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The 8 Best Malia beaches to visit in Crete

Are you looking for the best beaches in Malia ? This is my complete guide to all Malia beaches, from the popular party haunts to the fantastic family beaches on the edge of town.

In this beaches in Malia guide I cover the strip of coast from Stalis beach to Potamos beach, with all the beaches in Malia town in between.

I describe each beach in detail, with everything you need to know from sunbed costs to swimming conditions. I also advise on suitability of beaches for kids where necessary.

And I also provide information on getting to each beach – or section of beach – in Malia.

We enjoyed a great few weeks visiting all these Malia beaches, and hope this guide helps you get the best out of them too.

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Why Visit The Malia Beaches

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Sunset on Malia Beach
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A giant sandcastle on Malia Beach
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Pyrgos Beach and Afentos Christi church and island

The beaches in Malia – on the northern coast of the island – are among the most popular beaches in Crete.

Along with nearby Hersonissos, Malia attracts a big party crowd in the summer months.

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Faye and Our Little Man swimming at Potamos Beach

The Malia beaches are also popular among families from across Europe, with one long sandy main beach and several smaller ones.

Potamos Beach and Stalis Beach – at opposite ends of Malia town – are brilliant beaches for families, with shallow areas ideal for paddling for small kids.

Malia Beaches – Names Explained

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Aeolos Beach Restaurant on Malia Beach
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Malia Beach and its many sunbeds
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Alexander Beach Malia sunset Crete

As with the nearby Hersonissos beaches, several Malia beaches – and sections of the main Malia beach – are named after the hotels and bars that run them.

You sometimes see signs for places like ‘Sirens Beach’ – this just applies to the section of Malia Beach next to the bar operating it.

I also read about Klotzani Beach or Glozanie Beach in Malia before visiting. And while staying a few weeks in Malia I never saw or heard a single reference to it. It is supposed to be the section of beach facing the church on the island of Afentos Christos just offshore. And on maps you sometimes see references to Bikini Beach Malia in the same area.

So to keep things simple I just call the whole thing Malia Beach!  

Malia Beach

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Signs on Malia Beach

Malia Beach – Paralia Malia or Paralia Mallion – is the main beach in Malia, stretching around 2 miles along the Malia Bay seafront. The modern town of Malia grew up around it, and if you come for a Malia holiday, you’ll most likely be visiting it at least a couple of times.

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Malia Beach at sunset
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Jetskis for hire on Malia Beach

It’s one of the most famous party beaches in Greece, a long narrow strip crammed with sunbeds and umbrellas available in packages, usually around €10 for two sunbeds and an umbrella. These are operated by around ten different bars and hotels.

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A fantastic sandcastle on Malia Beach

The beach etiquette is that if you can’t find someone with a wallet, take a set of sunbeds and someone will soon come to you. You then pay the fee. On Malia Beach you can then go back and forth to the bar for refreshments or food.

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Sunbeds galore on Malia Beach

As for which part of Malia Beach to head for, it depends on the services and facilities you want. If you want to go jet-skiing, there are watersports areas on either side of the beach where you can hire equipment. Most bars deal in the standard beds and umbrella package, then whatever you want to eat and drink on top.

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Malia Beach is very easy to reach

Getting there: You can walk down the ‘Malia strip’ – Dimokratias – where you’ll find many of the Malia clubs, pubs and restaurants. At the end you reach the Dessole Mare Hotel and the adjacent Thalassa restaurant , and face the Afentos Christos island and chapel. From here you can wander along the beach in either direction.

Alternatively you can approach the beach via the bars and hotels operating sections of the beach. The beach area to the west – including Aeolos Beach, Thea Star Beach and Ammos Beach – can be reached via Grammatikaki and then side roads leading to the respective bars.  

You can reach the eastern sections of Malia Beach – which include High Beach Malia, Dolphin Beach Malia and Sirens Beach – via Afenti Christou or Amiroulaki.

Note that buses don’t run to Malia Beach. They stop in the town, from where you have to walk.

Beaches West Of Malia Beach

Kernos Beach Malia

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Kernos Beach is one of the western Malia beaches
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Luxury sunbeds on Kernos Beach

Kernos Beach is around a mile west of the centre of Malia, and shares the beach and name with the neighbouring Ikaros Beach.

There is a small break in the sand but you can follow the coastline from the main Malia Beach along a path. Kernos Beach is wider and more spacious than the busy Malia Beach, and worth the short walk from the town centre. Guests at Kernos Beach Hotel get to use the sunbeds and umbrellas as part of the package. Non-guests can pay the usual fee and use the beds and facilities.

Ikaros Beach Malia

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Ikaros Beach
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Sunset at Ikaros Beach

Ikaros Beach is the continuation of Kernos Beach. Hotel Ikaros Malia is built on a headland, another small natural break in the stretch of sand along Malia Bay.

This section of Malia beaches is the most picturesque for me.  The Hotel is surrounded by a grove of palm trees, which make a fantastic backdrop for sunsets late in the day. The Ikaros Beach section is also more spacious than the busy parts of Malia beach near the town centre.

There is also a restaurant in a great location looking along the Malia coast, and it’s in a quieter part of town, away from the party noise at night.

Alexander Beach Malia

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Sunset behind the jetty at Alexander Beach Malia
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Alexander Beach is one of the most spacious Malia beaches
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Another view of Alexander Beach in Malia

Malia Alexander Beach is the last beach in Malia proper, again named after the resort which operates it. It’s a fine beach with deep, soft sand, watersports rental and a jetty which is a great spot to watch those legendary Crete sunsets.

Beyond Alexander Beach, Malia imperceptibly merges into Stalis and the westernmost of our Malia beaches.

Malia Beaches – Top Tip

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Perfect beach conditions at Stalis Beach with low waves

Malia Bay is a wide-open bay on a fairly straight stretch of coast, and is exposed to the prevailing north-westerly winds.

On windy days, the sea can get rough, with waves often a metre high or more. This can get pretty dangerous for kids. So check the weather forecast before you visit any of the Malia beaches.

It’ll almost certainly be hot and sunny all day, but make sure you check the wind speed as well.  If it’s around 1-3 metres per second, the seawater is calm and safe. However, when you get to 6 metres per second and more, you’ll get waves that could dump your little one below water and give them a nasty fright.  

This link on the Windy App site has a 7-day forecast for wind along the Malia coastline.

Stalis Beach

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Stalis Beach is the westernmost of the Malia beaches
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Stalis Beach at the end of a very hot day
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Stalis Beach from nearby Drapanos

Stalis Beach – also known as Stalida Beach – is a superb family-friendly beach just west of Malia.  

Sections of the beach are operated by the nearest hotels and bars, as at Malia and Hersonissos.  The beach and bed packages tend to be cheaper in Stalis than Malia – most between €6 and €8 as opposed to €10.

And some places even offer you a free umbrella and sunbed package if you eat with them. So if you’re in Malia on a budget, this will save you a few euros.

If there is little wind, Stalis beach is the best of the Malia beaches for families with small kids. The water is very shallow, and many families were paddling up to their knees 30 metres out from the shoreline.

Getting there: The regular Malia to Heraklion bus stops on the main road a few minutes’ walk from the beach.

Malia Beaches – East of Malia Main Beach

Pyrgos Beach Malia

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Pyrgos Beach is one of the quieter Malia beaches
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All that space – Pyrgos Beach
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A fishing boat near Pyrgos Beach

Pyrgos Beach is the eastern end of Malia beach. There’s a small clear sand break after the wall-to-wall sunbeds along the area of Malia beach close to the town.

There’s a lot more space here than along Malia Beach. There are two sections of sunbeds and umbrellas, but also plenty of open space if you don’t want or need these.

Getting there: The beach is accessible via the Pyrgos Blue Hotel or a few other points off the road to Malia Marina and harbour.

Potamos Beach Malia

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Perfect – Potamos Beach
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Potamos beach is the best Malia beach for families

Potamos Beach is the best of the Malia beaches. We visited them all, but Potamos is the one we all loved, the one to which we returned again and again.

We rate Potamos Beach one of the best beaches in Crete for families. It is actually two long wide, sandy beaches with three small rocky coves in between.  

We spent most of our time on the easternmost beach at Potamos, where the water tends to be calmest. The conditions for swimming were perfect, and with plenty of crystal-clear shallow water to paddle in for the younger ones.

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Another view of Potamos Beach near Malia
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A traditional amphora on the rocks at Potamos beach

There is also a great snack bar on this section of beach, and a couple of places to eat including Potamos Beach Restaurant. This is opposite the main entrance to the other section of beach to the west.

Getting there: The bus to Agios Nikolaos stops near the Malia Minoan Palace, from which it’s a few minutes’ walk to Potamos Beach. Otherwise it’s a 2-mile (3 km) walk from the centre of Malia town or a €8-9 taxi ride from the town.

Places To Visit Near The Malia Beaches

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The way to Old Malia – a very different side to the Crete party town
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Hersonissos harbour at sunset

The area around Malia and Hersonissos is the most touristed on the north Crete coast. But you don’t have to venture far to leave the party crowd behind.

Malia Old Town – a 15-20 minute walk from Malia Beach – is a world away from the loudness of the Malia Strip. It’s a tight labyrinth of narrow lanes and small squares, attracting an older crowd. The main thing to do there is eat out, and there is a huge choice of tavernas.

Some of them – like the Odas Taverna – are covered in purple bougainvillea flowers. It’s a lovely area to spend a couple of hours at the end of the day, after the summer heat begins to cool.

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Sarantari Beach

Just to the east, the fishing village of Sissi Crete is the kind of place that made people fall in love with Greece back in the 1960s. It has an astonishingly beautiful setting on an estuary with clear turquoise water below the peaks of the Dikti mountains. Life goes by much more slowly there than Malia, and that’s the main attraction for many. It’s also very popular with Greeks, recommendation indeed.

It’s also a short (half hour) drive to Agios Nikolaos, the main city in eastern Crete. The Mirabello Bay coast is breathtaking, and Voulisma Beach is the pick of the beaches in this area – and one of the best in Crete. You can also visit the fascinating Spinalonga Island from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda or Plaka.

Hersonissos, the other main party town in Crete, is a few miles west of Malia. And like Malia, you don’t have to venture far to avoid the crowds.

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Gefyri Beach looking towards Hersonissos

Most of the Hersonissos beaches are small affairs, narrow strips of sand packed with umbrellas and sunbeds.  There are a few gems away from the town, particularly Gefyri Beach and Sarantari Beach.

If you’re visiting Crete with kids you’ll probably also visit Aquaworld, a small aquarium very close to Hersonissos town centre. It’s a wonderful place to visit, and they also have a small reptile rescue centre where you can meet and hold the animals.  We all loved, my son so much so that we went back a second time for a birthday treat.

He preferred Aquaworld to the larger CretAquarium in Gournes, just off the road to Heraklion. This is also well worth a visit. We also visited Dinosauria Park while in the area, and had a great time seeing the many animatronic figures. We also visited a ‘dinosaur hospital’ there,  where kids would help mothers lay their eggs.

While around Malia and Hersonissos, don’t miss the outstanding Lychnostatis Open Air Museum. It’s one of the best of its kind in Europe, focusing mainly on rural Crete in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Malia is only 20 miles (30 km) or so from Heraklion, the capital of Crete. The city has several outstanding museums and the site of the Minoan palace complex at Knossos, just outside the city.

Best places to stay in Malia

You can use this helpful map below to compare the prices of different hotels and apartments in Malia Crete and see how close they are to the beach.  Just put in your travel dates, and number of guests and you will see the best deals for your stay.

Malia Beaches – Final Thoughts

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Malia Beach

It’s no surprise Malia became one of the most popular beach resorts in Greece. It has a great series of beaches, although the main Malia beach is packed solid with so much beach furniture you almost struggle to spot the sand.

It’s worth visiting Malia to spend some time at Potamos Beach. It’s the outstanding beach in the area, brilliant for families and also lovers of coastal scenery. We also loved Stalis Beach, which is a lot busier than Potamos but a great place for the kids to enjoy the crystal-clear sea.

If you love spending time on the beach in Crete, I suggest catching the bus to Agios Nikolaos at some point. There are some great Agios Nikolaos beaches along the shore of the city, facing the mountains across Mirabello Bay. A short journey further takes you to the tropical paradise of Voulisma Beach, and some of the most beautiful turquoise water you will ever see.

Image of David Angel found of Delve into Europe Travel Blog / Website

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.

Check out more of our articles on Crete here:

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  • Balos Beach Crete – breathtaking lagoon beach in the north-west corner of Crete
  • Falassarna Beach – wild series of stunning beaches backed by mountains on the west coast of Crete
  • Elafonissi Beach – one of the spectacular pink beaches in Crete
  • Kedrodasos Beach – glorious pristine beach and coves in a grove of rare juniper trees
  • Things To Do In Rethymno – discovering Crete’s enchanting third city
  • Rethymno Beaches – 20 of the best beaches in Rethymno province in central and western Crete
  • Panormos Crete – complete guide to this charming fishing village on Crete’s north coast
  • Arkadi Monastery Crete – fascinating monastery and church, site of infamous massacre during the Cretan Revolt
  • Kalypso Beach Crete – a fjord, of all things, in Crete – and one of the best places to swim and snorkel in Greece