sarantari beach crete

Sarantari Beach Crete: One of the best beaches near Hersonissos

Welcome to our guide to Sarantari Beach, a stunning small beach near the busy resort town of Hersonissos Crete. We recently spent a week in Hersonissos and Sarantari beach and Gefyri beach were our favourite beaches to visit.

The beaches in Hersonissos town are busy and crowded, but the beaches and coves just north of the town are a different matter entirely. There are several wonderful beaches in this area, and Sarantari Beach is our pick of these.

Our Sarantari Beach guide includes a full description of the beach and surrounding area. We also show you where it is and advise on getting there, and show you places to visit nearby. Enjoy!

Why Visit Sarantari Beach

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Sarantari Beach

Sarantari Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Hersonissos Crete.

It’s a short distance outside the busy holiday town, but very different in feel. It is also considerably quieter than the crowded beaches in Hersonissos town centre and around.  

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Sarantari Beach, looking south

Sarantari Beach is very scenic, with distinctive cliffs with a faint hint of ochre, and exceptionally clear, shallow water.

The beach is protected from the gusty north-westerly winds by the Cape Sarantaris headland, making it and some of the surrounding Hersonissos beaches and coves ideal for families with small children.

Sarantari beach is ideal for paddling and play, with refreshments on the beach and a restaurant just across the road above the beach.

Sarantari Beach – And Its Other Spellings

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Sarantari Beach looking towards Hersonissos

You may also encounter mentions of Sarantaris Beach, Sarandari Beach,  Sarandaris Beach and even Saradari Beach while on holiday in Hersonissos. There’s also a chance you’ll hear mention of Sarandaris coves. I’ll explain the differences for you.

You often find Greek words transliterated (rewritten from the Greek to the Latin alphabet) in slightly different ways. I spoke to several locals about the names of these beaches, and they all had slightly different takes on which name is correct.

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Sarandaris Cape Beach, a short distance up the coast from Sarantari Beach

Sarantari Beach is the most-commonly-used spelling of the beach in this article. It transliterates from Greek (I learned all this thoroughly studying for my degree) as ‘Sarantari’. It’s around 400 metres south of Cape Sarantaris and the whitewashed chapel of St George.  It is also just short of a small platform of rock which serves as the local nudist beach.

Just north of Sarantari Beach and the nudist rock beach there is another small beach with white cliffs. It’s another beauty, and its name transliterates as ‘Sarantaris’. Some people call it Sarantaris Cape Beach or Sarandaris Cape Beach to distinguish it from the subject of our article, Sarantari Beach.

Locals also refer to the Sarandaris coves or Hersonissos coves. Generally, they mean the same thing. They are a string of small, east-facing coves running up the short stretch of coast from the Creta Maris Resort towards Sarandaris Cape. They also include the superb Gefyri Beach.

What To See And Do At Sarantari Beach Hersonissos

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Sarantari Beach

Sarantari Beach is a small beach at the base of 15-20-metre-high cliffs which shelter it from the prevailing strong wind. So it’s an ideal beach for families and kids to spend the day.

Sarantari – Paralia Sarantari in Greek – is what is called an ‘organised’ beach, so you pay for your sunbed and umbrella – usually €10 for the two.

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Get your sunbeds here: Sarantari Beach

The umbrellas and beds are placed along most of the length of the beach, but the ends are left for visitors who would prefer to sit on the sand and rocks.

You can spend the day lounging on your sunbed (if you do, keep slip-slap-slopping UPF factor 50 on through the day).

You can also order drinks or snacks from the bar on the beach.

The sheltered location of Sarantari beach means that the seawater is nearly always calm, so it’s ideal for paddling for kids or a gentle swim. I also saw a few people snorkelling there – the clear water offers ideal conditions for this.

Where Is Sarantari Beach Crete

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A distant view of Sarantari Beach

Sarantari Beach is 2 km (1.25 miles) north of the Crete seaside town of Hersonissos. The coastal part of Hersonissos is 27 km (17 miles) east of Heraklion, the capital of Crete.

It’s also very close to Sarantari Cape (sometimes called Cape Sarandaris), and the seaside village of Anissaras, less than 1 km to the west.

How To Get To Sarantari Beach

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The pathway down to Sarantari Beach

Sarantari Beach is a 15-20-minute walk north of Hersonissos port and town centre.

To access it, unless you’re staying there, you need to follow the road around the Creta Maris Resort, arriving at a cove called Ha Beach. It’s a 10-minute walk north from there to Sarantari Beach.

Buses and the Hersonissos tourist train don’t run along the narrow coast road past the coves and beaches. So other than walking the only ways to reach Sarantari Beach are by driving or taking a taxi. Bear in mind that Hersonisos Taxis have a minimum fare of around €8, which covers a ride within the town or the nearby villages or Piskopiano, Koutouloufari or Old Hersonissos.

It can be reached via a concrete path which has some small sections of steps down to the shore.

Places To Visit Near Sarantari Beach

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Sarantari Cape Beach

We also recommend the gorgeous Sarantaris Cape Beach just up the coast from Sarantari Beach. It’s a 5-10 minute walk away, and is another beautiful sheltered spot with crystal-clear water.

Just beyond this beach, below the headland and St George’s Chapel, is a paved area with a small watersports centre. The water here is breathtakingly clear, and ideal for snorkelling and diving. It’s also popular with stand-up paddleboarders.

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The watersports area below Sarandaris Cape
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St George’s Chapel

You can walk down to the waterfront from the Cape and St George’s Chapel. This tiny, beautiful whitewashed church wasn’t open either time I visited (often the case in Greece) but it’s still worth the walk there for the views along the coast. There are also a few trees around the Chapel offering a little shade from the heat.

I also made several visits to Gefyri Beach, a short distance down the coast road towards Hersonissos.   It’s another superb beach, a series of tiny coves at the southern end and a more ‘organised’ (commercialized) section to the north, with sunbeds and umbrellas available. There’s also a great little snack bar across the road from the beach, charging a third for bottled drinks what you’d pay next to one of the Hersonissos beaches in town.

Hersonissos – along with nearby Malia – is the party capital of Crete, the hedonistic spiritual cousins of the likes of Kavos, Ayia Napa and Ibiza. There are several beaches in and around the town. Hersonissos Beach is on the shore of the harbour, but nearly every last grain of sand is packed with umbrellas.

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Gefyri Beach near Hersonissos

Between the port and immensely popular Star Beach, there are several smaller beaches and many waterfront restaurants. Some have tables right on the rocks, while others have balconies above the water where you can eat.

Star Beach is a series of beaches with a water park and slides, great for families and kids. Beyond there, the beaches are quieter and prices drop. Whereas you’d expect to pay €10 or more for a sunbed and umbrella in the centre of Hersonissos, you pay just €2 for a sunshade at Iliostasi beach, behind the excellent Lychnostatis Open Air Museum.

Beyond this, a few miles along the east coast road, the brash charms of Malia await. Yet even here there are quieter places to escape, including the outstanding Potamos Beach, the pick of the Malia beaches. Though there are also quieter places, such as the villages of Piskopiano, Koutouloufari and Old Hersonissos, high on the hill above Hersonissos port.

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Karavostasi Beach Bali in summer

Crete’s capital Heraklion is 27 km to the west of Hersonissos. It’s best known for the Minoan palace complex of Knossos and its outstanding Archaeological Museum. Check out my guide to the best things to do in Heraklion for a complete guide to this often-overlooked but fascinating city.

There are plenty of attractions along the road to Heraklion, including Water City, Dinosauria Park and the impressive CretAquarium.

From there you can head inland and down towards the south coast of Crete, or west in the direction of Bali and the many Rethymno beaches in the central west of the island.

Hersonissos Hotels

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Creta Maris Resort at sunset

There is a massive range of places to stay in Hersonissos, ranging from luxury resorts with their own beaches to studios and apartments ideal for those planning to party on a budget.

Creta Maris Resort is the largest resort in the town, occupying a prime spot between the port and Sarantari coves. It’s the sort of place you could stay in for a week without venturing outside – with a private beach, 16 swimming pools, seven restaurants and a hammam. Not that we suggest you do this, of course!

Palmera Beach Hotel & Spa is a great choice for adults only, in a superb location midway between Hersonissos port and the Star Beach resort.

Star Beach is hugely popular with families, with some lovely coves as well as the large waterpark area to entice you.

We stayed at Minas Apartments, a block or so back from the port and Hersonissos beach. It turned out to be a great choice, close to Valentino’s, one of the best places to eat in Hersonissos. The family running the place are wonderful hosts too, incredibly welcoming.

Sarantari Beach – Final Thoughts

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Stunning Sarantari Beach

We love Sarantari Beach.  It’s a superb beach for families, with beautiful cliffs and incredible clear water. It’s undoubtedly one of the best beaches near Heraklion, and a few people I met on my travels in the area even rate it among the best beaches in Crete.

One thing’s for sure – it’s one of the best beaches in Hersonissos. Along with neighbouring Gefyri beach, it’s well worth a day trip from Heraklion for a great day by the sea.

It’s also just a few miles along the coast to Malia, Crete’s other main party town. There are some great beaches around Malia, including Stalis Beach and Potamos Beach at opposite ends of the town. And for somewhere a little more relaxed, don’t miss the superb Lychnostatis Open Air Museum and the picturesque streets of nearby Malia Old Town.

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.

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