Words by: Stephanie Benson  |  Photos by: JCrew and HandstandSteph

PhotoPhiles is a recurring feature spotlighting some of our favorite photos taken on and off the road. In this fourth edition, we welcome you to the mystical Greek island of Crete, home to Zeus, the Minoans, and yes, even Zach Galifianakis. Greece’s biggest island encapsulates a dichotomy of unspoiled beauty and rugged living. This is the island for beach-bumming (and bum-sunning—lots of nudist beaches for those so inclined). Our favorite beach areas were in and near the small Southern town of Matala, where the secluded Red Beach requires a good 30-minute rocky hike, and where Kommos Beach offers a long stretch of sand and some incredible views for watching the sun melt into the Libyan Sea. For a real adventure, take the long, narrow, switchback-filled road from Kissamos or Chania to the spectacular Elafonisi Beach, where you’ll be transported to French Polynesia with its crystal-clear aquamarine waters lapping serenely against soft, white (sometimes even pinkish) sand. Note: This is a hot tourist spot, so the swarms of people can take away from the postcard-worthy splendor.

Beyond the beaches, are more terrifyingly twisty roads that snake through tiny villages, olive groves, and fascinating archaeological sites. Meanwhile, Crete’s biggest cities—Heraklion, Rethymno, and Chania—offer more urban adventuring. Stay tuned for more words on Crete in an upcoming post. For now, just take in the virtual view…

Matala Beach
Matala Beach, dotted with necessary sunshades, sits below the famed caves
photo(132)
The Tree of Life—hippie style—greeting you to the lovely beach town of Matala
photo(135)
Matala Beach, in perfect symmetry
photo(137)
In love with Matala Beach’s half-heart-shaped curves
10649614_10203797421549364_3886054145184891461_n
JCrew climbing great heights among the caves in Matala
A cacti-eye view from Phaistos, one of the most important centers of Minoan civilization. It was inhabited from the Neolithic period to the 15th century B.C.
10556385_10203797409589065_8721216503740615986_n
JCrew exploring the ruins of Phaistos. Unlike the more popular Knossos, this is a mostly untouched site that has not been restored.
10592882_10203797410149079_1101775727641895674_n
Athena, aka Handstand Steph, setting down fort at Phaistos.
10563114_10203797412349134_4184736885553089812_n
Cretan culinary delights: feta + olives, dakos salad, and fresh dolmas.
The beauty of Crete
At Kommos Beach, watching the great big solar bulb dissolve into the Libyan Sea.
1921184_10204264074457708_326790141160099764_o
The drive-thru, Cretan style. Get your raki, wine and olive oil for just one euro while passing through in Mires.
Beautiful Crete
Handstand Steph walking on water on the jaw-dropping Elafonisi Beach, a slice of a tropical paradise with every hue of blue represented.
10644962_10204264065817492_2230921204637037917_n
Handstand Steph windswept at Falassarna Beach
photo(138)
JCrew enjoying the best gyro ever in a tiny eatery in the middle of Rethymno
1924374_10203797422949399_6681455003853507215_n
The regal splendor of Chania
10532374_10203797423629416_497614683935937591_n
Steph at the Turkish Mosque Yiali Tzami at the Venetian Harbour in Chania.
Chania’s chapel of Agios Nikolaos, aka St. Niklaus Church, was once a mosque.
10390576_10203797426669492_8347982489121999165_n
Steph enjoying the sun and downtown views from the balcony at the stylish Galaxy Hotel in Iraklio.
10492427_10203797411509113_1657545456241108227_n
The Vrontisiou Monastery on the south slope of the Psiloritis Mountain, which sits a little to the northwest of the town of Zaros.
10533451_10203797411949124_827763698863896985_n
Why did the sheep cross the road?

One thought on “PhotoPhiles Volume IV: The Crete Edition

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *