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Not sure which Crete adventure is right for you? This post outlines the similarities and differences between two of our most popular itineraries.

Crete Kayak Adventure: Matala to Loutro

Crete Kayak Adventure: Matala Full Loop

What’s different?


Matala to Loutro (8 days/7 nights)

Matala Full Loop (8 days/7 nights)

This trip takes a moderate pace with only two hotel transfers. The last three days offer a variety of hiking, kayaking, and relaxation options.

This itinerary keeps you on the move throughout the week, allowing you to visit two additional towns and make two additional hotel transfers.

Matala: Nights 1, 2, 3

Agia Roumeli: Night 4

Loutro: Nights 5, 6, 7


Matala: Nights 1, 2

Agia Roumeli: Night 3

Loutro: Nights 4, 5

Plakias: Night 6

Agia Gallini: Night 7

Activity Level

Matala to Loutro: The last three days of this tour offers a variety of adventure options to choose from. Explore beautiful Marmara and Sweetwater Beaches, hike the Ariadne Gorge or up to a Greek monastery with breathtaking sea views, practice yoga by the sea, or simply relax and enjoy the view from your hotel balcony.

Matala full Loop: The Full Loop tour continues past the village of Loutro to the towns of Plakias and Agia Roumeli, with an open-water crossing back to Matala Bay on the final day. The last three days of this kayaking adventure include 40+ addition miles of kayaking, so you are sure to get your fill of the deep blue Libyan Sea.

Matala to Loutro

Matala Full Loop

Kayaking days averaging 2–4 hrs. total paddling time. Additional hiking opportunities on Days 6-7.

Kayaking days varying from 2–7 hrs. with an additional 40+ total kayaking miles covered.

Day 1:  Land-based activities

Day 2:  Orientation, 2–4 kayak hrs.

Day 3:  3–4 kayak hrs.

Day 4: Hike Samarian Gorge, 5–6 hrs. (optional)

Day 5:  3–4 kayak hrs.

Days 6-7:  2­–4 kayak hrs. or hiking options.

Day 8:  1 hr. kayak (optional)

Day 1:  Land-based activities

Day 2:  Orientation, 2–4 kayak hrs.

Day 3:  Hike Samarian Gorge, 5–6 hrs. (optional)

Day 4:  3–4 kayak hrs.

Day 5:  3–4 kayak hrs. or hiking options

Days 6-7;  5–7 kayak hrs. (opt out option in AM/ PM)

Day 8:   1 hr. open-water crossing (optional)

What’s the same?

Trip Highlights: Both trips take you to the unspoiled coast of Southern Crete. You’ll paddle the crystal blue waters of the Libyan Sea, visit secluded beaches, hike the dramatic Samarian Gorge, and explore the ruins of Venetian castles and Minoan palaces. Nights include star-filled skies, dining on delicious fresh local cuisine at seaside tavernas, and warm hospitality of our long-time Greek friends at intimate family-owned inns. Both trips are designed to provide an off-the-beaten path, authentic adventure experience.

Trip Length, Start/End, Meals: Both trips include 8 days and 7 nights’ accommodations, beginning and ending with pick-up and drop-off in Heraklion, Crete. Breakfasts and dinners included except for dinner on one night. Lunches and beverages not included.

Accommodations: All seven nights includes accommodations at comfortable family-owned inns in the most beautiful coastal towns of southern Crete.

World-Class Kayaking: Both adventures offer the opportunity to paddle past breathtaking forested and rock-cliff coastline, visit pristine beaches, and explore a variety of light and dark sea caves.


Intimate Local Experience: The Northwest Passage has been leading adventure travel on Crete for 35+ years. All our Crete adventures are built on the warm personal and professional relationships we’ve built with the friendly Cretan locals in all the towns we visit.

Samarian Gorge Hike: Both itineraries include an option to hike the famous Samarian Gorge. At 16 km long, it’s the longest gorge in Europe and offers spectacular mountains views at the top and towering gorge walls at its base. The historic 5-6 hour hike begins in the White Mountains at 1,250 meters and ends at the seaside town of Agia Roumeli where we spend the night. Thousands of visitors walk the Gorge each day, but our itinerary avoids the crowds to provide the most intimate gorge experience possible.


Ancient Historic and Mythological Sites of Crete: Prepare to adventure not only on land and sea but also through time. Crete offers a rich cultural history steeped in the ancient Minoan civilization (2700–1100 B.C.) Both trips include visits to the two main Minoan archeological sites on Crete: The Palace of Knossos in the north and the summer palace of Phaestos in the south.  This journey through history takes you to the chapel of the Apostle Paul, at the site of his shipwreck on Crete, and into Venetian and Turkish fortresses that still stand watch along our route. Interested in Greek mythology? Crete is the island of the Minotaur, Icarus and Daedalus, the original labyrinth, and Ariadne’s thread.  Zeus himself is said to have been born in a cave on one of Crete’s tallest mountains.

Dedicated, Expert Guides: Our Crete guides are chosen for their leadership and kayaking skill, local expertise, and love of Crete. They will lead you to the best spots at very best time to enjoy them. Safety is our bottom line and spinning the fun meter is our passion. All guides are professionally trained in kayak rescue and safety and are wilderness first-aid certified.

Equipment: Your sea kayak, paddle, PFD (life vest), and spray skirt are included. We offer both single and tandem sea kayaks in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit your skill level and preference.

Van Support: Both trips include full van support and luggage transport on each transfer day of the trip.

Still have questions? Contact us by email or phone. We’re happy to answer your questions.