0Vai beach

Vai beach is one of the best known beach­es on Crete, famed for being sur­round­ed by a for­est of palm trees — often mar­ket­ed as Europe’s last palm for­est. The beach itself is on the east coast and is fair­ly iso­lat­ed from most resorts but it is easy to reach by car and coach trips also run there.

Many pic­tures show a beau­ti­ful sandy beach, how­ev­er be warned that in peak time it will be cov­ered in beach umbrel­las, will be very busy. There is a large car park but this is not free so make sure to take some change if you dri­ve your­self. Park­ing on the road is free so if you go out­side of peak sea­son you’ll have no prob­lems

Vai beach out of peak sea­son

Vai beach in peak sea­son

Once at the beach there are facil­i­ties there, with a cafe/restaurant that serves a range of hot and cold food and drink. Prices aren’t too bad but you are a cap­tive mar­ket so expect to pay “tourist prices”. Next to the cafe there are steps up to a view­ing point which is where the 2 pic­tures above were tak­en from.

Vai Beach Cafe and stepsThere are also water sports facil­i­ties for thrillseek­ers, although many beach­es offer these so it isn’t worth trav­el­ling a long way just for these. The water is beau­ti­ful­ly clear as is vis­i­ble in both pho­tos above, and the sand is fin­er than on many beach­es in Crete which does make it appear more like a par­adise beach than many. The trees pro­vide shade to the rear of the beach, and if you want shade near the water you can opt to pay for an umbrel­la, or if you have room in your suit­case you could take a pop-up tent (there are many options — e.g. this one from ama­zon). In sum­mer months the sand on the beach will get uncom­fort­ably hot between 11am and 5pm so take some suit­able footwear.

There is actu­al­ly more than 1 beach near Vai, but only the main beach is imme­di­ate­ly acces­si­ble from the road. This sec­ond beach is called Psili Ammos Beach. To reach Psili Ammos you need to walk around 500m , start­ing by climb­ing the steps to the view­ing point above the cafe/restaurant. The path con­tin­ues south along the top and slopes down at the far end. Psili Ammos is much qui­eter and so far is unspoiled. You can see a 3D view of the path in a pho­to on google maps

Road sign with Vai shown straight and to the leftIf you decide to dri­ve to Vai your­self beware the con­fus­ing road signs! There is an old road and a new road to Vai and the signs have both roads shown as going to Vai! The old­er road is short­er and more scenic but slow­er so if you’re explor­ing this is the route to take, but if you have kids in the back and just want to get to the beach the new road is the bet­ter option.

The jour­ney to Vai takes around 30 mins from Sitea, 1 hour from Makrys-Gia­los or Xerokam­pos, and around 90–100 min­utes from Ier­ape­tra or Agios Niko­laos. The roads aren’t too busy even in peak sea­son and are of good qual­i­ty, but some routes can have a lot of twists and turns at times.

A trip to Vai can be com­bined with a vis­it to Toplou monastery, Sitea, or the beach­es at Itanos. If you are trav­el­ling from the south coast a vis­it could be com­bined with a vis­it to Xerokam­pos or Zakros on the south-east, and there is a Venet­ian vil­la at Etia. If you are trav­el­ling from the north coast Richtis Gorge is anoth­er pos­si­ble stop off. Doing any of these addi­tion­al vis­its will make the trip into a full-day event.

For more infor­ma­tion and opin­ions, we rec­om­mend look­ing at the Vai beach page on Trip Advi­sor

Map of Vai Beach

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