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Agios Haralabos beach in Sfakia

Nestled in a small cove east of Hora Sfakion, Agios Haralabos beach is one of the lesser-known in south Crete. That is not to say it is not worth a trip. Like many of the hidden gems in the Sfakia region, Agios Haralabos is a bit off the standard tourist radar, but make no mistake. It is a beautiful little beach where you will most certainly enjoy yourself.

While seemingly rather remote, the beach is nonetheless easily accessible. This rare and useful distinction makes it particularly attractive to those looking for some peace and quiet without having to go through trials. Its location near the biggest village of the area adds to that, making Agios Haralabos beach easy to fit into any traveller’s schedule.

The beach

Agios Haralabos beach is effectively a series of bays housing pebbly coasts, about 2km east of Chora Sfakion. The region’s geological peculiarities are evident throughout. There are numerous rocky formations and capes, a coastline lined with smooth pebbles, a seafloor seamlessly continuing from the cliffside and possibly the cleanest, clearest water in Crete.

Named thus for the church of Saint Haralabos, lying between it and the nearby beach of Ammoudi, Agios Haralabos beach is easy to reach. Forget what you might have heard about Sfakia’s dirt roads, because here there is a paved road connecting you directly. At such a short distance from the village, you can easily even walk if you are staying there. And given that the beach is protected from all winds except the rare south one, what you will generally find is the picture of calm for body and soul.

With such a welcoming presence and the small size of the coves, you might be getting worried that the place will be packed. But fear not. Despite its proximity to both Chora Sfakion and the nearby hotel Vritomartis, preferred by naturists, Agios Haralabos beach is quiet and usually empty. Those staying in the village tend to prefer the more popular beaches to the west, while the hotel’s residents, despite honoring it from time to time, usually flock to the nearby Filaki. With its low attendance and the local geography, it is not unlikely for you to have the place more or less to yourself.

Things to do around Agios Haralabos

The peace and quiet of Agios Haralabos beach make it ideal for long and undisturbed hours of sunbathing or just for lying around and enjoying yourself by the sea. But if you want to have a look around, here are some suggestions.

The church of Saint Haralabos is very close, only a short trip down a side dirt road on your way to the beach. The saint is venerated as a protector against the plague, with his churches typically built at the entrance of villages to ward off the sickness. For the people of Sfakia, however, their connection to the rest of the world is the sea, thus they built the church in a cave overlooking it. It is quite a sight to behold and unique in tradition.

As mentioned earlier, the naturist hotel Vritomartis is also nearby. In fact, naturists do visit Agios Haralabos from time to time. However, the primary naturist beach of the area is, by a wide margin, that of Filaki, which is also quite close.

Finally, do not forget that Chora Sfakion is practically right next door. With how easy it is to move between the beach and the village, it is a simple matter to include both in a day’s activities if you are passing by. You can even decide on Agios Haralabos beach as your daily swimming spot of choice if you are staying there.

Beaches near Agios Haralabos

The closest beaches to Agios Haralabos are Ammoudi and Filaki. The latter in particular is a prime destination for naturists and also a lot more crowded. Of the three, Ammoudi beach is probably the most peaceful but also the hardest to get to, requiring you to navigate a difficult dirt road prohibitive to vehicles. Depending on your preferences regarding crowds, accessibility and how much clothing you are willing to lose, one of those three beaches is likely to offer you a pleasant experience.

If you decide to stay within the bounds of the village, the nearby Chora Sfakion has its own beach, Vrissi, as well as Iligas right next to it. And no list of beaches in the region would be complete without mentioning one of the most beautiful seasides in Europe, Glyka Nera, a bit further to the west.

Visit Agios Haralabos Beach in Sfakia

It would be a shame to visit south Crete and Sfakia and only go for the more popular spots. Especially true if you came down here for some peace. Luckily, places like Agios Haralabos beach can give you all you might want from the region without any hassle. So consider it. It is quite literally just a short walk away, after all.

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