A Crete Thrill Seeker’s Guide for Adventure

  Most travelers will tell you that Crete’s appeal stems from its beautiful sceneries, the slow brush of ancient history, and the exotic promise of myths and legends. The island is, in the end, a magic sliver in the heart of the Mediterranean, the cradle of ancient civilizations, and part of the history of one of the world’s most praised empires. As mysterious and historic as it is though, there is always more to Crete than what meets the eye, and while this beautiful island will appeal to the history buff to their nerdy passion for legendary heroes, it has a lot more to offer. Fun in the sun, luxurious holidays where you can spoil yourself rotten, and everything an adventure traveler might look for are all here in abundance.

  Here on Crete, one might think the sun, the sea, and the delicious cuisine would be too much of a temptation for anyone to bother and seek an adrenaline rush, but Crete is perfect for those favoring heart pumping holidays over the quiet lounging about the pools or the sea, or even over the mind stimulating discovery of ancient sites. So, if you think you can’t find all the adventure you need in Crete, think again.

Here are a few of the extreme activities you can enjoy on the island:

  Diving : Cretans takes diving seriously. There are plenty of different clubs and companies for the visitor to choose from, and to suit any level of experience. Everyone from children to adventurous adults can get their fix of underwater fun. Plus, you’re thinking small, colorful fish are all you’ll see, think again. Crete actually has whales offshore, and the quite famous but sadly endangered Mediterranean monk seal, dolphins, squids, octopi, porpoises, sea turtles, and yes, some “Jaws” action with the hammerhead sharks. If you’d like a little sea life adventure, but without the element of danger, that’s okay too. You can see everything from the safety of a glass bottom boat. Just head to Chania Town and search for Captain Nick’s Aprhodite.

  Kitesurfing : One of the local’s most loved offshore sports, riding the winds off Crete’s famous beaches harnesses the winds of the Cretan and Libyan Seas. The world famous crystal waters off the island make the perfect excitement soup to dash across unfettered by land borne encumbrances.  To be less poetic, and more to the point, the Cretan seas are a rush even for the most adventurous daredevil. Visitors will find the sport riveting, especially off famous Elafonisi, where a steady north-west wind from the Ionian Sea competes with the side-shore one. Then there’s Falasarna, maybe the most picturesque and fun beach in Europe. As you can see from the image below taken in March, that spot is magnificent. There are literally hundreds of others on the island though.

  Bungee Jumping : While bungee jumping might not be the first activity one associates with Crete, the intensity of this activity when practiced on this island is more than convincing. In case you did not know, Arádhena Gorge is home to Europe’s second highest bungee jumping local. So you’d better steel yourself for white-knuckle, heart thumping jumps that will drench your thirst for action packed excitement.

  Horseback riding : We’re not talking a few hours spent on horseback here. We’re talking weeklong riding treks across the island. Explore Lashiti Plateau, and Matalia, where you can embark on unforgettable horseback adventures. Experiencing Crete on horseback, other than giving you the thrill you need, also affords the chance to experience the island much like people living long before our current technological overload took place. One thing you’ll quickly learn about the land of the Minoans, this place really is all about tradition, and being caught in time.

  Biking Mountain biking : is another great option for the sports minded or adventurous traveler. Exploring Crete on a bike is much like horseback riding, serious business where getting in tune with nature is concerned. After all, many tourists find Crete’s rugged landscape a surprise. Enthusiasts can either take three one day Olympic level treks or choose to spend one to six days biking across the island. Whether you want to explore with the help of an experienced guide, or striking out on your own, you’ll find all the “outback” thrill seeking you ever wanted here.

Jeep Safaris : Nothing gets your blood rushing through your body like a 4x4 demonic rush across the island. What’s not thrilling about speedy hill climbing and dashes across the plateau, is certainly fuel for amazement when all the panoramas are taken in. Jeep safaris are available almost everywhere on the island, any of which will introduce the traveler to the amazing diversity and fun to be had in Crete’s outdoors. These are but a few of the adventures Crete has to offer. Add hiking, trekking, rock climbing, and sea kayaking to your mix and you’re still not done exploring all the thrills this Greek island has to offer.

Like most things Cretan though, reading or watching on TV about the place just will never do, the island where Zeus was born can only be understood up close, in the company of Cretans, you’ll find the perfect adventure destination.

Liliana Steffens, for Lato Boutique Hotel, Heraklion