Gavdos Island, south of Crete, Greece

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Gavdos is quickly becoming a fleeting memory of everything that was good about the age of nomadic hippies camping naked on the beach! There’s still a bit of that to be found on this remote island, but more and more tourists have found this amazing hideaway as well. Bummer! We’ve been twice. Once on a day trip, then later for a stay lasting the better part of a week. You can be naked on the beach almost anywhere (if you avoid the crowded ones with families) and I found little reason to wear clothes when walking the long trails through the scrubby brush toward the sea. You could walk naked for hours each day. This is not a luxury resort kind of place, but the legendary “naked Greece” people talk about from decades ago.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET THERE? As far as I know, there are only two. A small ferry (maybe 20 passengers, max) sails from the port of Chora Sfakia most summer days if the weather is cooperative, while a car ferry sails from that same port, or from Palaiochora – in each case, one or two days a week. But here’s the rub! If the water is too rough, the boat doesn’t go, which makes it a bit tricky to reserve a room on the island as you can’t be totally sure when/if your boat will sail. We had good luck in each direction, but made sure we had a Plan B on each end in case we got stranded. Having rented a jeep on Crete, that was an excellent vehicle for getting around the island, noting that there are no gas stations on the island, so you need to plan accordingly. Then again – the island is less than 20 miles long.

WHAT’S THE FAMILY VIBE? We saw a lot of families on Gavdos, though none of them were naked. The family areas were the places you were most likely to get the stink-eye for taking off your clothes, and in mid-summer, that crowd can easily overwhelm the island. Other than that, there’s no reason not to bring the kids along, especially if they enjoy hiking and exploring a new beach every day, but ours would have surely found that to be a little under-stimulating. This is a very quiet, chillax kind of place.

HOW ARE THE ACCOMMODATIONS? There are several little inns on the island with simple accommodations, and typically, with a taverna attached. To my knowledge, none of these are designated as naturist, though our innkeeper was fine with us being naked on our private terrace. Don’t expect a swimming pool with a swim-up bar! And since the options are limited, inn-keepers can afford to charge a good bit more than you’d expect to pay at a similar place on Crete or mainland Greece. Supply and demand!

ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW? I adore Gavdos, and can’t wait to get back, if only for the naked trekking alone. (My wife was less willing to hike naked, not wanting to offend the locals. But we didn’t pass many people on our walks, and those we did seemed unoffended by me.) Again, provisions are limited on the island, but there are many tavernas, usually near the beach, frequently with little stores attached to meet your basic needs. Click through the links below to read our full narrative review about Gavdos, as well as that by a travel writer who documents her time there, including a link near that bottom of her page that takes you to a guide of all the naturist beaches (she could find) on and around Crete, including Gavdos.

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