Style: Freeride, Freestyle, Slalom
Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Good, Specialist
Crete is a superb choice for a windsurfing holiday to experience the 'real Greece'. The fourth largest island in the Mediterranean. On the eastern edge of Crete, you will find Palekastro, a small village located in the middle of Kouremenos bay. It’s a genuine authentic Greek village, where you don’t find mass tourism. It can offer just what a village can do. A taste of simple life, tradition, friendly locals, moments of pleasure. It’s a typically Cretan village, where you can escape for a while.
Kouremenos is the main windsurfing spot in the East of Crete. It is also ideal spot for medium and higher level kitesurfers.
Medium Months: January, February, March, April, November, December
Wind Type: Thermal Winds, Local Winds
Best Direction: N, NW
Worst Direction: NE
Wind Factor: 11-16 knots (4 bft), 17-21 knots (5 bft), 22-27 knots (6 bft)
Main Wind Direction: Side Shore, Side Offshore
Blowing at: Morning, Midday
Wave Tack: Port (from the left)
Around Palekastro, the “Meltemi” increases its power through the local thermal and funneling effect that gives the ground wind an additional 2 bft, especially if it’s from the W or NNW. This makes Kouremenos beach one of the windiest spots in the whole of Europe. When in this spot you don’t have to worry about the wind forecast, it’s windy almost every day. The wind is gusty! This is also why the largest windmill generators park in Greece is in the surrounding area.
The wind blows cross-shore from April to October over the long sandy beach at this freeride paradise on the dry but extremely windy east coast. Local thermals and an up-valley effect regularly accelerate the wind to force 6-7 bft, with most used sail sizes of between 4.5 and 5.3. It starts to build from around 09:00 to reach its strongest point just after midday. Usually it’s windy the whole day and from 17:00 on the wind eases a bit and tends to get “smoother”.
Quality: Crystal Clear
Depth: Deep (deepens abruptly)
Seabed: Sand, Pebbles
The bay offers perfect flat-water conditions near the shore. This means it is quite gusty and light wind initially but soon cleans up into great flat water blasting conditions. Outside there’s some nice chop for jumping, gybe’s practice and freestyle moves. If you are a beginner, have attention to the size of the sail that you will choose. You cannot easily see the strength of the wind from the beach. If the wind direction’s more N than NW, some waves make it into the bay too.
The beach is shelving slowly. 200m to the right of the station it is rocky. If you do break something the bay is enclosed enough so that you won’t drift out to sea.
Bathers Period: August
Kid Friendly: Yes
The beach is the longest in the area with a length exceeding 1,5 Km, bounded on the north by the Cape Tenta and on the south by the Cape Plaka. It has fine brown sand, untouched natural beauty with characteristic Tamarisk trees and unique landscapes. A very peaceful and unspoilt beach and a very safe spot.
Arrival on Kouremenos:
Kouremenos is located 89 km east of Agios Nikolaos and 20 km east of Sitia, just 2,5 km east of Palekastro. It is easily accessible; the airport is located next to city centre and also ships coming to and from Sitia very often. There is also ferry service in Heraklion Port twice a day. The distance from Heraklion is about 148 km (2,5 hours).
More details: The fastest and easiest way to get to Kouremenos is by car. Drive from Sitia to the far North Easterly point of Crete; Palekastro. The roads are generally in good condition and the average driving time is about only 25 minutes. Then further east to Kouremenos Beach. Alternatively, there are buses from Heraklion and Sitia to Palekastro. The spot is approximately a 20 minute stroll through the olive groves from Palekastro village.
Access to Crete:
Arrival by Airplane: Millions of visitors come to Crete every year from all over the world directly by plane, especially by charter. The three international airports on the island, in Heraklion, Chania and Sitia are linked to hundreds of other international airports. The largest low cost companies have regular flights to Crete and the most important international airlines organize charter flights. If you take your own equipment, it’s best to reserve this in advance.
Airport at Heraklion: It is the primary airport on the island of Crete and the country’s second busiest airport after Athens International Airport. It is located about 5 km east of the main city center of Heraklion, near the municipality of Nea Halicarnassus. It is a shared civil/military facility. The airport is named after Heraklion native Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek writer and philosopher. Nikos Kazantzakis Airport is Crete’s main and busiest airport, serving Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, Malia, Hersonissos, Stalida, Elounda and other resorts.
Airport at Chania: Located on the Northwestern part of the island, the airport is also known as the “K. Daskalogiannis” Airport. This international airport is situated near Souda Bay, on the peninsula of Akrotiri, serving the city of Chania (14 km away). Moreover, it is a gateway to western Crete for an increasing amount of tourists. It is a joint civil–military airport. It is much smaller and far less busy than Heraklion airport. The airport is connected with many countries (about 30) from Europe and Asia especially in summer season and with flights connections in Greece and Cyprus whole year.
A new public airport in Sitia: it is a small community airport in the region Bonda of Sitia Municipality, on the eastern part of Crete, located 1 km north/northwest of the city center. The facility is serving the city of Sitia, currently only with a small number of domestic flights, mainly to/from Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos with an internal flight. The flight time from Athens to Sitia is 55 minutes. Also from Rhodes Island, with stops Karpathos and Kassos flight time and 120 minutes. Fly from Alexandroupolis during 105 minutes, from Preveza to over 100 minutes and from Heraklion during 25 minutes.
Inland airport at Kasteli: There are long term plans to replace Heraklion airport, which is too close to the city, by a new inland airport at Kasteli, southeast of Heraklion. It is a small airport located at the edge of Heraklion. It has basic facilities and a small parking lot.
Almost all scheduled international flights transit through Athens (which take about 45min) where you must take a scheduled domestic flight to Chania or Heraklion. These are quite frequent (around 6 to 8 times a day to Chania and more to Heraklion). During the months of July and August there are flights from Thessaloniki to Heraklion and Chania (they take about 90 minutes). The airport at Heraklion also has daily flights to Rhodes which takes 1 hour. From April till early November charter airlines fly directly to Heraklion and Chania from many European airports.
Arrival by Ferry/Boat: If you are already in Greece and specifically in Athens, you can continue your journey to Crete not only by plane but even by ferryboat from Piraeus. Athens airport offers good public transport connections to the city center as well as to the port of Piraeus. The three biggest ports of Crete, Heraklion, Rethymno and Chania have dozens of luxury ferry boats linking them with Greece’s largest port, Piraeus, on a daily basis. You can also go from Piraeus to Crete to Agios Nikolaos or Sitia Ports and from Thessaloniki to Heraklion.
The regular ferryboat service from the port of Piraeus to Heraklion and Chania is that ships depart every evening around 8.00 or 8.30 (times vary a little depending on the season) and arrive very early morning (generally between 5.00 or 6.00 am). Avoid weekends and especially the beginning and end of holidays. If you want a cabin it is often safer to book in advance.
Ferryboat from Peloponnese: South Peloponnese (Gythion, Neapolis or Kalamata) and Kythira Island is connecting to Kastelli/Kissamos (45 km west of Chania). Timetables are rather erratic (and very difficult to find) but it is an option if you want to spend time on the Peloponnese or simply avoid Athens.
Ferryboat from Cyclades and Dodecanese: From April to October you can also get boats from Cycladic Islands to Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos. There are daily catamarans (hydrofoils) to Santorini and the trip takes about 2,5 hours. Also Rhodes, Karpathos, Kasos and Milos from the ports of Sitia, Agios Nikolaos and Kissamos.
Since there are no roads along the southwest coast there is a ferry line with connections between Paleochora, Sougia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro and Hora Sfakion (Sfakia). There is also a connection with the islet of Gavdos, Europe's southernmost point (Cape Tripiti).
Ferryboat from Italy: Several shipping companies connect Italy (Trieste, Ancona, Bari, and Brindisi) with the mainland of Greece (Patras and Igoumenitsa). It is preferable to book your passage in advance in the summer season.
Arrival by Car, Moto, Camper Van: Be careful when driving in Crete; despite the fact that most roads (including the new National Highway) are full of twists and turns through mountains, Cretans usually drive aggressively, fast, and on the edge of safety. In rural and mountainous areas (which is almost everywhere), there can be goats, sheep, donkeys, and stray dogs on the roads.
Overland to Greece: Traveling to Greece overland has virtually stopped since the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. The alternative through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria takes so long that it is not worth thinking about unless you want to visit these countries. The only option if you want to come by car or bike is by ferry from Italy.
For those who don’t have their own means of transport, there is of course always the possibility to rent a car or a camper which will allow you to explore the island on its modern network of roads. Taxi services are another way to get around Crete, but can be quite expensive.
Arrival by Bus: Most of the bus services are run by KTEL (around 200 intercity modern buses of all sizes) conducts hundreds of routes daily, thus linking the major cities of the island with all the settlements, but also with the rest of Greece within a framework of combined transportations. Public transportation is fairly frequent and timetables quite trustworthy. Bus drivers usually divert from their marked routes to enter little villages if asked to do so. Bus services along the north coast and towards the south coast are excellent, reliable, frequent and cheap.
Cretan bus stations are very simple for the most part, except for in Heraklion which has two major bus stations (one for buses going in town and one for KTEL run buses).
On foot: Although Crete is the largest of all Greek islands; you can get around on foot. Especially the countryside in the western part of Crete offers some rough country walking and there are good paths between Chania and Chora Sfakion. These go via forests with cypress, evergreen oak and cypress, various gorges and of course olive and orange groves. This part of Crete is good for walking holidays.