Crete Island – Heraklion & Matala

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Day 1

Valley Village

bungalows-valley-villageThis is a 3 Star Hotel located very close to Matala. They have normal rooms and bungalows to choose from. Don’t let the 3 Star turn you away, this place is very nice! Bungalows area creates an atmosphere of a small village which is why they have named their hotel after it.

We had the pleasure of staying in a bungalow which was a great experience. Two bedrooms, large bathroom including jacuzzi and a nice garden. Very spacious, modern and exciting place.

Matala

matala-villagePreviously famous between hippies in the 60s & 70s. Who used to live in the caves and enjoy the relaxed Cretan lifestyle. This little Village has a great atmosphere, extensive amount of bars and restaurants, incredible beach and an interesting ancient Roman tombs right next to it. Perfect spot for those who love to go out, want to enjoy the beach and feel comfortable in a tiny community.

Restaurants & Meeting a Caveman

Along the coastline there is an endless line of restaurants and bars to choose from. Some are better than others like Smile Cafe or Hakuna Matata but it’s very fun to explore different places every day.

We went for lunch in the Eleni restaurant. We have ordered some squids and othcave-where-hippie-liveser seafood, then started to talk about our trip. Soon after there was a guy behind us who started talking to us.

His name was Kai and he was a German hippie who lived in Matala for over 30 years, all of which he had spent living in a cave. He explained that he preferred living in a cave as its very nice, better than a house according to Kai. We talked for a bit longer and then parted ways.

On our way to red beach we have seen the cave that he still lives in. See picture here…

Day 2

First Dive

diving-collageI was very excited and a bit nervous. Luckily I was the only one who signed up for the course this day which meant that I had a luxury of a private instructor just for myself.

A Cretan guy from Heraklion named Nikos explained me all the basic techniques which will allow me to stay under water and breathe. Some of those were sign language, cleaning water from the mask, finding my regulator under water. We have spent good 1 hour on the beach getting ready for the dive.

Soon we went under and practised the survival techniques, then got ready for the dive.

30 min dive, maximum depth of 5.4 metres. We explored the weeds under the water, followed fish, collected sea shells which you can see here.

It was a great success and I feel like diving may become one of the things I will carry on doing in the future on regular basis when I travel to warm places.

Matala Beach

matala-beachWhat a beautiful beach! Naturally surrounded by rocks on both sides it forms a port which prevents from the strong winds and keeps large waves reduced to the minimum. Water is crystal clear and you can see the bottom even when its 4-5 metres deep. It’s not a pure sand unfortunately, it does have some small rocks and pebbles.

It gets deep very quickly too, rocky surface underneath, you must know how to swim!

Day 3

Ancient Tombs

caves-matala-tombsNo one really knows for sure what those were, yet most likely it was Roman tombs dug into the rocks.

Lot’s of small chambers inside the rocky hill does look very impressive. It was done more than 2000 years ago by Romans. A truly fascinating landmark. Each cave looks different and some of them even have some arts as well. This is where the hippies used to live in the 60s – 70s. Possibly our friend Kai was a resident here too before it became a tourist attraction…

It is allowed to climb over and explore each and one of them, but it is a risky attraction. No safety rules or ropes anywhere. Climbing 10-20 metres above the ground without a safety may not be for everyone as one false step may lead to a long and painful fall…

Cliff Dive

I was lucky enough to discover the way to the top of the perfect cliff for diving. It took me a good 300 metres swim from the beach, then climb on the rocks and go more or less about 11 metres above the ground.

As I am not experienced, I would have not jumped but there were some guys joining me soon after. Because of the clear water it’s possible to see 4-5 metres deep. I knew if I can not see the bottom that means it was deeper than 10 metres, which is more than enough for the safe dive.

Then all I had to do was to go over my fear. Which was indeed the most difficult part. But then I remembered what Richard Branson said and went for it…

“Screw it, Let’s do it!”Richard Branson

One hell of a challenge that was, then I jumped a few more times, got quiet confident and happy that I could overcome my fear.

Red Beach

red-beach-matalaThis place has red / yellow sand, only a few people around and its nudist friendly too.

Very remote and only accessible through the sea or climbing over the mountain. We had scaled the hill which took about 20 minutes and indeed it was no easy task. Good shoes and being fit is a must.

Day 4

Heraklion

Heraklion-city-centreSmlCapital of Crete and the largest city in the island. A very lively place, buzzing with tourists and locals. Great place for shopping, exploring and enjoying the buzz of the people. Great night life, busy streets and full of things to do for a day or two.

Fortress & Port

A huge landmark and a nice place to jog or walk. Unfortunately fortress is closed for the renovation at the moment.

Garra Rufa Fish Pedicure

This was a funky experience. Take off the shoes, stick your feet into the water tank and have some fish to eat the dead skin of your feet… It felt uncomfortable for the first few minutes but then it was kind of nice tickling once got used to it.

Day 5

Heraklion Beach

Kalamaki-beachVery windy but well established beach. Wind shields were there to save the day. A nice and relaxing place, probably could be busy during the summer time.

Escape Room – Game Master

Finally we played the riddle game, searching for answers and solving issues to get ourselves out of the locked room in 60 minutes. Unfortunately we have failed to escape in time yet it was a great experience indeed.

1 Response
  • Daiva Sabaliauskiene
    May 19, 2016

    I wish I were there now 🙂

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