The first time I passed Geropotamos beach I had one of those, “Did I just see that?” moments. As we drove past on the highway bridge just inland, I thought I saw a river running alongside a broad sweep of golden sand. In the distance, completing the perfect scene, was a beautiful rock arch at the end of a line of cliffs.
So where was this place? It looked like one of the best beaches in Crete, yet none of the guidebooks in nearby Rethymno seemed to mention it. I couldn’t understand it – one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete and hardly a word about it.
Over the course of our Crete holidays, we’ve come to discover other spectacular beaches near Rethymnon which have a similarly low profile. So what is the story behind Geropotamos, one of the finest Crete beaches?
Only one way to find out!
GEROPOTAMOS BEACH IN A NUTSHELL
- Incomparable setting, even among beaches in Crete, with a river on one side and a rock arch on the other
- Easy to reach, very close to Crete’s main highway
- Very spacious sandy beach with a small area of umbrellas and sunbeds
- A taverna, cocktail bar and toilets are next to the beach
- It’s exposed to the northern meltemi wind, so large waves can form
- Very clear, clean water for swimming – but it also gets deep very close to the shore, so not ideal for kids
- Next door to the Iberostar Creta Panorama and Creta Marine hotel complex
WHERE IS GEROPOTAMOS, CRETE?
Geropotamos gets its name from the river which flows alongside the beach. It’s located just below the Geropotamos bridge, which is part of the main Heraklion-Rethymno-Chania highway which runs across the north of Crete island.
It’s 4 km (2.5 miles) west of the popular village of Panormos (sometimes called Panormo) and 12 miles (19 km) from Rethymno, one of the best places in Crete to use as a base for exploring the island. It’s easy to fit Geropotamos in as a day trip combined with Arkadi Monastery, up in the hills 15 km away.
GETTING TO GEROPOTAMOS BEACH
It’s easy to reach the beach at Geropotamos by car or local bus.
If you’re driving, you can get to the beach by turning off at the western end of the bridge. If you’re approaching from Chania or Rethymno, it’s a right-hand turn; if you’re coming from Heraklion, it’s on your left. After 100 metres or so, take a sharp left down the dirt road to the car park the other side of the bridge.
Regular KTEL buses run along the highway – you just need to ask to get off at Geropotamos. The busy #20 Rethymno to Panormos bus and regular Chania-Rethymno-Heraklion (and vice versa) buses will stop at the end of the bridge if requested.
FACILITIES AT THE BEACH
Only a small part of the beach is set up with umbrellas and sunbeds – this is behind the boat, quite close to the shore. Most of the beach is empty – even in summer, with a calm sea. If you love having acres of beach to yourself, this is paradise.
There’s also a taverna just above the beach serving the Greek classics – souvlaki, gyros and the rest.
SWIMMING AT GEROPOTAMOS BEACH
The water is incredibly clear and inviting, and wonderful to swim in. The one caveat is that there is a significant slope in the sand soon after you enter the water, so you don’t need to go very far for it to be up to your neck.
With this in mind, it’s not a great place to take the kids swimming.
CAN YOU GET TO THE KAMARA ROCK ARCH?
You can’t reach it along the beach, but getting a photo of it from above is straightforward. A dirt track runs alongside the main highway, so if you walk back up you’ll find that, and a small car park on unoccupied ground between the road and the cliffs.
You won’t think it until you reach the cliff edge, but this is one of the best places in Crete for photography. The Kamara arch is breathtaking. When you get up close, you’ll see that there’s also a small beach very close to it. I also saw people going close to it on boats and jetskis. It’s so ironic – off the beaten path Crete, right next to the main highway!
If you follow the dirt track next to the road you’ll also reach the turn-off for Spilies beach.
WHERE TO STAY IN CRETE TO VISIT GEROPOTAMOS?
Geropotamos is within easy reach of Rethymno, the surrounding resorts, Panormos, Bali and Heraklion because it’s on the main road.
One of the biggest Crete resorts is also right next door to the beach. The Iberostar Creta Panorama and Creta Marine complex is one of the largest Crete hotels in the area. They have beautiful luxury villas with lovely gardens, two sheltered artificial coves and their own harbour, from which they run boat trips along the coast. They also have a KTEL bus stop outside the Creta Marine.
Panormos Crete is only 3 km (2 miles) further on from here. It’s a small charming fishing village with beaches and tavernas, and a good range of accommodation. The Panormo Beach is a lovely 3-star hotel in the heart of the village, and very close to the sea.
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.