0Making the most of the beach

Most people vis­it­ing Crete for a hol­i­day will be plan­ning to vis­it the beach. There isn’t much needed for a quick dip in the sea oth­er than swim­wear and a tow­el, but there are oth­er things you might want to think about tak­ing to enhance the exper­i­ence, espe­cially if you plan to spend lots of time on the beach

Ice-water

After an hour on the beach, or an acci­dent­al mouth­ful of sea­wa­ter I’m always ready for some cold fresh water. In typ­ic­al Cretan sum­mer tem­per­at­ures it’s also import­ant for your health to hydrate reg­u­larly. For the most refresh­ing water we put put a half-full 2 litre bottle of water in the freez­er overnight sloped slightly upward (rest it on some­thing) so the neck is clear. The next day top it up to full from a new bottle, and then put the new, and now half-full, bottle in the freez­er in place of the one you just removed. The one you just removed is now half-ice and half water. By the time you’ve trav­elled to the beach and have had a bathe or a laze for a few minutes most of the ice will have melted and the water will be ice-cold.

Goggles, Mask & Snorkel

The water on Crete is beau­ti­fully clean and clear so snor­kelling and diving are highly recom­men­ded. If you only have goggles these add plenty of fun, but a full snorkel, mask, and flip­pers is even bet­ter. I recom­mend tak­ing some cheap tooth­paste to clean the inside of your mask to pre­vent it steam­ing up.

Bucket & Spade

If you have kids a buck­et and spade are essen­tial, but even adults can have fun — maybe you want to dig a big hole and bury your mate in it for a funny photo. The buck­et will also prove use­ful if you want to try your hand at catch­ing any sea creatures but remem­ber to put them back after­wards.

Bread & a net

If you want to see (and or catch) any­thing the best thing to do is take a bit of old bread with you. Chuck a little into the sea and there will soon be a large num­ber of fish enjoy­ing it. If you want to have a go at catch­ing any then you’ll need a net, but they’re usu­ally faster than you, so without the bread you’re unlikely to have much suc­cess. Some beaches have rock pools where you can catch little fish, snails, shrimp, and baby crabs but you should put them back very soon — a small buck­et of water will very quickly warm up and your catches will die in minutes in the over­heated (and deoxy­gen­ated) water.

Waterproof camera

You might already have a cam­era or phone with cam­era that you take to the beach, but a water­proof action cam (like a go pro) is much safer and can go in the sea with you too. There are plenty of little 4k action cams online for a lot less than a GoPro.

Camp chair

If you like to spend a few hours relax­ing on the beach then it is nice to be able to sit. Some beaches have sun­beds but you usu­ally have to pay for these, and many of the nicest beaches are off-the-beaten-track and so don’t have any facil­it­ies. A little camp chair or stool makes it much easi­er and nicer to sit on the beach whilst read­ing a book or listen­ing to a pod­cast.

Beach ‘mat’

Sim­il­ar to a camp chair, a pad­ded beach mat is much nicer to lie on than a tow­el, and also frees up your tow­el for use as a pil­low whilst sun­bathing and read­ing.

Pop-up tent

We first took a pop-up tent to Crete when we took my eld­est child, who was a mere 6 weeks old at the time! It was essen­tial that she was fully pro­tec­ted from the UV, and also that her moth­er had some pri­vacy for feed­ing her. The tent proved immensely use­ful not just for child pro­tec­tion but also as a space to keep keys, phones, books, water, etc out of the sun, out of the wind, and out of the way of any blow­ing sand. Ours is only about 1m square and just over 1m high, but it twists to fold up into a bag and becomes the size of a small-ish bicycle wheel. This means it can just about be squeezed into a large suit­case.

Water-shoes

Water-safe shoes are really use­ful for 2 reas­ons. Firstly because the sand on most beaches will be hot enough to burn your feet for most of the day in sum­mer, so some foot­wear is essen­tial. Whilst san­dals and flip-flops do a per­fectly good job on the beach, it is really handy being able to keep your shoes on when you reach the water, espe­cially if the ground is rocky under the sea as many of the clearest beaches are. Water shoes will also pro­tect you from acci­dent­ally step­ping on an anemone which can be pain­ful.

Lilo

A lilo is nice to float lazily on if the sea is calm, but don’t drift off and drift away! It can also be a lot of fun to battle over with friends — tip­ping each oth­er off. Don’t make the mis­take of lying on it on the beach though as you are almost cer­tain to punc­ture it.

Frisbee, bat & ball set

No mat­ter who you’re at the beach with, once the most intense heat has dropped off in the later after­noon it’s great to be able to play some games on the beach. There are lots of types of water-proof balls and friz­bees that float that can be thrown around or a bat and ball set.

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