The island of Crete has a rich 9,000 year history and is truly a melting pot of ancient cultures. We believe it is a must-visit destination for the open water swimmer and have partnered with local Cretan guides to source a unique swimming location that combines dramatic scenery, ancient ruins, beautiful local food and crystal clear water for swimming. If you’re planning on visiting Crete then we encourage you to find out more about this gorgeous Greek location in our spotlight below.
Crete is the largest island in Greece and is the 5th most densely populated region. With beaches that span over 160 miles, it is also the 5th biggest island in the Mediterranean, welcoming over 4 million tourists each year. The island is home to around 600,000 people, that’s 6% of Greece’s overall population, but you don’t have to worry about crowding as this island’s generous size more than accommodates locals and tourists alike.
There’s plenty of mythology surrounding the island of Crete but most notably, it is said that the Greek god Zeus was born high in the Cretan mountains. A fitting birthplace for the god of the skies and thunder. It is also said that the twin gods Apollo and Artemis were born in Crete and together, with Zeus, they protect the island. Crete is also linked to the story of the labyrinth that imprisoned both the terrifying minotaur and legendary figure Icarus who achieved flight by making wings of feathers and wax before flying too close to the sun and meeting an untimely end.
One of the most widely believed myths about Crete is that, in honour of his father, Hercules executed all the dangerous animals on the island. That is why you’ll never encounter any dangerous wildlife on a Big Blue Swim holiday to Crete; though you are likely to encounter plenty of goats and sheep since Crete is famous for being home to over 1,000,000 of the animals!
The beaches of Crete are some of the most beautiful places in the world. Crete ranks second place in the European Union’s Blue Flag beach awards, with around 112 of its beaches being awarded Blue Flag status. If that wasn’t amazing enough, Crete is also home to not one but two of the world’s rarest pink sand beaches. Pink sand beaches get their gorgeous colours from thousands of broken coral pieces, shells, and calcium carbonate materials left behind by tiny marine creatures that live in the coral reefs surrounding the beaches. The two pink sand beaches in Crete are Elafonissi, in the South-East, and Balos, located near Chania.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Big Blue Swim blog post if we didn’t talk about the water and we’ve truly saved the best Cretan feature until last. Crete is home to the deepest section of the Aegean Sea, reaching depths of more than 10,000 feet, and it has some of the clearest waters of the European continent. In fact, the waters of Crete are so clear that visitors can stand over 130 feet above sea level and take in pristine views of seascape below.
With so much history, so many award-winning beaches, and crystal clear waters, we hope we’ve inspired you to plan your next visit to Crete! Why not experience the island from a unique and experiential perspective on our idyllic seven day open water swimming tour? Find out more on our Crete page or book your open water swimming holiday HERE.
04 March 2020