Paplinou Beach is a beach on the south east coast a little to the east of Ierapetra. The western end of the beach is for visitors and is officially known as Thalassa after the beach bar located there (not to be confused with the resort near Chania), whilst the eastern end is for people booked at the resort and is usually referred to as Ostria beach. The beach is long and the water is excellent and there is plenty of off-road parking available.
The eastern end of the beach has watersports but these are associated with the resort and might not be available to guests, I have never asked so am not sure. The beach itself is free but you can use the facilities (pools, sunbeds, etc) if you spend €5 at the bar (price as of 2020). There are 2 breakwaters built a short way out into the sea that protect the beach and help keep the water calm and warm.
The beach has reasonable soft sand, although as with much of Crete is is coarse sand rather than fine golden sand. This is good for water quality as the coarser sand isn’t so easily disturbed by currents so the water is usually very clear. The snorkelling is quite good although as sands have shifted over the years and covered some of the natural rock outcrops the amount of sea life has reduced but the last 2–3 years have seen the start of a recovery. In addition to numerous fish I have seen eels, octopus, and a lionfish once.
The pools are quite good although as they are unheated when it is windy they can get quite cool, even in the middle of summer. There is a baby pool that is only around 2ft (60cm) deep with a giant structure in the middle with slides coming from it that young children seem to love, although for the younger ones you will of course have to supervise. Note that whilst there are staff present there don’t appear to be any explicit lifeguards.
Ostria Beach resort is only 10–15 minutes drive from Ierapetra, around 40 minutes from Makrys Gialos, or 30 minutes from Myrtos. When approaching from the west look for the sign and entrance for the resort, when approaching from the east go past the main sign and then take the next entrance.