Located at the exit of the Aradena gorge, it is a welcome sight for the tired hiker but also a good place to visit for anyone seeking the best beaches of the region.
The name of the beach translates to Marbles and comes from the soft colorful rocks adorning the cove. Crystal clear waters, typical of south Crete, and spectacular surroundings with sea caves, rocky formations and the cliffs rising in the background make for a worthy journey. And a journey it will be.
Located about 85km south of Chania, in the region of Sfakia, Marmara beach lies about 5km west of the village of Loutro. The most distinctive landmark of the area is the Aradena gorge, one of Crete’s largest, extending 15km north towards the White Mountains.
The beach is one of the region’s most remote. No roads lead there and even the closest settlements are small, quiet and more than an hour away.
How to get to Marmara
As there are no roads in the vicinity of Marmara beach, getting there can be a challenge.
You will first need to get to the village of Loutro, itself a very isolated settlement only accessible by boat or on foot after a trek of nearly two hours, in both cases from or around Chora Sfakion. The same options will be available to you once you reach Loutro. You can either walk for about an hour on the E4 trail or, during the summer, take advantage of the daily boat trips going to the beach.
The boat, as expected, is the more convenient of the two options and the one most visitors choose. If you feel up to the task, however, the trek through the mountain paths of south Crete is an incredible experience all on its own. And you will be able to do things at your own time, rather than being constrained by boat schedules.
A third possibility exists for getting to Marmara and that is descending the Aradena gorge. However, unless you are also willing to attempt the much more exhausting ascent, you will probably end up leaving via the path to Loutro.
Things to do in the area
Despite its remoteness and small size, Marmara beach is quite popular with visitors of Sfakia. As such, there are umbrellas and sunbeds on offer so you can set up for a nice, enjoyable dip or tanning session. Be mindful of the crowds, however. At barely 45 meters wide, the beach can quickly fill up and you might be hard-pressed to find a comfortable spot. A morning or off-season trip is your best bet if you want to avoid that risk.
Speaking of facilities on offer, do not discount the small tavern nearby. An attraction in and of itself that has contributed to the beach’s popularity, this unassuming but highly rated establishment offers truly excellent food. Exercise the same caution in regards to the possibility of crowds, however, and make reservations beforehand. Otherwise, there is a good chance you will go hungry.
Once you have covered your bases when it comes to swimming and eating, make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to explore the surrounding area. Even if you are not the walking type, the Aradena gorge behind the beach is not a sight to be missed. Just as long as the world-famous Samaria and of great natural beauty, it is also the deepest gorge in Crete at 138m.
And if you are the walking type, getting to the beach via descending the gorge is highly recommended. Whether you take the full route from the Drakolakki cave or the shorter, 7km trek from the deserted village of Aradena, you are bound to be impressed. Just prepare yourself for a long day, because you will also have to walk to Loutro after resting at the beach in such a case.
Other Beaches Nearby
Being in one of the harshest parts of an already harsh region as well as quite remote, Marmara does not offer many opportunities to strike it out at different shores. Lykos beach, on the path to Loutro, is the closest one and there are a couple others around the tiny local settlements, such as Finikas, but that is more or less the sum of it. Marmara beach is the main attraction and your primary goal if you ever get to that side of Sfakia. Do not miss it.
Marmara Beach is must-visit!
Although it might sound like a lot of trouble on paper, Marmara beach is one of those places encompassing the true spirit of the region. The mountains meet the sea and the great gorges mix together with hidden beaches in this trip. It may not be for everyone, but those willing to try are sure to be rewarded.