Crete Kayak, Climbing and Hiking Adventure
Based on double occupancy. Single supplement applies.
8 days, 7 nights
Based on double occupancy. Single supplement applies.
Consider this our Classic Crete Kayaking trip, with an added dimension - up. The island of Crete is a place we know better than any other, and it has been inspiring us for decades. On this trip, we will experience a new side to Crete, exploring not only from the water, but from the land as well; hiking and rock climbing our way to vantage points not yet seen on any Northwest Passage adventure.
This trip is an exploratory adventure and some variations from the proposed itinerary are possible. This is an adventure appropriate for all skill levels. You will soon find our world class guides are always ready to teach, and more than happy to challenge!
Day 1: Our trip officially begins in the morning at the Heraklion Airport where Northwest Passage staff will meet you. Exact meeting time will be determined once flight schedules from Athens to Heraklion have been finalized. From the airport, we will head to Knossos, the mysterious ancient Minoan palace just outside Heraklion. We will then enjoy a scenic drive acoss Crete down to the beach town of Matala on the south coast. There will be an optional kayak instruction session, and we'll enjoy welcome drinks while viewing the incredible sunset and make our introductions. Over our first delightful dinner together at an authentic Greek taverna, we will review the itinerary for the week and answer whatever questions you may have.
Day 2: After breakfast, we will outfit everyone with paddle, PFD and sprayskirt, then head across the street to the beach where we will offer basic kayaking instruction. The protected bay in Matala provides us with a perfect spot for instruction, surrounded by the famous caves - legendary homes to Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and others in the 1960s. There may be an opportunity for rock climbing today in the local Asterousia Mountains nearby. Back at Matala, there will be options for cliff-jumping into the bay and our highly recommended Sunset HIke. We’ll end the day with a great meal (as always) and a chance to experience the rousing night life of Matala.
Day 3: We’ll get an early start today in order to stop and visit the breathtaking site of the Minoan Palace of Phaistos on our way to the trailhead for the Samaria Gorge. The Samaria Gorge is a “must see” for every visitor to Crete; this incredible national park draws thousands of visitors each day. We have designed our itinerary to be able to experience the Gorge after the vast majority of hikers have already headed down. While most visitors to the Gorge rush to catch the last ferry, we will spend the night in Agia Roumeli, a charming and traditional town where the Gorge ends. We’ll celebrate our accomplishments with a wonderful dinner on the seaside terrace of our hotel on the beach, and we will fall asleep to the soothing sound of the sea. In the morning, we'll awaken to the gentle dinging of goat bells from the herds on the hillside.
Day 4: As the ascending sun brightens the cliffs along the bay, we will depart from Roumeli in our kayaks, heading along the coastline to Agios Pavlos for our cappuccino stop. The small 10th Century chapel built in honor of St. Paul is a remarkable site and traditionally wonderful photo opportunity. From Agios Pavlos, we’ll continue along the coastline to Marmara Beach, one of our prettiest lunch stops offering additional cliff-jumping opportunities from the wind-carved marble rocks. We then paddle to the water-access-only town of Loutro where we will spend two nights. Rounding the point to catch your first glimpse of this idyllic town has been a highlight of the trip for all past participants. We won’t ruin the moment by saying any more now- you’ll just have to see for yourself!
Day 5: Today is a day with multiple options. From Loutro, we may continue up the coastline to Sweetwater Beach where the freshwater springs bubbling out of the sand provide a unique experience. After stretching our legs, enjoying a refreshing swim and a cup of cappuccino, we can paddle on to Hora Sfakia for our lunch stop before paddling back to Loutro. There is also the option of a challenging all-day hike up into the traditional villages in the hills with some rock-climbing opportunities. We'll be descending through the beautiful Aradena Gorge before walking back to Loutro through ancient olive groves. Then we join up for another Sunset Hike to a uniquely beautiful spot on the coast, followed by dinner at one of the excellent bayside tavernas.
Day 6: You will have an option today to paddle to Hora Sfakia or to hike the trail which follows the coastline. We will then continue paddling or shuttle by van along the coast to the Venetian-era fortress at Frangokastello for a brief tour before continuing our journey along the coast to the town of Plakias, which boasts beachside cliffs which may be too tempting to pass up. While not large by any standard, Plakias provides some upbeat nightlife and great shopping opportunities as well as the chance to visit one of our favorite bakeries on the island (the “Cretan Specialty” is another highlight of the trip!). Dinner is on your own tonight to give you a choice of the numerous restaurant possibilities in town as well as a chance to set your own schedule for the evening, including the chance to dance at local nightclubs. But remember it's an early paddling morning tomorrow!
Day 7: Heading out from Plakias, our next stop is Palm Beach, where native Cretan palms line a picturesque stream which joins with the sea. An optional short paddle up the inland freshwater creek provides a glimpse of river turtles, local birds, and dragonflies. Our lunch stop today is near Trio Petra beach, renowned for its beautiful rock formations. After lunch, we will paddle on to the beach at Agios Pavlos. At this point, you can opt to shuttle the last section or paddle the final 7-mile stretch (making total mileage for the day 18 miles!). In the evening, we will celebrate with a final dinner overlooking the harbor at Agia Galini.
Day 8: Those wishing to complete the paddling circle may choose to launch early in the morningand paddle across the bay from Agia Galini into Matala (approximately 8 miles in an open water crossing). Others will sleep a little later and van to Matala where we will have a brief stop to pick up any luggage you may have chosen to leave at the hotel, unload boats, and do any last minute shopping. The van will depart for Heraklion between 11 a.m. and noon, giving time for a visit the renowned Heraklion Archaeological Museum before catching late afternoon flights back to Athens.
**This itinerary is subject to change. As with all adventure travel, some activities are dependent on appropriate wind and water conditions. But fear not -we have many alternative activities available in case the weather is not cooperative.
Heraklion is the largest city and the capital of the Island of Crete. Heraklion is placed as the fifth largest city in Greece. Heraklion was announced as Europe’s fastest growing tourism destination for 2017. In 2018 Heraklion had 3.4 million visitors.
History Trivia: The present city of Heraklion was founded in 824.