Crete Sea Kayaking Adventures
Why Choose O.A.R.S. to Kayak the Southern Coast of Crete?
O.A.R.S. has been in business for over 40 years and that is no accident. We thrive on creating adventures that take travelers of all ages and skill levels off the beaten path and away from the crowds to magical landscapes, rivers and coastlines. National Geographic Adventure, Outside and Sunset magazines have proclaimed O.A.R.S. adventures as some of the "Best Trips on the Planet."
Our Crete Inn-to-Inn Sea Kayaking adventure is no different. With a combined 100 years of experience in the adventure travel industry, O.A.R.S.’ staff of knowledgeable adventurers has put together an intimate paddling trip along the pristine coastline of one of Greece’s most diverse and dramatic islands. When we’re not paddling the magical blue waters of the Libyan Sea and relaxing on secluded beaches, guests hit the land to explore ancient sites and hike through impressive gorges.
We believe it is a fundamental part of adventure-tourism to work with the local community while at the same time bringing our wealth of experience to the table. In addition to staying in family-owned inns and eating at local restaurants, our trips our escorted by highly-skilled sea kayaking guides. These experienced guides share their personal experiences with guests as well as interesting information and facts about the areas and sites we visit. Many of our guides also have long-established relationships with the families who run the inns, hotels and restaurants where we stop so guests will often feel as if they’re part of a big welcoming Greek family.
Our like-minded partners realize they are accountable to O.A.R.S. high standards, so you can rest assured you will be in be in good hands. O.A.R.S. has taken out the guesswork and added our guarantee. We hope you have an opportunity to join us for this once in a lifetime Crete kayaking adventure.
Crete: Inn-to-Inn Kayaking Trip
A little piece of Greek paradise is calling. The Crete Inn-to-Inn Kayaking adventure allows you to paddle the unspoiled coast of one of Greece’s largest islands where sea caves, isolated coves and spectacular beaches abound, and trekking through famed ancient sites and natural gorges adds to the magic of your trip. We start our journey in the beach town of Matala, known for the famous caves along its shores that housed a clan of hippies in the 1960’s, including the likes of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens.
From here, we paddle along the coast, taking time to explore the Minoan archaeological site of Kommos and the breathtaking Minoan palace of Phaistos before trekking through the beautiful Samaria Gorge. Along the way, we swim in the warm waters of the Libyan Sea and cliff jump, unwind from the day’s adventures in quaint tavernas over delicious Cretan cuisine, and grab a good night’s rest at our various inns in off-the-beaten path locales. Mid way through our journey we reach the idyllic town of Loutro, a breathtakingly beautiful destination, which can only be accessed by boat. From here, we explore several more unforgettable beaches and have the opportunity to take a challenging hike through the Aradena Gorge and various hillside villages.
Leaving Loutro, we paddle to the vibrant town of Plakias, where the energetic nightlife will likely tempt you. Then on to Agia Galini for a final seaside dinner overlooking the harbor before heading back to Matala the following day. This 8-day Crete vacation is perfect for travelers who enjoy active adventures by day and relaxation and comfort by night.
Crete’s Southern Coastline
While Crete’s northern coastline and developed beaches attract sun-loving tourists, it’s Crete’s southern coastline, dominated by craggy cliffs, sea caves, isolated coves and hidden beaches, that offers the best getaway for nature and adventure lovers. While some parts of the rugged southern coast are accessed by windy roads, the area’s best and most beautiful beaches like Sweetwater and Marmara are only accessed by boat, natural gorges or long hikes along the E4 foot path, Europe’s long distance trail system.
At Sweetwater Beach, you’ll find a pebbly beach and turquoise waters, a small cave and maybe even a goat or two high above on the dramatic cliffs. Marmara, meaning marbles, near Aradena Gorge is another off-the-beaten-path bay with a colorful beach of pebbly “marbles” and windblown cliffs perfect for cliff jumping. The southern coast of Crete also fascinates paddlers with its many sea caves, including several dramatic examples near Red Beach, which can be explored by the adventurous.
Samaria Gorge National Park
Located in western Crete in the White Mountain, the Samaria Gorge at approximately 10 miles long is one of the longest known gorges in all of Europe. With walls that reach more than 1,600 feet high, locals refer to it as the “Great Gorge” for both its size and beauty compared to other gorges in the area. Those who hike the whole canyon can plan on spending 4-6 hours through varied terrain, and possibly water too depending on the time of year (although, the gorge is impassable in the winter months due to high water).
In 1962, the area was dedicated as a national park to save the kri-kri, or Crete wild goat, from extinction. The gorge now protects the kri-kri, along with more than 450 plant species. Samaria Gorge is also one of the areas where you can look into Crete’s historic past. Deep in the gorge, visitors pass through the abandoned village of Samaria, and then eventually trek by the 14th Century Church devoted to Saint Maria of Egypt after which the canyon is named. Samaria Gorge is a must-do for anyone traveling to Crete.
Ancient Civilizations of Crete
When we think of Greece we think of eons of history at every turn in the street, and Crete is no different. While the history of Crete dates back to 7th millennium B.C., it’s the evidence of the Minoan era four millennia later that captivates travelers’ interest today. Just outside of Crete’s capital city, Heraklion, visitors will find a massive Minoan palace at Knossos which demonstrates the ancient people’s impressive skill and architectural genius. But it’s the harbor town of Kommos that has one of the richest archeological sites, including palatial buildings, a temple, a sanctuary, large courtyard and evidence of olive pressing.
Other historic gems on the island include the Minoan palace of Phaistos, a 10th Century chapel built in honor of St. Paul at Agios Pavlos, and the Venetian-era fortress at Frangokastello. So many archeological gems in such a small geographic area offer visitors an extraordinarily unique opportunity to peek into the past.