Crete Kayaking Expedition
8 days, 7 nights
Heraklion, Crete Greece
Incredible coastline, spectacular sunsets, warm waters in tremendously varied shades of blue and green, amazing sea caves, cliff jumping for all confidence levels, never-ending sunshine, phenomenal food, an opportunity to see the Crete that few tourists see. The Northwest Passage has been touring Crete by kayak, bicycle, and foot since 1992, and in the process, we have developed this world class expedition.
Day 2: After breakfast, we’ll get an early start on the water and make our South, paddling most of the length of the Western coast, before pulling up on a secluded beach to make our first home-cooked dinner of the trip. If all goes well, we’ll be sleeping under a clear sky packed with stars.
Day 3: We’ll be doing a simple breakfast on the beach again, and taking off early to take full advantage of the generally calmer morning waters. It will be a short paddle to Elafonissi (one of Crete’s most iconic beaches) where we will spend a couple hours taking it in. Once leaving Elafonissi, we’ll round the corner of the island and begin our journey along the Southern coast. We’ll choose one of several secluded beaches to relax on for the night and gear up for a long hike tomorrow.
Day 4: We’ll get an early start today to make the short paddle to the town of Sougia. Where we’ll get a shuttle up to the trailhead of the Samaria Gorge, This 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 on the sea where the Gorge ends. Your kayaks and gear will meet you there, where we’ll stay for the evening and enjoy dinner in a local taverna.
Day 5: As the ascending sun brightens the cliffs along the bay, we will depart from Roumeli in our kayaks. 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 have a late lunch, before continuing on to our camping spot at the idyllic Sweetwater Beach, named after the freshwater springs that come up right at the base of the cliffs.
Day 6: Today will be one of our longer paddling days, and there is a lot to see as we make our way more than 20km along the coast. We’ll have regular stops along the way, including the Venetian fortress of Frangokastello. Our beach camping spot for the night is nestled into a small canyon filled with palm trees, with a freshwater river coming down to the sea. It is aptly named Palm Beach.
Day 7: Having a well established morning routine by now, we’ll have a simple breakfast and get on the water. Our destination will depend on the coming weather, but the total paddling distance will be shorter than yesterday. We’ll stop for lunch near Trio Petra beach, renowned for its beautiful rock formations, and after, paddle on to the beach at Agios Pavlos. At this point we’ll either continue along the coast to cmp for the night, or make an 6-mile crossing to the small islands of Paximadia to spend our last night.
Day 8: Regardless of where we camped the night before, our last leg of the adventure will be an open water crossing to the town of Matala, home base of The Northwest Passage on Crete, surrounded by the famous caves - legendary homes to Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and others in the 1960s. Upon arriving in Matala, our adventure will come to an end. We’ll grab an early lunch and rinse off before departing for Heraklion between around noon, to catch late afternoon flights.