare Villas with a gorgeous terrace - Check out the photos and availabilities
- And if you want a building with a lot of character, get a little further away from the beach to find the Lithos Traditional Guest Houses - Check out the photos and availabilities
- Or check the short list of accommodations in Xerokampos
The best drive in Crete - arriving from the South-West
I must admit that te drive from the South coast to Xerokampos was my favorite of all my road trip in Crete (see my article to help plan yours). It is saying a lot because Crete is very scenic between mountains and beaches.
There are hardly any trees and vegetation on the way down to the beach so you always have unobstructed views. The rocks are beautifully shaped and the colors are mesmerizing.
There are a lot of turns (but wide enough, so if you slow down, it is quite easy). Sometimes you can stop. There is one main stop area with a bench installed for you to enjoy the views. Not a bad place for a break (except for the harsh sun...)
As you can see there are small islets in the bay. Those on the photo below are the Kavalli islands on the North end of the beach.
Don't worry, the road is in excellent condition as you can see in the picture below. And there is hardly anyone on the road, so it is very easy.
When you are not looking at the sea, you can admire the mountains and rock formations. And when you head North, you get a glimpse of the gorge.
And as you approach the village, you get a better view of the Xerokampos gorge with its towering cliffs.
The village of Xerokampos is not very big. It stretches along the coast and along the several beaches. Not much has been built.
I think it is due to the lack of water and farming land...
There is not real center, no petrol station (you must head to Zakros).
All buildings are small scale which is very nice. No big parties, just a peaceful unspoiled place.
You can find a few taverns and a minimarket. They are mostly on the Northern part of the settlement.
Xerokampos Beach Crete
Xerokampos has several beaches. The longest one, South of cape Trahilos is Xerokampos beach facing the Kavailli island.
I love the combination of turquoise water, fine sand, pink rock formations and the mountains in the background.
You can find other beaches on the other side of the cape: Gerontolakos beach, Vourlia beach (next to taverns), Argilos beach...
Xerokampos Gorge (Lamnoni)
There are 2 beautiful gorges around Xerokampos.
At the south end is the Xerokampos gorge, officially names Lamnoni.
You will drive past the entrance sign, you can't miss it.
You are at the bottom of the gorge. So it is easy to stop and go for a walk for as long as you want.
As you can see it is a very dry canyon with towering cliffs on both sides. It is a typical Cretan landscape. If you walk downstream, a lot of the time you can see the blue of the Lybian sea aligned with the canyon.
If someone is volunteering in your group, you can have him/her drop you off at the top (gravel road), and you can do the whole walk down (around 2h from what I read).
However note that there is absolutely no shade in the gorge. So it is not recommended to walk it during the day in Summer.
And as you drive via the North road, towards Zakros, you will drive along the Katsounaki gorge.
This time you are at the top of the gorge, so be really careful if you are stopping to admire the canyon. There are no protection. Don't get too close to the edge!
There are actually 3 gorges merging into one. You can enjoy really wonderful views from the side of the road.
If you want to walk inside it, it is possible. The canyon ends at the beach of Potamos, at the North end of Xerokampos village.
Below are a few photos taken from the side of the road:
Things to do around Xerokampos
The best things to do in Xerokampos is to appreciate the untouched nature. It is a wild part of Crete and I hope it stays that way.
Ghost village of Etia
If you drive from Ierapetra, before the magnificent drive down the coast that I described earlier, you go through a plateau with olive trees and beautiful landscapes.
One of the early stops you can enjoy is at Etia.
It is a ghost village by the side of the road.
When I visited, I was alone in the streets except for birds and a dog. Creepy.
The village includes a church, old houses and a Venetian Villa .
Zakros - Gorge + Ruins + Beach
Zakros is a more well known settlement on the East coast of Crete.
It is a 20min drive from Xerokampos.
Zakros offers beautiful landscapes, the famous Valley of the Dead canyon (which you can walk), a Minoan archeological site, a beach and taverns.
See my guide to Zakros
Want to see more of CRETE?
Would you take the detour to see it?
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