A Locals Guide for Beaches in Greece

SUMMER IS HERE! And so are all the summer activities! Whether you love hiking, camping, wine tasting, bike riding, boating, snorkeling or scuba diving, we can all agree on one thing:

hitting the beach is what summer is all about!

seitan lamani secret beach cliff diving
Seitan Lamani (secret beach) cliff diving

And when you think of the Greek Islands, Mediterranean beaches are pretty much the #1 thought that pops into your head… at least it is for me.

little girl in Elafonissi
Little girl in Elafonissi

There are so many beaches in Greece (with over 2000 islands, that’s pretty obvious) and millions of people from all over the world travel to Greece just to stick their toes in the sand and gaze out past the ombre blue horizon.

looking out to Kissamos
Looking out to Kissamos Beach, Crete

However, most visitors don’t “do the beach” quite like the locals do… and that’s why I’m here: to give ya the ins and outs so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb and to show you how it’s really done!

octopus in seitan lamani
Octopus in Seitan Lamani, Crete (He kindly put the little fella back in the water shortly after this photo was taken)

#1. “Let’s go to the beach tomorrow at 9 a.m.!”, said no one ever. Other than tourists and maybe a Greek family or two (of course with small children), no one – literally not one single person – hits the beach before noon. It’s like taboo or something.

Dan and Jessica in Elafonissi
Dan and Jessica in Elafonissi

Popular touristy beaches, like Elafonissi or Balos, will have plenty of people heading out to set up their towels and umbrellas early; however more secluded places that have less tourist traffic are simply deserted before 12 o’ clock. And after 2? Forget planning on getting an open spot to sit. It’s CROWDED! Best bet is to arrive around 11-12, lay out your towel and watch the crowds come in.

Jessica diving in at Loutraki
Jessica diving in at Loutraki (photo taken in the Spring; hence no crowds)

#2. So I said towels and umbrellas above. Yeah… so, most beaches (actually I’d say all of them with the exception of a few – at least on Crete) have stationary, pre-set up lounge chairs with fixated umbrellas. Which is great because it gets bloody hot out in the Mediterranean and you will definitely burn if you’re not careful. (See #5)

Beach Umbrellas in Kalathas Beach

However, there is a catch – they can charge you whatever they want (depending on the chair renters lease) which is usually anywhere from 3 euros a chair to 15 euros for a pair. And it’s cash only, so be prepared.

friends at Cabana Mare in Platanias Beach
Friends at Cabana Mare in Platanias Beach

#3. Towel clips. They’re a thing, and they rock! Just like if you’re hanging the laundry, these towel clips come in handy when it gets windy – and trust me, it can get super windy on a beautiful, hot beach day.

bougainvilla at the beach
Bougainvilla at the beach

You can pick them up at any small souvenir shop or local grocery store. Plus, they’re super inexpensive – only like 2-4 euros for a pack of four. And you definitely won’t stand out, since pretty much the entire Greek population uses them – men and woman alike.

boating to sweetwater beach
Boating to Sweetwater beach

#4. Iced Coffee. More specifically, a freddo cappuccino. It’s the go-to summer drink in the Mediterranean. You’ll see them on every table anywhere you go.

Tina relaxing in Loutro
Tina relaxing in Loutro

The Greeks don’t really drink alcohol much during the day, if at all. (Nighttime is a different story.) And it’s safe to say that if you’re a day drinker, you may get some stares. Not in a bad way though. Sometimes you’ll see some people ordering a beer or two (I’ve even seen a few groups of friends ordering a bucket of beer or a bottle of liquor depending on the situation or if there’s an event) – but for the most part, it’s coffee that plays a massive role in a local Greeks life.

Freddo Cappuccino in Greece
Freddo cappuccino in Greece

#5. It’s all about Greek yogurt. It’s delicious, nutritious, creamy, cold… aaaaand gets rid of sunburns. What?! Yup! Slather that baby all over your body after a long, hot day in the sun, let it sit for about 10 minutes, shower it off and Viola! Your soon-to-be sunburn has turned into lush, dark, golden skin. It’s quite amazing, actually – and quite creative.

Al and Jessica in Elafonissi
Al and Jessica in Elafonissi

Now of course you probably wouldn’t do this back home. It would be like a 50 dollar treatment… however here in Greece, greek yogurt comes cheap (about 3 euros for a big bucket, pretty much) – so lather away after your skin gets kissed by the Mediterranean sun, cause this stuff will be your best friend!

jessica swimming in Elafonissi
Jessica swimming in Elafonissi

#6. Two bikinis. This post is about Greece, however I’ve seen this trend in other parts of Europe as well. Most girls (and some guys) will change out of their “lounge” swimwear into their “swim” swimwear. Confusing? Well I assume they do this because they don’t like to sit in a wet bikini while laying out.

ship in marathi
Ship in Marathi Beach

Or maybe it has something to do with the salt water (it’s very salty in the Mediterranean) and everyone uses the outdoor showers to rinse off after swimming in the sea.

loutro view
Loutro Beach

Anyway… this is probably the only thing I don’t do as a new “local” in Greece… and I think I’ll keep it that way. To me, it’s a little strange – but hey! What can I say?… I’m the one that’s sitting on a wet, soggy towel.

Jessica in Falasarna Beach
Jessica in Falasarna Beach

Want to know more about the Greek culture? Specifically the Island of Crete? Get to know the Cretans and find out what I discovered after moving to a Greek Island!