For a beach holiday in Crete it is best to go from June to September. At this time, the sea has a really pleasant bathing temperature of 72 to 75 °F (22°-24 °C), while the temperature of the air is usually between 75 and 86 °F (24-30 °C).
Inland, it is very hot during this time, but on the coast there is often a refreshing breeze from the north-west, which makes it difficult for swimming on many days at wind speeds over 9 mph (15 km/h) due to the then high waves. This could happen on many beaches and coats sections of Crete and could also be dangerous for the untrained swimmer.
On the south coast, on the other hand, the north wind blows towards the open sea. This makes the waves not so high, but on the beach itself it can become unpleasant, as occurs, for example, on the long beaches at Ierapetra. This may occur on several days in July and August, when the northwest winds are particularly strong.
For this reason, it is recommended to stay for a beach holiday close to sheltered bays, e.g. in Elounda.
The beaches along the north coast of Crete are usually flatter and the water is slightly warmer. There are also life guards and rescue swimmers on most of the beaches of the north coast. For this, most beaches on the south coast are less visited.
Climatic Data Crete:
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For the more sensitive swimmer, it is better to wear a swimming suit in April and May as well as from October.
On most public beaches there are sunbathers and sunshades, which can be rented for two people per day for about 6 Euros.
Nevertheless, there is an area on each beach for visitors who have their own beach mats, umbrellas and beach equipment. These are also available everywhere in nearby shops (mini-markets) often cheap to buy. These are usually really ‘cheap-goods’, but for two weeks of bathing holiday it is enough. Of course, most of the locals also bring their own equipment to the beach.
Danger in the sea
Most swimming accidents happen to untrained swimmers who underestimate winds and waves or overestimate themselves.
So you should not swim with hurried ‘red flags’ above the beach master’s observation point and also not ignore the red buoys on the sea in front of the beach. These warning signs are hoisted in heavy waves, and there are sometimes also dangerous flows outside the marked swimming area or boats could catch the swimmer here.
Every year, disregarding these basic rules, serious accidents occur.
On the other hand, the sea-dwellers are the least concerned about the swimmer.
Although there are sharks in the Mediterranean – even the White Shark appears next to 15 other dangerous species – but these do not usually enter the shore zone.
In the last 160 years there have been only 15 known shark attacks in Greece – and the chance to be killed in a car accident in Greece is about 1,000 times the size of a shark attack.
The majority of the shark attacks in the last 160 years were also not happening to tourists, but mainly divers and fishermen on the open sea, because the dangerous shark species practically never come 100 yards (ca. 91 m) or closer to the coast.
The last known death occurred back in 1956, when a swimmer jumped from his yacht into the sea at Corfu and was attacked by a Great White Shark. This also did not happen in the immediate coast zone.
For the same reason that you will hardly meet sharks, you will not see dolphins. They also prefer deeper waters and seldom reach the shore.
Even jellyfish are kept away from the shore on Crete and their stitches are painful, but not dangerous for humans. And if you make an acquaintance with a landlord of the shore, like a scorpion fish on a rocky ground or a weaver’s fish on a sandy surface, this is painful but not dangerous if you do not have an allergy.
On the other hand, sea urchins can hurt your feet while you are wading from the shore into the sea. It is therefore advisable to take care where you step and it is generally better to wear bathing or swimming shoes.
Other bathing instructions
Naked bathing or ‘Topless’ is officially forbidden on Crete, but is tolerated on isolated and remote beaches. ‘Topless’ during sunbathing or swimming is tolerated in many tourist centers.
If you come to a beach where other people are naked-bathing or ‘Topless’, it is unlikely that there will be problems.
On beaches, which are mainly visited on the weekends by older locals, you should renounce the naked bathing or ‘Topless’, since this could be regarded as a provocation.
Also remember to take with you sunscreen, sunglasses, hat and drinking water, especially if you want to visit a further offshore beach on the south coast.
In addition, sunscreen, shower gel, toothpaste and similar bath products are much more expensive in Crete – and particularly in tourist shops during the main season – than in UK, so it can be worthwhile to bring along corresponding articles.
Also, alcohol or food is unhealthy and dangerous before bathing, and you should also leave the beach in the condition you found it – please don’t leave any garbage and other wastes back !
Dogs on the beach
Basically, dogs have the right to come with their owners to the beach. However, there are some communal beaches (for example, in Elounda), where this is not a pleasure to see and a prohibition sign exist.
According to the current Greek animal welfare law, dogs are allowed to walk close to their owner (no leash duty!) at all external areas, as long as excrement are cleared and you are responsible for all damages, which possible caused by your four-legged friend.
However, it is recommended to carry the dog pet health booklet (ID with the entries of the protective vaccine) if you are asked to submit it.