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WorldMediterraneanAegean SeaGreeceCrete

An online cruising guide for yachts sailing around the island of Crete.

35°19.849'N, 025°09.521'E Chart icon.png

Port(s) of Entry are in there

KissamosGramvousaChaniaSoudaRethimnoIraklioKhersonissosSpinalogaAyios NikolaosSitiaVaiKouremenosOrmos ZakrosIerapetraKali LimenesAgia GaliniGavdosChora SfakionLoutroAyia RoumeliPalaiochora
About this image
Chart of Crete - For details click on a name or an area
The Palace of Knossos

Crete (Κρήτη) is the largest island of Greece and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. It has an area of about 8,300 km2. A mountainous island, it lies south of the Aegean Sea, a link between Europe, Africa and Asia. This geographical position, being at the junction of major civilizations and cultural currents, has influenced its history throughout the past 6,000 years The island has an elongated shape, 260 km long from east to west and between 15 and 60 km wide. The coastline is over 1,000 km long and consists of both sandy beaches and rocky shores. The high mountains are a characteristic of the Cretan landscape. They form three mountain complexes, each with its own 'personality'. Between the ranges lie semi-mountainous zones which cover the greater part of the island. There are also a few low lying plains as well as a number of high plateaux. Crete has about 600,000 inhabitants, of which over a third live in the towns of Iráklion, Chania and Rethymnon. The rest of the island is sparsely populated, with large tracts of mountainous areas frequented only by shepherds.


1685 Nisís Venetico to Nísos Spétsai including the channels between Akra Malléas and Kríti
1091 Nisos Kriti
3678 Kríti- north coast. Rethymnon to Kólpos Merambéllou
3679 Nísos Kríti to Nísos Kárpathos
3680 Kríti - southern coast: Ormos Loutró to Ierápetra
3681 Kríti - Western part
G3 Aegean Sea (South)
G37 Nísos Kriti (West)
G38 Nísos Kríti (East)
54300 Nisis Proti to Nisos Spetsai incl. N.W. Coast of Kriti
54320 Kiklades Nisoi to Kriti
54322 Kriti
432 Kriti I. - West Part
433 Kriti I. - West Central Part
443 Kriti I. - East Central Part
444 Kriti I. - East Part


Also see Aegean Sea.

Crete is not a place to visit in a sailing yacht in July and August. The meltemi winds blow most days and are north-easterly on the western end, northerly and the centre and north-westerly on the eastern end. They are usually F5 to F6 but occasionally F7 to F8.

The two straits at each end of Crete develop big seas (3m to 4m is not unusual) at this time of year.

In May/June and September/October the weather is much calmer and more settled. It also is usually fairly calm in November and December, the prevailing winds then are north-westerly across the island but southerlies do occur and they are often strong. January to March is the wet period, rain and storms are common, southerly storms are violent (and bring red rain that stains decks and sails). April is variable, rainy and windy days interspersed with sunny and calm days.



  • Coast Guard - VHF channel 12, Tel. +30 28210 24 4956 (Central for all Crete)
  • Olympia Radio - VHF channels 83 & 84 (Knosos), 26 & 27 (Sitia), 85 & 86 (Phaistos)

Also see World Cruiser's Nets.


Approaches to northern Crete are straightforward but with a strong meltemi there can be a very confused swell. With winds from the north, acceleration will be experienced along both the western and eastern sides of the island, with wind strengths often one or two Beaufort higher than the forecast winds.

If passing along the southern side of Crete, note that there is a west-setting current that will often reach up to 1.5 knots off some of the headlands. On the northern side, there is a similar current that occasionally reaches up to 0.5 knots.

Caution: Be aware that along the southern coast of Crete there can be ferocious gusts when the wind is either from the north or the west. These gusts seem to set in whenever the forecast for the northern side of the island exceeds force 6 and it is wise to reef down in these conditions before leaving harbour. It is a sensible precaution if traversing this coast to get at least a five-day weather forecast and to take note of the berthing arrangements in the only safe havens along the coast in a meltemi, namely Palaiochora, Agia Galini, and Ierapetra. Only Aghia Galini can be safely entered in strong winds and big seas, you need to be in Palaiochora and Ierapetra before bad weather arrives.


There are several ports of entry in Crete (see below).

Ports, Anchorages, and Islands

There are many harbors in Crete but very few natural anchorages.

Key to symbols: |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data ||
Ports Anchorages Offshore Islands
Agia GaliniAgia Galini/wiki/Agia_Galini
Chania Chania /wiki/Chania Port of entry icon – port of entry |
Ierapetra Ierapetra/wiki/Ierapetra
Iraklio Iraklio /wiki/Iraklio Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |
Khersonissos Khersonissos /wiki/Khersonissos Needs data icon – needs data |
Kissamos Kissamos /wiki/Kissamos Needs data icon – needs data |
Palaiochora Palaiochora/wiki/Palaiochora
Rethimno Rethimno /wiki/Rethimno Marina icon – marina |
Sitia Sitia /wiki/Sitia
Ayios Nikolaos Ayios Nikolaos /wiki/Ayios_Nikolaos Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |
Ayia Roumeli Ayia Roumeli/wiki/Ayia_Roumeli
Chora Sfakion Chora Sfakion/wiki/Chora_Sfakion
Kali Limenes Kali Limenes/wiki/Kali_Limenes
Kouremenos Kouremenos/wiki/Kouremenos
Loutro Loutro/wiki/Loutro
Ormos Zakros Ormos Zakros/wiki/Ormos_Zakros
Spinaloga Spinaloga/wiki/Spinaloga
Gavdos Gavdos /wiki/Gavdos Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Gramvousa Gramvousa /wiki/Gramvousa Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Gramvousa - West EndGramvousa - West End/wiki/Gramvousa Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
SpinalogaSpinaloga/wiki/Spinaloga Anchorage icon – anchorage |



See individual Port, Anchorage, or Island.


See individual Port, Anchorage, or Island.


See Ayios Nikolaos marina and individual Port, Anchorage, or Island.


See individual Port, Anchorage, or Island.

Eating out

See individual Port, Anchorage, or Island.


See individual Port, Anchorage, or Island.



Fresco from Knossos palace

Crete had one of the world's earliest civilizations, the Minoan Civilization, named after King Minos, the legendary author of Cretan institutions; in the ruined palace at Knossos invaluable finds have been made. The Cretan kingdom reached its greatest power, prosperity, and civilization circa 1,600 BC. Later, for reasons still obscure, its power suddenly collapsed; but Crete flourished again after the Dorian Greeks settled on the island in large numbers and established city-states. Among the most powerful of the cities (110 in number, according to Homer) were Knossos and Cydonia (modern Khaniá - Χανιά). Although important as a trade center, Crete played no significant part in the political history of ancient Greece. It became a pirate haven in the 3d century BC but was conquered (68 - 67 BC) by the Romans under Quintus Metellus.

Crete passed (395 AD) to the Byzantines, fell (824) to the Arabs, but was reconquered by Nicephorus Phocas (later emperor Nikephoros II) in 961. As a result of the Fourth Crusade, the island passed to Venice in 1204; and in 1212, after expelling rival Genoese colonists, the Venetians set up a new administration, headed by a duke. Under Venetian rule Crete was generally known as Candia (the Venician name for Iráklion) because that was the place of the duke's residence. During Venice's rule, —more than four centuries long— Renaissance swept through the island as is evident from the plethora of artistic works dating to that period. The most notable figures of this Cretan renaissance are the painter Dominicos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) and the poet Vitsentzos Kornaros. Kornaros' romantic epic Erotokritos (Ερωτόκριτος) is still sung in Crete today. Insurrections against the arbitrary Venetians were frequent, and the Cretans were not displeased when they changed masters after the Ottoman Turks conquered (1669) virtually the whole island following a 24-year war. Two offshore island fortresses remained in Venetian hands until 1715.

The Cretans revolted with some regularity against the Ottomans and were very active participants in the Greek War of Independence of 1821. But after the war, Crete did not become part of the newly formed Greek state. After a series of revolts against the Ottomans in the 19th century a climax was reached in the insurrection of 1896-97 that led to war between Greece and Turkey (1897). This war was disaster for Greece. But the European powers intervened in the war, forcing Turkey to evacuate (1898) Crete. An autonomous Cretan State was formed under nominal Turkish rule, but it was governed by a high commission of the occupying powers (England, France, Russia, and Italy). The Cretan national assembly, led by Eleutherios Venizelos, declared in favor of union with Greece, but the powers rejected its demand. The Young Turk revolution of 1908 in Turkey, however, enabled the Cretans to proclaim their union with Greece, and in 1909 the foreign occupation troops were withdrawn.

Samaria Gorge

Cretan representatives were admitted to the Greek parliament in 1912, and in 1913, as a result of the Balkan Wars, Crete was officially incorporated into Greece on 1 December 1913 and eventually Venizelos became the prime minister. After Venizelos lost the 1932 elections his followers, who controlled Crete, led an uprising (1935) against the imminent restoration of the monarchy but were defeated by General George Kondylis. A new revolt (1938) against the fascist dictatorship of John Metaxas was also suppressed.

In World War II, Crete was used as a British military and naval base late in 1940. The British and Greek forces on the Greek mainland evacuated to Crete in 1941, but they were quickly overwhelmed by the Germans in a large-scale airborne invasion, the first of its kind known as the Battle of Crete. Late in 1944, British ships isolated the German occupation troops, who eventually surrendered. In the postwar period there was some Communist guerrilla activity on the island.

Crete has made great contribution to Modern Greek culture. Notable Cretans are: Nikos Kazantzakis (1885-1957) influential philosopher, poet and author; Odysseas Elitis (1911-1996) Nobel laureate poet; Nana Mouskouri (1934) popular musician and singer; and many others.

Places to Visit

See individual Port, Anchorage, or Island.


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



See Greece.


We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

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