Two Greek islands, with two award-winning beaches each, feature in the 2021 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards list of Europe’s top 25 beach destinations.
In Crete, beautiful Balos Lagoon on the northwestern edge of the island and stunning Elafonissi Beach on the bottom of the western coast hold the number six and seven positions respectively.
On the Cycladic island of Milos, the splendidly isolated swimming spot of Kleftiko Bay comes in at number nine, while the ever-popular and far more accessible Sarakiniko Beach snatches 13th place.
Balos Lagoon, the highest-ranked of the Greek beaches, rewards those who make the trip (either by boat from Kissamos or Falasarna, or by dirt road with a hike at the end) with clear waters in an idyllic setting.
Elafonissi Beach, at the southwestern tip of Crete, is renowned for the pinkish hue of its sand – comprised as it is of finely crushed coral and shell particles – and its turquoise sea. The shallow waters of the lagoon meet the sandy banks of a small island boasting a tiny stone-built chapel.
Kleftiko Bay on Milos, the southwestern-most island of the Cyclades, is a body of water with scattered sea rocks and sea caves. Nearly everyone arrives here by boat, anchoring in the bay and then setting out to swim to the caves and rocks along the coastline.
As for the beach itself, there really isn’t one, but the beauty of the setting more than makes up for a lack of sand.
Sarakiniko Beach, on the other side of Milos, may be one of the most photogenic swimming spots in the world. The landscape here features undulating stark white rock formations above aquamarine waters plunging to considerable depths.
There’s a small beach here, but most swimmers prefer to bask on, and jump from, the rocks, some of which are dauntingly high.