Matala(updated August 4, 2007)
Matala is an old fishing village at about 65 kilometers southwest of Heraklion. The village has developed into a well-known tourist resort in Crete. The sandy beach in the bay in the village is located between magnificent rock formations.
The beach at Matala
In the chalk north of the beach are a number of small caves. These caves were used as burial chambers in the first and second century. In the sixties, however, the caves offered space for a big hippie community. You can visit the caves at daytime. But you'll have to climb to reach the bigger caves. Unfortunately, many people do their needs in the caves, so they don't smell very fresh.
South of the bay lies the rock Theosyni. This rock sticks out above the bay. At the bottom of the rock a natural cave called Kouroupi can be found. Close to Kouroupi you'll find a dirt road to the south. If you follow this path it will lead you to Ammoudia, a beach with red sand. The walk to Ammoudia takes about 25 minutes.
The caves above the beach
As stated, the town of Matala is totally set on tourist. There are ever and more restaurants and hotels to be built. The center of the village is pedestrianized. Here you'll find some small shops. The prices for the goods are adjusted to the tourists.
The beach at Matala is grainy and the soil is formed on a pretty descending slope. So very quickly you'll reach deep water. Sometimes the winds will form big waves in the bay. Therefore, it is sometimes not allowed to swim in the bay. Usually there are all kinds of attractions offered at the beach, like parasailing, water and the like.
A visit to Matala is certainly worthwhile. Matala is only in the summer directly accessible by bus from Heraklion. There are also several excursions to Matala bookable. Usually, the excursions are in conjunction with a visit to another place, such as Festos (Phaestos), which lies close by.
With a rental car Matala can also be reached easily. Follow the main road, number 97, from Heraklion to the south, toward Tymbaki. After about 50 kilometers you'll take the branch to the left side to the town Mires. Matala lies at the end of the road. It is not to be missed easily.