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Stalis Beach: One of the best family beaches in Crete

Welcome to my guide to Stalis Beach Crete, a superb family-friendly beach between the resort towns of Hersonissos and Malia.

We rate Stalis Beach – also known as Stalida Beach – one of the best beaches in Crete for kids and families.

We stayed a few months in Malia so visited Stalis Beach many times in all conditions. My Stalis Beach guide covers what to see and do, sunbed bargains and tips on how to make the best of your time visiting Stalis.

I also include the all-important information on getting to Stalis, and places to visit along the coast in either direction. I hope you find it useful.

Why Visit Stalis Beach Crete

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A palm tree and beach bar at Stalis

Stalis Beach is one of the best beaches in Crete for families. It’s relatively sheltered and very shallow, so ideal for young kids to paddle in.

Stalis is very much oriented to families, so is much quieter than Malia, which attracts a younger (and noisier!) party crowd.

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Another sunny day on Stalis Beach
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Stalis Beach is perfect for paddling as the water is so shallow

Stalis Beach – also known as Stalida Beach – is a superb sandy beach. The wide, gently sloping bank of sand is what makes it perfect for kids. We visited a few times, and kids and their parents were often 30-40 metres away from the shore. And the water was still only up to their knees.

The scenery is also gorgeous, with fantastic views along the coast to the mountains to the east.

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A beach bar sign at Stalis

And relaxing at Stalis Beach tends to be easier on the budget than doing the same at the nearby Malia beaches. Bed and umbrella package rates are a few euros lower than in Malia (generally around €6 or €7, as opposed to €10). And some bars offer you use of bed and umbrellas all day if you eat a meal with them.

Things To Do At Stalis Beach

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Evening light on Stalis Beach
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Jetskis on Stalida Beach
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Crazy Golf at Nemo Beach Bar, Stalis

Stalis Beach is perfect for a family day out, especially if conditions are fairly calm as in the images in this article.

The shallow water is ideal for toddlers to paddle in safety, and also for kids to learn to swim. Otherwise, older kids can paddle anything between 30 to 50 metres out from the shoreline.

Most people who visit come to relax on the sunbeds for a few hours – they come in packages of two beds and a sunshade, and there’s no time limit on them.  

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Beach bars, restaurants and car hire signs in Stalis

Each section of beach is operated by a bar or restaurant, and there are plenty of Greek tavernas along the beach strip open all day.

You can also hire jetskis at the Maila end of the beach and go for a ride offshore.

And there are a few other family attractions along the beach, including a fun mini golf course at the Nemo Beach Bar.

Stalis Beach Tips

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The free section at the western end of the beach in Stalis
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Sunbed bargains in Stalis

Like most Greek beaches, Stalis beach is ‘organised’, with most of it taken up with sunbeds and umbrellas. You pay for a package of two beds and one umbrella. The beds and umbrella are then yours for as long as you want them – all day if you wish.

Stalis Beach is around a mile (1.6 km) long, and there are some wider, more spacious sections of sand around the Ocean Bar and Irish Pub.

There is a great view of Stalis Beach from the headland just to the west, where there are a few rocky coves where people swim.

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Paddling at Stalis Beach

If you don’t want a beach umbrella package, there is a small area at the far west end of the beach where there are none.

Stalis Beach is more sheltered than the Malia beaches further east. But there will be days when it’s too windy, and the waves are too high, for the kids to paddle or swim safely.

Where Is Stalis In Crete

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A bird’s eye view of Stalis from the mountains above Malia

Stalis Beach is on the Malia Hersonissos coastal strip on the north coast of Crete. It is 35 km east of the city of Heraklion, and 30 km east of Heraklion Airport, if you follow the coastal road via the centre of Hersonissos.

The distance to Heraklion is slightly shorter – 26 km – if you follow the main E75 road a couple of miles inland.

Hersonissos and Malia are one continuous conurbation, stretching around 8 miles (13 km) from Hersonissos) to Potamos Beach at the eastern end of Malia. Stalis Beach is in the middle of this built-up area, bridging the gap between where Hersonissos ends and Malia begins.   

How To Get To Stalis Beach

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Stalis Beach is between Malia and Hersonissos

We used the KTEL buses to get around while staying in the Hersonissos Malia area. Stalis is on the route between Heraklion (sometimes called Irakleio on timetables) and Agios Nikolaos, and the vast majority of these regular buses stop there.

Stalis is served by three bus stops – 27, 28 and 29. The road along which the bus travels is no more than a 5-minute walk from the beach. Whichever bus stop you use will depend on the Stalis hotel you stay in.

If you use the bus regularly, you’ll notice that some buses from Heraklion go as far as Agios Nikolaos, while others only go as far as Malia. That’s fine – all of these stop at Stalis Beach.

A taxi from Malia to Stalis will cost you around €9-10.

Places To Visit Near Stalis Beach

There are so many places to visit around Stalis Beach. It’s in the heart of the busiest, most-touristed part of Crete, and there are plenty of things to do with kids. There are also some fascinating ancient sites to explore.

Malia and Eastwards

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Sunset on Malia Beach
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Sunset behind the jetty at Alexander Beach Malia
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Pyrgos Beach is one of the quieter Malia beaches

The Malia beaches are one of the main reasons this part of Crete became so popular. The long narrow beach is beautiful, and each section is named after the hotel or beach bar that operates it. You pay a bit of a premium – around €10 – for your bed and umbrella – and in peak season there isn’t a whole lot of space.

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The way to Old Malia – a very different side to the Crete party town

Malia Old Town – the other side of the main road and a mile inland from the beaches – is very different in feel. It’s full of traditional Greek tavernas, the best of which is the Stone House opposite the church. Some of them are wonderfully picturesque, whitewashed buildings and purple bougainvillea flowers cascading over balconies. There are also a few small churches, several of which are open in the daytime and evening.   

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Potamos Beach
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A traditional amphora on the rocks at Potamos beach

Potamos Beach is around 2 miles (3 km) east of Malia town and is one of the best beaches for families in Crete. It narrowly wins our family vote over Stalis Beach, but if you’re not driving, Stalis makes a much more convenient base. There are three gorgeous sandy beaches, all of which are shallow and ideal for kids. It’s also very close to the Malia Minoan Palace if you feel like a wander.

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Stunning Sissi
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The Happy Train passing through the centre of Sissi village
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Cool off in Palm Bay Hotel’s flowery walkway

Beyond here, the main road runs a couple of miles inland from the pretty seaside village of Sissi Crete. It’s a gorgeous little village around an estuary, with a couple of beaches a mile or so to the east. Sissi is a great day trip from Stalis or Malia, but bus connections, bizarrely, are very few. You’ll need to drive there or take a taxi (€15-20 from Malia, more from Stalis).

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Approaching Spinalonga
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A summer day at Voulisma Beach

The road continues eastwards, through a narrow mountain pass before eventually reaching Agios Nikolaos. The fourth largest city in Crete is a good base for exploring eastern Crete, with the island of Spinalonga and Voulisma Beach both nearby. There are also some fantastic Agios Nikolos beaches to explore closer to the city.  

Hersonissos and Westwards

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The main building at Lychnostatis Open Air Museum
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The Herbarium at Lychnostatis

Hersonissos is just a couple of bus stops up the hill and around the corner from Stalis Beach. Alight at the Mediterraneo stop (unusually it doesn’t have a stop number) for the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum, one of the best museums in Crete.

This small museum has so many displays and so much information packed into it. It covers life in rural Crete in the 19th and early 20th centuries. You can learn all about crafts including weaving, or visit a recreated middle class home or a 1950s schoolroom. There’s also a fascinating exhibit on washing clothes in the 19th century, an arduous 13-step process using indigo and ashes.

Iliostasi Beach, the first of the Hersonissos beaches, is just behind the Museum. Like those in Malia, the beaches in Hersonissos are small and narrow, and jam-packed with sunbeds and umbrellas in the high season.

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Sarantari Beach

For the best of the Hersonissos beaches, we suggest heading just outside the town Gefyri Beach and Sarantari Beach are the pick of the bunch. Hersonissos town is packed through the season, and the hilltop villages nearby – Koutouloufari, Piskopiano and Old Hersonissos – make a pleasant quiet afternoon away from the crowds.

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Gefyri Beach looking towards Hersonissos

There are several big-ticket Crete family attractions along the road west to Heraklion.  Water City in Anopolis is ideal if it’s too windy for the beach. Dinosauria Park is an enjoyable diversion into prehistory, and CretAquarium reveals the spectacular marine life around the island of Crete.

Beyond these, the capital of Crete, Heraklion, beckons. Most people visit for the Knossos Minoan Palace site, which is well over 3,000 years old. If you intend to visit Knossos, I would also suggest making time to see Heraklion Archaeological Museum. It’s where many of the treasures discovered at Knossos and elsewhere in Crete are displayed, and helps fire your imagination when you visit these ancient sites.

Stalis Beach Crete – Final Thoughts

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Sunset at Stalis

Stalis Beach is a fantastic beach for kids, one of the best beaches in Crete if you’re planning a seaside family day out.

It’s easy to reach from Hersonissos or Malia, indeed anywhere along the coast between there and Heraklion.

On balance the three of us prefer Potamos Beach because it’s less crowded than Stalis Beach. But it’s not as crowded as the beaches in Malia, and makes for a wonderful day out.

Check out more of our articles on Crete here:

  • Things To Do In Chania – discover the most beautiful city in Crete, indeed, perhaps, Greece
  • 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
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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.