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15 Best Hersonissos Beaches in Crete

This is my guide to the best Hersonissos beaches, covering every strip of sand and pebble in this hugely popular Crete beach town.

I’ve walked every inch of the Hersonissos coastline in search of my family’s next beach fix. And they had plenty of these after I found the best places for them to go.

My Hersonissos beaches guide covers everywhere in the town. This includes from the Lychnostatis Museum on the eastern edge of town to the Sarandaris Cape beach to the north. It also includes the many popular Hersonissos beach resorts.

I advise what you can expect at each, including sunbed and umbrella beach packages, as well as sand or pebbles, swimming conditions and more. I’ve also included a map of the beaches in Hersonissos to help you find your way around. I hope you have as much fun as we did visiting them.

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Hersonissos Beaches: Why Visit

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One of the coves at Star Beach in Hersonissos
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Hersonissos Beach

Along with near-neighbour Malia, Hersonissos is the party capital of Crete – and it became popular in the first place because of its beaches.

Hersonissos is popular with families because of its range of beaches. They vary from full-blown beach resorts to gorgeous secluded coves with crystal-clear water.

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Some of the best Hersonissos beaches are just to the north of the town

The best beaches in Hersonissos, to the north of the town, are a revelation, scenic stunners in ideal sheltered conditions.

At the other end of the scale, if you want all-inclusive where you can relax all day, there are also plenty of Hersonissos beaches for you.

Hersonissos Beach Names

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Sarantari Beach
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Iliostasi Beach
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Some Hersonissos beaches don’t even have a name

Many Hersonissos beaches are named after the resorts to which they are close, or by whom they are operated.

These include obvious examples like Star Beach, one of the largest Hersonissos resorts, or King Scorpio Beach, named after the restaurant running it.

The small coves beyond the Creta Maris resort are collectively known as the Hersonissos Coves or Limanakia Hersonissou.

North of the coves, Sarantari Beach is sometimes also called Saradari, Saradaris, Sarandaris or Sarantaris Beach. We have gone with the most popular version, Sarantari.

Hersonissos Beaches – Town and Port Areas

The beaches around the town and Hersonissos port areas are narrow and sandy. Most tend to be packed with sunbeds and umbrellas, and you can expect to pay €10 for a package of two beds and an umbrella.

Hersonissos Beach

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Hersonissos Beach, on the harbour waterfront
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Hersonissos Beach at sunset

Hersonissos Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the town, on the harbour strip of restaurants.

It’s a pleasant narrow sandy beach, seemingly jam-packed throughout sunlight hours. Almost every square inch of the beach is taken up with sunbeds and umbrellas.

Hersonissos Beach is ideal if you want to stick to the town area or you don’t feel like a long walk after a big night out. The bar is very close by in case you need a drink.  

Star Beach Hersonissos

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One of several coves that make up the Star Beach resort
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Star Beach is home to one of the prettiest Hersonissos beaches
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The Star Beach sign in Hersonissos
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The chapel of St Nicholas is next to the Star Beach complex
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The main Hotel building at Star Beach Resort

Star Beach is a series of beaches which are part of the sprawling resort of the same name.

The resort covers a few hundred metres of Hersonissos coastline, with a couple of exquisite sandy coves. There is also a larger beach with a crane from which those so inclined (not us!) can bungee jump.

Star Beach also has a large water park with pools and a pirate ship ideal for younger kids. There are also long water slides for those hoping for a bigger splash.

You’ll also notice the small whitewashed church of St Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos) on the headland. It’s built next to the ruins of a 6th century basilica, and at the time of writing is fenced off. A pity, as it’s a beautiful landmark.

Hersonissos Golden Beach

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Golden Beach or Chrysi Ammos – our pick of the Hersonissos beaches close to the town
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And the view the other way

Golden Beach – Chrysi Ammos – is one of the better Hersonissos beaches. It’s a fine swathe of golden sand on the eastern side of town. It’s also a little more spacious than the other beaches in Hersonissos town area.

Ammos Beach

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Sunset at Ammos Beach in Hersonissos

It’s rather difficult to pin a name onto this beach – surprising as it’s close to the Roman port, headland and busy ‘strip’ of bars and restaurants. My local sources weren’t sure of its name either, but when I came back with ‘Ammos’ – which means ‘sands’ – they nodded in recognition.

Like most other Hersonissos beaches it’s small, sandy and narrow, and mostly packed with sunbeds and umbrellas.  It’s on Navarchou Nearchou, and spans the distance between the historic harbour area and Creta Maris Hotel 200 metres or so away.  It’s also a great summer sunset spot.

King Scorpio Beaches

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King Scorpio Beach
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Four poster beds by the seashore – King Scorpio Beach
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The hidden cove next to King Scorpio Beach

These two sandy coves just along the road from Sun Bay Beach are attached to the restaurant of the same name.

The larger of the two coves has sumptuous four-poster sunbeds with curtains right on the shore.

There is also a tiny rocky cove (pictured) just beyond the larger beach where there is shelter and shade beneath the natural rock arch.

Sun Bay Beach

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Pebbly, picturesque Sun Bay beach
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Another view of Sun Bay Beach

This small pebble and rock beach is just below the Hotel of the same name, reached by a flight of stairs from the road above. It has been quiet whenever I have passed (several times), but it’s a gorgeous spot with stunning clear water. Water shoes are a necessity for this one.

Glaros Beach (Veranda Beach)

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Glaros Beach – sunbathe sardine-style
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Tables by the shore: Cretan Blue Restaurant

This is one of the busiest Hersonissos beaches, every square inch of sand packed with umbrellas and sunbeds. The name of the beach isn’t immediately apparent, but some of my local contacts advise me it’s called Glaros Beach, after the nearby Hotel.

The Med Café is at one end, Karavi restaurant at the other, with the Veranda Café across the street.

Just along from there, the Cretan Blue Restaurant has an outstanding setting. Several of its tables are set along the shoreline, right next to the crystal-clear water and rocky sea bed.

Hersonissos Harbour Beach

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The small harbour beach below the New York Beach Club

This hidden harbour beach is my least favourite beach in Hersonissos. It’s behind and below the New York Beach Club, and is a bit forlorn and grotty.  There are far better Hersonissos beaches a short walk away in either direction.

Hersonissos Beaches – North To Cape Sarandaris

This series of beaches and coves begins north of the Creta Maris Resort, and continues the two miles or so to Cape Sarandaris.  For us, there was no contest: this is where you’ll find the best beaches in Hersonissos. You may even be able to find al tiny cove all for yourself if you arrive early or late in the day.

No buses run along the coast road here, so you need to walk, drive or take a taxi. Hersonissos Taxis and other local operators charge a flat rate of €8, which may well encourage you to walk instead!

Gefyri Beach

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Gefyri Beach
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Gefyri Beach looking towards Hersonissos

Gefyri Beach is easily one of the best Hersonissos beaches, and one we returned to several times.  It starts out as a couple of small scenic coves at its southern end, with some beautiful rock formations.  The main part of the beach is below a cliff with a mural built into it to support the road above.

The turquoise water is gorgeous and the sand grains are quite large, having a texture similar to rice. There are a few rocks in the sea level with the mural, and our family fish Faye suggests water shoes may be a good idea in this part of the beach.

There’s also a great little café across the road from the beach.

Hersonissos Coves

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Hersdonissos Coves

This series of coves north of the Creta Maris Resort is a joy to visit. They stretch for several hundred metres to Gefyri Beach.  Many of them are free to explore, and you can just pop down to them and have them all to yourself. If you visit, during the late afternoon or evening, they even provide some natural shade.

Known as Limanakia Hersonissos or Limanaki Hersonissou in Greek, they couldn’t be more different from the some of the sardine-packed beaches around the centre of Hersonissos.

Many of these coves don’t even have names. They’re just there, little pockets of paradise waiting to be discovered. A couple of them have umbrellas and sunbeds but you can claim the others for yourself for the day.

Ha Beach Hersonissos

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Ha Beach in Hersonissos

This intimate little beach is a minute’s walk from the edge of the Creta Maris Resort. It’s one of the few developed coves along this stretch. It’s not named on any maps but as the image above shows, they have everything set up there very nicely.

It’s a pleasant sandy little cove, with great views down the coast towards Malia and the mountains.  

Sarantari Beach

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Sarantari Beach

Sarantari Beach is a wonderful spot that wins my personal Hersonissos Best Beach award. It’s a pristine sand and pebble beach, sheltered by the headland from the north-westerly winds that bring waves to other Hersonissos beaches.

It’s a short walk to the north of Gefyri Beach, its almost-ochre cliffs contrasting with the bright, clear turquoise water that gently laps the shore. It’s ideal for families, kids and lovers of scenery.

There is also a small, secluded Hersonissos naturist beach just out of sight of Sarantari Beach. It’s more of a rock platform than a beach, but the boulders around there offer privacy for those wishing to enjoy the seaside nude.

Sarandaris Cape Beach

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Sarandaris Cape Beach
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Crystal-clear water below Cape Sarandaris

This is another gorgeous beach, distinguished from its neighbour by its bright white cliffs. It’s a 10-minute walk from Sarantari Beach, and a beauty with pebbles and sand and more amazing clear water.

This beach also commands superb views back along the coves of Hersonissos towards the town and mountains behind.

There is also a section of paved shoreline worth visiting just below Cape Sarandaris headland. The clear water there is magnificent, ideal for snorkelling and also popular with paddleboarders.  There is also a beautiful church on the headland, which isn’t open often.

If you’re thinking about heading out on a Hersonissos sunset cruise, the boats tend to moor in this area for a while before moving around the headland to the open sea to watch the sunset.     

Hersonissos Beaches – East Of The Town

Alekos Garden Beach

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Alekos Garden Beach
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Alekos Garden Beach

This beach, just west of Iliostasi, is one of the smaller beaches in Hersonissos, a sandy cove with all the usual beach services. The beach is named after the bar and restaurant just behind which runs the show.   

Iliostasi Beach

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Iliostasi Beach

This is one of the few relatively quiet beaches in Hersonissos, a couple of small coves just behind the excellent Lychnostatis Open Air Museum. There is a rocky cove and a sand and pebble cove next door. It’s a great spot to while away an hour or two after a visit to the Museum, and they also sell Cretan craft beer.

Abaton Resort Beach

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Abaton Resort

The headland around Drapanos has the easternmost Hersonissos beaches, including these small sandy coves in the 5-star Abaton Resort.

I didn’t spend much time here, but if you’re a guest the service is top notch, with waiters bringing you drinks to your sunbed.

Where Is Hersonissos Crete?

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Hersonissos: 27 km to Heraklion, 2709 km to London

Hersonissos is 27 km (17 miles) east of Heraklion, the capital of Crete.

It’s also 6 km (4 miles) west of Malia, a similarly busy beach town just along the coast.

Places To Visit and things to do In Hersonissos And Around

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Piskopiano village near Hersonissos
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Hydrangeas and a hand-painted cart outside a restaurant in Malia Old Town

Everyone comes to Hersonissos for its beaches – and whatever else you do depends on your age. Visitors in their late teens and early twenties are there to party. And families will want to relax and perhaps visit some of the local Crete attractions.

For kids, we heartily recommend the Aquaworld Crete Aquarium and Reptile Centre. Our son loved the homespun, homely feel of the place, as well as his encounters with various fish and octopus. He also greatly enjoyed holding the bearded dragon, one of the rescued reptiles in the garden area outside. He also preferred it to the much larger CretAquarium ten miles along the coast in Gournes.

Dinosauria Park, also in Gournes, is another hit with kids. We got to see a great selection of dinosaur figures from across the 185 million years that they roamed the earth. And we also got to visit a dinosaur hospital, seeing how they may have been cared for.

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The eastern, calmer side of Potamos Beach
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The famous amphora on Potamos Beach

Malia is a short bus ride in the other direction, just 4 miles (6 km) from Hersonissos. We also stayed in the town for a while, exploring the Malia beaches including the superb Potamos Beach to the east of the town.  

Malia Old Town, just across the road from the bars and clubs, is very different, a traditional village with some great atmospheric restaurants. There are three similar villages close to Hersonissos – Old Hersonissos, Piskopiano and Koutouloufari – on the hill above the modern seaside town.

The fishing village of Sissi Crete also offers something very different. It’s a wonderful place to unwind, whether for a day trip or full holiday. The pace of life is as slow as it gets – Relax, Restaurant, Rest, Repeat sums it up nicely.

Hersonissos Beaches – Wrapping it up

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Most people visit Hersonissos for its beaches, and they tend to opt for the beaches closer to the town. The majority of these are fine, with all the services you could want, including a bed, shade and beautiful clear water to swim in. There just isn’t much space at many of them.

We preferred the Hersonissos coves, Gefyri Beach and Sarantari Beach, and spent more of our time at these. There’s a wilder, more romantic feel to them, and they’re more scenic than the Hersonissos town beaches. They’re also more sheltered than the beaches in Hersonissos centre, perfect for a day out with the family.

If you’d like a day away from the beach, there are plenty of things to do in Heraklion, the fascinating capital of Crete. It’s home to the ancient Minoan Knossos palace complex and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of the best museums in Europe, indeed the world.

And check out my guide to Spinalonga Island, one of the most popular day tour destinations in Crete. It’s just over an hour away from Hersonissos, and one of the most intriguing places to visit on Crete.

Explore more of Crete:

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David Angel is a British photographer, writer and historian. He is a European travel expert with over 30 years’ experience exploring Europe. He has a degree in History from Manchester University, and his work is regularly featured in global media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, The Times, and The Sunday Times.  David is fluent in French and Welsh, and can also converse in Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech and Polish.