The beaches of Chania are famous for their beauty, but on the coastline of the province you will find many small islands, which hide their own beauties. In some of these places history has been written, others are sites of unique ecological importance, some have the most unique beaches that are worth visiting!
Souda is at the entrance of Souda bay, in the port of Chania. There was the monastery of St. Nicholas while in 1571 the Venetian fort Fortetza was built on the islet. According to the testimonies, the arsenal of the fort in 1630 was 44 cannons of various calibers and 9,185 balls, while walls surrounded the entire area. A small door between the two bastions of the fort led to the lower part where the cemetery and a water tank were. On the eastern side were the barracks, and in front of them were three water tanks, warehouses, the garden and the chapel of the Virgin Mary La Madonnina, while the fortress gate was in the southwest. Today you can visit the islet only twice a week, with the boats departing regularly from the port. Looking northwest, you will see another little round little island, Leo, referring to the Venetian maps as “the Island of the Rabbits.” In antiquity and the two islets they were called Lefkai.
The islet of Thodorou or Agioi Theodoroi is located opposite Platanias beach in Chania, just half a mile to the north. It is an island of great ecological significance, since it has now become a protected area for the rescue of the Cretan Goat(Kri – Kri). The islet is not inhabited, it is rocky, with an area of 697 acres, while its maximum length reaches 3,800 meters. On the south side of the island, there is a large arched cave, which makes it look like a monster that has its mouth open, as those who have a lot of imagination say! Next to Thodorou there is a big rock, the island of Glaraki, and that is why you will often hear locals refer to the two islands in the plural. Wild boars were transferred to Thodorou from the mountains of Crete to be able to breed away from poachers. Since then, the islands have been declared a protected area and all human presence and activity have been banned. It is estimated today that approximately 80 goats are on the islet and are kept by a protected by a guardian. Many migrating birds also find shelter in Thodorou.
Lazareto is a small islet (about 200 meters long and 70 meters wide) which is one nile away from the shore of Nea Chora, which is near the old town of Chania. During the Venetian occupation, the Venetians constructed the Purgatory of the region in Lazareto. Plagues were very often in Crete mainly due to the large numbers of sailors who were travelling all around the world. The lack of effective drugs, poverty and poor hygiene conditions contributed to the spread of illnesses that quickly became fatal epidemics, which is why the construction of the purgatory was a critical issue. A complex of buildings was built in Lazareto, where the crews of the ships that approached Chania stayed in quarantine to prevent transmission of infectious diseases to the local population. When the Turks conquered it during the siege of Chania in 1645, demolished the buildings to set up their huge cannon there. Today, only the foundations of the building on which the cannon was placed survive on the islet.
Gramvousa is actually two islets, the Agria (=wild) Gramvousa and the Imeri (=tame) Gramvousa. They are located close to the homonymous cape of Chania, just two miles northwest of Mpalos. Agria Gramvousa is north of the cape and access to the islet is very difficult due to the large rocks that surround the islet like a huge wall. It has been included in the Natura program, as is the wider region, as it hosts seagulls and various bird species on its rocks. The islet of Imeri Gramvousa, on the other hand, is accessible. Besides a beautiful beach there is a famous fortress built by Venetians. On the south side of the island, two large bays are formed, among which there is a shipwreck, the rusty carcass of which is now an integral part of the landscape. In the bay of Gramvousa, located under the fortress, hundreds of visitors disembark from the boats, which make this route in an hour from the port of Kissamos, daily in the summer. Tourists can visit the castle and see the wreck, in addition to enjoy swimming and the sea! Next to the beach there is the small chapel of Agioi Apostoloi and a café where you can get the absolutely necessary.
The rocky islet Gavdopoula is located 4 miles north of Gavdos and is now uninhabited. It is a station of migratory birds during their long journey from Africa to Europe and vice versa, as well as a refuge for the endangered species of the Mediterranean seal and the Careta Careta turtle. The shallow waters between Gavdos and Gavdopoula host bottlenose dolphins, which are occasionally observed near the coast of Crete. The sea around Gavdopoula is very deep and on the southwest side there are individual rocks suitable for those who enjoy diving. At the northwest end of the small islet there is a lighthouse, while the highest point of the rocky isle is 133 meters above sea level. In Gavdopoula there have been found ruins of an Early Minoan settlement.