Before our recent trip to Greece begins to fade into our collective traveling memories I thought I should add one more venue to my recent post about naked beach combing on the Greek Islands. We have been to Sweetwater Beach on the south shore of Crete twice – and this second time, we got it right. Given the breathtaking location, I think it deserves its own post.
For starters, you really gotta want to get there. The beach is located on a little cove half way between Chora Sfakion and Loutro. Both of our visits were day trips from the nearby Vritomartis Hotel. The first time we did it the hard way, walking up the coastal road from the village until you come to a sign that points to Sweetwater Beach, essentially sending you off the curve in the road and straight down a cliff. From there, it’s a truly breathtaking (aka: scary) walk along a narrow path carved into the side of a steep cliff. (Who makes those paths, by the way? That’s one crazy job!) This time, we were a little more methodical. For 20 euro, we were able to hire a water taxi out of the village port at 8:30 in the morning, which put us on the beach about two hours before all the scheduled boat arrivals. Nice! There were a few folks who had walked in earlier, and a really nice guy from Sweden who seemed to be camping on the beach. (No restrooms on the beach, by the way.) As the regular boats starting arriving around 10:30, the little taverna opened as well, just in time for brunch and a beer. I think the taverna people run the sun-lounger and umbrella business, with a clear distinction of “you can be naked down here, but not in these other ones closer to the taverna.” There was a nice mix of naked and not, younger and not, tan lines and none. The way I always wish American beaches could be.
The water was clear and calm during our visit, which made for great swimming. I was particularly envious of the people who thought to bring a floaty or a raft. We were smart enough to bring water shoes, a definite necessity at this pebbly beach. But the real defining characteristic of this beach are the little springs that well up along the shore. The deal is; you go for a swim, feel the salt crusting up on your skin, and walk over to the spring where someone before you has filled a bucket with fresh water to warm in the sun so you can douse yourself and rinse off the sea grit and salt. Then you refill the bucket for the next person.
We parked our lounge chairs under the trees near the cliff, took a post-brunch snooze, then headed off by foot for about an hour walk along the sea – not nearly as precarious as the one along the cliff – on to Loutro, a picturesque little village with several restaurants where you can sit on the harbor, cool down, and have “second lunch.” During both visits, I have wondered who you might piss off if you decided go walk the beach path naked. We only passed two other people during our trek, and they were about to encounter naked people at Sweetwater anyway. But alas, we bit the bullet and took the risk of acquiring tan lines.
From Loutro, there is regular ferry service back to Chora Sfakion until about 6:00 pm, after which you could hire a water taxi back to your starting point, but I’m guessing that would cost a good bit more than 20 euro. From all I can gather, Crete is among the most naturist friendly of all the Greek islands, especially in this region of the southern coast.
It’s a must do. Put it on your bucket list.