Gavdos, Crete: The island of pristine beaches on the south of Chania region.
Gavdos Island, Crete, is the southernmost part of Greece. Gavdos is located about 50 kilometres south of Hora Sfakion. The only way you can get to this small island is by ferry from Hora Sfakion or Paleochora in south Chania.
Gavdos is a remote island in the South Crete Sea, or Liviko Pelagos, as it is called in Greece. But this remoteness is the main reason for its pristine charm. Indeed, in distant Gavdos you can find some of the most stunning beaches in Crete.
Gavdos has only about 100 permanent residents. However, during the summer months a few thousand people share this beautiful island.
Gavdos, Crete – An island as unique as its stunning nature
Gavdos has a roughly triangular shape and a total area of about 27 km². The island is made up of impressive rock formations, dunes, and magnificent beaches.
To the north west of Gavdos Island, there is a tiny island called “Gavdopoula”, or “Small Gavdos” in Greek.
The most especial beach in Gavdos Island is Tripiti. It is located on a rocky peninsula on the south-eastern part of the island, where a big natural arch has been carved in the rock by the water. This is where the name “Tripiti” comes from – it means “holed” in Greek. On top of Tripiti there is the sculpture of a big, oversized chair.
Another great beach, and the most known in the island of Gavdos, is Sarakiniko. Sarakiniko beach is located on the northeast of the island, about 2 km from Gavdos harbour. You can get to the beach on foot from the harbour in about 20 minutes. Sarakiniko is a marvellous, large sandy beach, where you can also find a couple of taverns and a mini market.
Generally, most of the beaches in Gavdos are pristine and beautiful. Keep in mind, though, that many of these beaches are popular among naturists.
Gavdos, Crete – A small island’s great history
As is the case with most unique places in Crete, Gavdos Island has a rich history that never fails to surprise the visitor.
The island of Gavdos was inhabited from the Neolithic age. The island flourished during Roman and Byzantine years, when it had a permanent population of a few thousand people. A remarkable incident about Gavdos is mentioned in Acts 27:16: When Apostle Paul left Crete for his final trip to Rome, his ship got off its course due to a storm, and passed through the lee of Gavdos for safety.
Unfortunately, during the Venetian era of Crete, the Venetians failed to protect Gavdos from the Saracen pirates, who occupied the island for a long period. During that troubled period, almost all local residents left the island of Gavdos, which became one of the prominent bases of operations for the Saracen pirates. The most known beach of Gavdos, Sarakiniko beach, has been called after them.
The island of Gavdos continued to play a role in the history of 20th century Greece, as well. The island in the 30s was used as a place of exile for Greek communists, during the dictatorship of General Metaxas in Greece. Also, during World War II, when the Nazi German troops won the Battle of Crete, the allied forces evacuated Crete towards the South using Gavdos as a transit station.
Gavdos, Crete, is a small island in south Chania, with a nature and atmosphere that you cannot find in any other island in Greece. It is a beautiful, pristine place, full of surprises for the visitor. Although remote and a bit difficult to reach, Gavdos Island is one of the characteristic places that you will remember long after your vacations to Crete.