Chrissi Island – All you need to know to reach Golden Beach [ferry, tour, map and weather]
Crete has many amazing beaches, however, Chrissi Island has one of the best beaches in Europe, Golden Beach.
Absolutely stunning, unless you visit it on a bad day and it can suddenly become a day to forget (but I tell you how to avoid that).
In this guide, you will find all you need to know to get the best out of it, no strings attached, you either join a tour or do it yourself.
But let’s get straight into it
You can read also
- Top-rated places to visit in Crete [including some hidden gems]
- Where to stay in Crete (best areas and worst areas)
- Best itineraries of Crete, from 3 days to a 2 weeks stay (with maps and daily plans)
- The Samaria Gorge Hike – All you need to know
- Spinalonga Tour – the island, the beach, the boat trip, a map and all you need to know for this trip
Before you keep reading, unfortunately, the local government has decided to stop access to the island with the boats. This new regulation is in place till at least the 31st of October 2023.
This means that:
- It is prohibited to disembark visitors from all types of ships (no docking to Chrissi Island)
- Visitors can swim from the boat to the beach and stay on it, however, they cannot walk inside the island, to protect sea cedars within their habitat
Basically, the boat will leave you 10-20 metres from the beach and you will have to swim to gain the beautiful paradise.
There are no more sun umbrellas or cafes/bars.
These new rules were introduced for the conservation of the land and sea area of Chrysi Island.
Chrissi Island – In a nutshell
Chrissi Island Golden Beach: This is one of the most outstanding beaches I have ever visited in Europe. Most of the times it is real heaven with turquoise water (almost oversaturated turquoise), however, in a few rare days, it is a place to avoid (but it’s easy to understand when this is the case, more on this in the weather section). It is a long beach on the north-east side of Chrissi Island, facing mainland Crete. The boat docks at the small pier on the south-east side of the island. There is an easy flat 300m walk from the pier to the beach, across the island. The west side of the beach (on the left approaching the beach) is, in my opinion, the best because you have easy sandy access to the water where you can have a swim without worries. The east side has limited access to the water between slippery stone and rough rocks. There are also a few seaweeds that limit the swimming. The beach umbrellas on the west side are of course the first to go. Try to rent one as soon as you arrive, you do really need one because there is no shade around.
Ferry: It departs from the Ierapetra smaller Harbour (check here the map location). Pay attention that Ierapetra has also an official bigger port but that’s not where the Chrissi Island ferry departs from. The ferry is actually a boat that carries passengers only. It leaves in the morning and it comes back in the late afternoon. It’s comfortable, however, it can become very busy in the peak holiday months (July and August). For a quick coffee or a light breakfast head to the Tortuga Espresso Bar, just a few meters from the boat and opposite the big parking area.
Boat times: They depart twice a day, at around 10:30am and any time between 11:30am and 1pm. You should be there at least 30 minutes prior to the departure to pick up the tickets and get on board to grab a good seat.
Tour length: the whole tour takes around 7 hours. The boat trip itself is around 60-75 minutes. You get to spend around 4-4.5 hours at the beach. If you decide to go for the first boat then you should leave Chrissi Island at 4:30pm, alternatively at 6pm
Weather: this is something you should check 2 days before your planned tour. It is typically sunny so I would not worry about that. You need however to pay attention to the wind. Most of the time is fine however you can’t stay on Golden Beach in those rare days with the strong northerly wind, it’s going to be a sandblast experience. There are however a couple of beaches almost sheltered from the wind, on the southern side of Chrissi Island, where you can enjoy yourself. If you really want to stay in the amazing Golden Beach then check this website to see how is predicted to be the wind (as I said, usually it’s fine).
If you see wind gusts at 55Kmh then I suggest you to postpone your tour. No worries up to 20kmh. You will have waves between 20 and 40Kmh but the beach is fine
Beaches: Chrissi Island is actually relatively big however the best beaches are all in the eastern part of the island, where the ferry boat docks. All walking distance too. I already talked about heaven, I mean Golden Beach, on the north-east coast. There are another 3 beaches on the south-east coast, these are the beaches you want to go when it’s windy or you prefer to have some privacy.
- Vougiou Mati Beach: this is just a few meters from the pier and it’s organised with sunbeds and beach umbrellas.
- Vages Beach: the most remote and with just a few people around, especially with low wind conditions (everyone is in Golden Beach). Beach shoes are recommended because of rough rocks around.
- Frangou Mnima Beach: right in the middle and around 300m from the pier. Again, plenty of privacy. Beach shoes are also in this case recommended.
Families and kids: the boat trip is not too long (60-75 minutes) and the kids will love the beach, absolutely gorgeous. Try to stay on the left side of Golden Beach (west) to have plenty of sand around (the eastern side can rocks and stones around)
What to bring with you: plenty of sun cream as well as a hat and possibly lycra shirts for kids (strong sun). Water and food are highly recommended because there is a very limited selection on the ferry and the beach hut. The snorkel is also a must, plenty of fish around. There is nothing on the island, no tavernas, no shops, so bring all you need from Ierapetra.
Chrissi Island tips: Try to get the first boat at 10:30am (be aware that it may leave even earlier if already full). You will have a better selection of beach umbrellas in Golden Beach. As already said, stay on the left side of the beach, it’s mostly sandy over there. Buy all your food and drinks before leaving. In Ierapetra, there are a few bars in this area close to the ferry but I would not leave it to the last minute. This bakery has also plenty of options. Book your tour (ferry or ferry+bus) in advance. It’s an amazing destination and therefore very popular, especially in July and August. Usually, they allow free of charge cancellation up to 24 hours before the departure.
Chrissi Island from Heraklion: The CretanSpirit Tour has a bus that will pick you up from the station or the hotel (based on where you stay). From there it is a 1.5-2 hours drive to Ierapetra where you will catch the boat to the island. It’s a no worries experience, including the pickup from the pier on the way back. It’s all pretty much organised.
Chrissi Island from Hersonissos & Agios Nikolaos: The Cretan Holidays Tour will pick you up from the hotel in Hersonissos and a few towns nearby (Malia, Sissi and others). The bus drives then through Agios Nikolaos and Ierapetra where you will catch the ferry. Again, it’s a no worries experience.
For a more secluded experience: you can also opt to catch a much smaller powerboat, for a more private experience that will take you not only to Chrissi Island but also to an isolated bay with pristine water for a dive. It’s a great VIP experience organised by Safari Crete Experience.
Can you do it yourself: yes, you can. You can rent a car and drive to Ierapetra where you catch the ferry. Try to be there at least 50-60 minutes before the departure time as parking is limited and you may have a problem there. The parking between this playground and the beach is free of charge, however, there were talks about introducing charging fees. I highly suggest buying boat tickets in advance, especially in July and August. Nothing worst than driving to Ierapetra and the tour is booked out.
Staying in Ierapetra & Hotels: This is another possibility. You can sleep in the charming town of Ierapetra and the next day go to Chrissi Island. There is a nice local beach and some nice bars and restaurants to spend the night. You can think to buy the boat tickets the day before or, for more peace of mind, buy the tickets online, easier. In Ierapetra, I suggest staying at the Coral Hotel or the higher-end El Greco Hotel. If you prefer an AirBnb apartment or travel with kids then the Big Blue Apartment and the Exandas are just perfect and fantastic value too.
Chrissi Island map
Photos of Chrissi Island
Enjoy your trip and leave a comment with your experience 😉