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Crete: Hania Prefecture Overview Page Twenty-five

Crete's South Coast

LoutroLoutro east of Aghia Roumeli, Loutro is one of the most serene places on Crete's south coast, with swimming from the rocks around a small bay. Though certainly a tourist destination, it is reachable only on foot and by boat, which has no doubt succeeded in keeping it from the fate of so many other seaside places in Crete (and elsewhere). Though there is no real beach here (and, at least in previous years, some taboos against topless bathing for women, there are secluded beaches to the east reachable both by hired canoe and by the coastal trail that goes all the way to Hora Sfakion (an E-4 European footpath).You can also hike up to the mountain village of Anopoli (see previous section on Hora Sfakion). There are tavernas and rooms in Loutro, and camping out is possible, but more accepted at some distance on the eastern beaches and coves such as Sweetwater to the east, and Marmara to the west.

Sweetwater is about half of the distance to Hora Sfakion from Loutro and consists of a long narrow beach hemmed in by sheer cliffs. Small springs emerge from the pebbles on the beach, providing the delicious (very potable) freshwater that gives the place its name. More frequented in recent years due to daily boats from both Loutro and Hora Sfakion, it is still large enough to absorb a good number of visitors. Caves at the back of the beach are usually occupied by those who stay for long periods on the beach. A simple taverna is at the west end. It takes about three quarters of an hour to walk to Loutro from here and a bit longer to Hora Sfakion. This is a place that campers have respected (so far) in not leaving trash on the beach, and not using soap when digging holes to get freshwater, an ecological sensitivity that will hopefully continue.

Ancient Finikas

Finix, just to the west of Loutro on the other side of a promontory, is a rocky beach on a little bay with a taverna and some rooms; a simple, quiet place. Once ancient Finikas is was a significant town in both Roman and Byzantine times, and later an important port. There's a Venetian fortification up on the headland and traces of a Byzantine basilika, as well as a curious sunken buildin, nowadays used as a cistern, but resembling a Venetian church with an arched roof. Some think that it was an arsenal attached to the basilika. You can get to Finix from the path behind Loutro in about ten minutes. Supply boats headed for Marmara stop here too.   Likkos, a little to the west of Finix, also has fresh water, but the beach is rocky and makes getting in the sea difficult. Up above it is the village of Livaniana, to the east of the Aradhena gorge, which reaches the sea at Marmara beach ('marmara' meaning 'marble'), a sandy beach with caves, and rock slabs to dive from. Too many boats from Loutra (three a day) bring too many people, though mostly during high season. You can camp here if willing to hike out and back for food and whatever else you need.

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