Acres of polythene greenhouses make for an unattractive first impression of Falasarna on the west coast of Crete.The road along the cliff gives views of the coastal plain covered in scruffy greenhouses for growing tomatoes and cucumbers. Once on Falasarna beach however the agri-industrial scene is replaced by one of the most attractive beaches in Western Crete.
Beautiful bays of white sand notch the coast at Falasarna, interspersed with rock pools and sheltered shallows. The west-facing sands are well sheltered and there are pleasant walks along the coast among the rocks. The beach is exposed to northerly and westerly winds which makes it very attractive to windsurfers.
Tavernas, bars and cafes have sprung up but these are confined to the Falasarna cliff tops, so the beaches remain unspoiled. The beach has plenty of sunbeds but there are many area.
There are two bars and cafés on the beach, providing snacks, water or coffee. Beach parties are often organised in the evening, so don't be in a hurry to leave — the fun begins as the sun goes down, with what is admittedly one of the most impressive sunsets in Crete.
The Falasarna cliffs are low it's not too much of a trek for a meal break and one taverna owner has even constructed a bizarre walkway of wood and rope.
Sun loungers and parasols sit on the Falasarna sands located close to the cafes. Detritus in some coves are a reminder that Falasarna is popular with ad-hoc campers.
The sands at Falasarna are mostly clean and pleasant however. Shoreside walks reveal large rocks pools and shallows, making this a safe place for children.
There are some archaeological sites here but they are widely dispersed and difficult to find. A 2km dirt road runs up the rocky outcrop to the remains of an ancient acropolis.
There are some scant remains of the ancient city seaport of Polyrinia with walls and foundations of houses built in Ottoman to Venetian times. Falasarna was once a serious rival to Polyrinia but suffered a massive earthquake in the 6th century.
The road out of Falasarna leads to the mountain village of Platanos which has a couple of pleasant cafes. The less pleasant tomato farms can generate lorry traffic on the very narrow roads.
The city of Rethymnon on the north coast of Crete is packed with colourful parades and impromptu street parties in a celebration that has been running more than 100 years.
An intricate mosaic of pebble and stone cover a complex of buildings at Koumos, including a taverna and even a chapel, in an architectural extravaganza that will take your breath away.
Also, among the weapons on display at the Arkadi Monastery are some of those used in the famous siege, including flintlock rifles and long-barrelled pistols as well muskets.
Crete may be a holiday hotspot today but the islands was once the scene of a ferocious firefight between Allied troops and German paratroopers now buried in war cemeteries.