Following our tradition to provide guest posts from experts, here is one for sea kayak. Stelios Asmargianakis really knows his territory (Crete) and shares some pretty nice insights. He provides such for years.
Crete is the largest island of Greece with 1024 km of coastline, 48 summits above 2000 meters and more than 200 gorges with a population of just 677000 people (2011). With that kind of geography, Crete is an outstanding world destination for outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing and kayaking to name a few.
What you need to know about Sea Kayak?
Paddling is not rocket science but it does require proper technique if you want to cover distances and be safe in various sea conditions. Its relation with the tourist kayaks (called sit on tops) that you can usually find in hotels are near to zero. The benefits of joining a club or attending a sea kayak course are countless and will help you progress much faster and safer.
The majority of sea kayaks are closed type and referred to as sit in kayaks. They got usually 3 to 4 store compartments which are waterproof and are all used to store gear. The amount of storage that we can carry in a sea kayak (especially if it is an expedition kayak) varies but is more than enough in most of the cases to do a long trip. There are reported trips with SKUK kayaks up to a month self supported in Greenland!
Like any other sport there are a few different types of sea kayaks and a big enough list of paddling gear to choose from.
If you are an experienced paddler you can rent a kayak in Crete or join any of the guided tours which usually cover most of the island. Long expeditions up to 10 days are also available while there is of course the option for someone to circumnavigate the island (more than 800 km).
North Crete: equally interesting
Most of travellers have the idea that the greatest kayaking routes in Crete are only on the south part of the island due to marketing. That is true up to a point and depending what each traveller is looking for. There are many remote places in the north part too. Below I’m going to describe briefly a few routes on each region. With a map and a little bit of search you will be able to make a plan easy.
If you are a novice paddler the best spot is in the south of Chania region as that part is very well protected from north winds due to the mountains in the region. The route that starts from Chora Sfakion or Sfakia village and end up in Agia Roumeli or further west is one of the best in Crete.
Heading further west requires a good kayaking knowledge and good paddling skills in strong winds.
In the south part of Rethymno region the route that starts from Plakias town and end up in Agios Pavlos beach (heading east) is one of the best in the area. The main characteristic of this trip is the wonderful remote sandy beaches. Lots of nice camping spots too. Beware the high temperatures during the summer and the strong winds in Plakias. Over the years I found the most accurate weather forecast to be that from meteo.gr and more specific its sailing maps.
If you enjoy open crossings than the route that starts from Kokkinos Pirgos marina in the south west of Heraklion and going towards Paksimadia islands is a must. You can either paddle back the same route or going back to Agia Galini in south Rethimno and then follow the coast line to get back to Kokkinos Pirgos. That is about 38 – 40km while the crossing is roughly 16 km from Kokkinos Pirgos to Paksimadia and about 13 to Agia Galini.
Circumnavigating the two small islands is about 5km. You need to carry food and water as there are no inhabitants.
Heading westerly to Heraklio region and in its south coast we can paddle in my opinion one of the best sea kayaking routes in Greece as a day trip. 500 meters of vertical cliffs (limestone), caves, impressive beaches and gorges with no access by road offering a remarkable landscape to the paddler. Starting from Kaloi Limenes village and going towards Matala is about 22 km one way. Good paddling skills are important as usually at the end of cape Lithino strong katabatic winds occur from Psiloritis mountain.
Moving on the north east part of Crete and starting from the small fishing village of Mochlos in Lasithi region we can paddle towards Psira island (circumnavigate it) and finish further south to the village of Pachia Ammos. That is a distance of about 25km.
The crossing to Psira island is about 4.5 km and is exposed to north and south winds as the shortest gap (12km) between north and south Crete is nearby. The island has cliffs up to 300 meters high and a large cave to explore. Psira was first excavated in 1907 and found that was an important port in Minoan civilization (3650 to 1400 BC).
From the village of Pachia ammos you can take the bus to get back to Mochlos or get a taxi. The distance is short enough and a taxi won’t cost too much.
Outdoor activities and Sea Kayaking in Crete,Greece.
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