A Guide to Preveli Beach in Crete

Preveli is a famous beach on the south side of Crete Island. Crete is the biggest island in Greece, and it attracts visitors because it is a place where you can find everything, from modern cities and exotic beaches to gorges and big mountains. 

The local legend says that the mythological king Odysseus stopped in Preveli on the way to his homeland, Ithaka. 

What makes Preveli beach so famous is the palm forest surrounding the river, which comes from a gorge and ends up in the sea. The exotic beauty of nature attracted in the 60s and 70s hippies from around the globe who used to live here and make huts under the palm trees. 

Due to the sensitivity of nature around Preveli Beach, the area is protected by the Natura 2000, and it is a natural reserve. 

If you plan a trip to the area of Rethymno, this place should be on the top of your list. In this article, you will find all the information you might need to organize your excursion to Preveli beach. 

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Visiting Preveli Palm Beach in Crete

Discovering Preveli Beach

Arriving at the beach from the path that descends from the mountain, you see a breath-taking view; a river comes down from the gorge forming a 500-meter lake at the level of the beach. This gorge is called Kourtaliotis Gorge, and the river that runs in it is called Megalos Potamos.

At the banks of the river, there is a palm forest. The palms are of the kind of Theophrastus, and they create thick shade that protects the visitors from the sun. Under the palm trees, you can see people resting and children playing, around the water that flows playfully.

The river exits into the sea right at the beautiful beach of Preveli. The beach is sandy, with pebbles. The waters are cold due to the river. 

The flora around the beach creates natural shade and attracts people who spend their day at the beach. 

At one end of the beach, a few meters from the shore is a big rock in the sea that looks like a heart or a mushroom, and it is a favorite spot for pictures. In general, the photogenic landscape of Preveli Beach attracts photographers and influencers who want to take photos for social media. 

You can swim in the salty seawater in the lake, under the palm trees. You can also walk in the canyon, under the shade of palm trees.

You might be interested in: From Rethymno: Full-Day Land Rover Safari to Preveli.

Services at Preveli Beach

Preveli beach is protected by the Natura 2000 program, which prohibits human intervention at the beach. There are no facilities, showers, or toilets, and it isn’t organized with sunbeds and umbrellas. 

There is, however, a canteen at the one end of the beach, where you can get snacks and drinks. There are a few tables and chairs around there. It is convenient because you can find basic things that you might need like water or food. 

Even though there are no other facilities, you can find a few taverns a bit further, on the road that leads to Preveli, and close to the beach Drimiskiano Ammoudi. 

Things to discover around Preveli Beach

A place of interest close to the beach is the historical monastery of Preveli. The whole area took its name from that monastery, built in the 16th century. It is dedicated to Saint John the Theologian and has been a religious and cultural center for years.

It also played a crucial role in the wars for the independence of Crete throughout history. Today the monastery has male monks, but both men and women can visit it. 

The first location of the monastery was more to the north and was called Kato Moni. Today the older installation is abandoned, and the monks live in the new monastery called Piso Moni.  

Inside the Rear (Piso) Monastery of Preveli
Inside the Rear (Piso) Monastery of Preveli

At Piso Moni, there is a small museum with historical relics. The museum is open to visitors during the opening hours of the monastery. 

How to get to Preveli Beach

View of Preveli beach as we descend
View of Preveli beach as we descend

Preveli Beach is on the south side of Crete, 35 km away from Rethymno. It is 10 km away from the famous beach Plakias.

Access to Preveli Beah is not possible, as there is no parking area. There are four alternatives.

The easiest is to take the taxi boat from Plakias or Agia Galini to Preveli. It departs during the day and leaves you at the beach from where it picks you up in the afternoon. 

If you come by car, drive to the Monastery of Kato Preveli and after 1.5 km, stop at the parking space. Take the path that leads to the beach after 15-20 minutes of walking. The signs help you find the entrance to the pathway. The benefit of this choice is that you get to see the gorge from above, and the view is enchanting.

However, if you choose to follow this pathway you need to have sneakers, sunscreen, a hat, and water. The sun during summer is hot, and there are no trees on the way. Keep in mind that even though going down the path is quite fun and easy, the ascend can be challenging if you are not used to hiking. 

An alternative itinerary is to drive to Drimiskiano Ammoudi, the beach next to Preveli. Leave the car there and walk a five-minute path to the beach. You might not get the view that the long pathway offers, but you get the convenience of being at the beach faster and effortlessly. 

Finally, you can do a full-day Land Rover Safari to Preveli beach from Rethymno.

Where to stay in Preveli Beach

Due to the sensitive nature of the area, there are no hotels or guest houses next to the beach. However, in the surrounding area, there are a lot of places to stay. Most of them are next to other beaches, especially around Plakias beach, a popular destination for tourists. 

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