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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-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.
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.