With the clearest water in Crete, featuring impossibly turquoise colors, rugged cliffs, and the most scenic views, Sweetwater Beach (also known as Glyka Nera Beach) is the best beach in Crete. It’s the kind of place that you think only exists in commercials because of how unreal the experience is wherever you look.
Out of all the beaches we’ve seen in Crete (and so far all of Europe), Sweetwater Beach was the most amazing we have been to date. This guide will cover what makes Sweetwater Beach the best beach in Crete, how to get there, and what you can do in the surrounding areas of this hidden gem.
Overview of Sweetwater Beach Crete
Sweetwater Beach (Glyka Nera Beach)
Glyka Nera Beach, which in English translates to Sweetwater Beach, is one of the best beaches in Crete – if not the best one of them all. It is located in the southwestern part of the municipality of Chania, in the more far out region of Sfakia.
The name “sweet water” originates from the freshwater that gushes out of the beach’s pebbled sand at various times of the day. Its surrounding areas are characterised by rugged, rocky cliffs in various layers and colorful pebbles that are gently carried by crystal clear waters and the bluest of ocean waves.
It is quite a hidden destination, because of how hard it is to reach. You either take a boat from Chora Sfakion or hike your way through some amazing paths with the most beautiful views you’ll ever witness. If you’re the type who is more into offbeat travel, then Sweetwater Beach, Crete is the perfect place for you.
How to get to Sweetwater Beach
Getting to Sweetwater Beach by boat
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Sweetwater Beach is to take the boat from Chora Sfakion (or Loutro). The ride takes about 10 to 15 minutes and costs around 3 euros (about half of the 6 euro tarif for those headed straight to Loutro).
The best way to buy tickets is at the ticket booth in Chora Sfakion (or Loutro) itself. If there’s no one at the booth, you can also buy the tickets at the boat itself.
As for the schedules of departure and arrival, the ticket booth will usually have the updated boat schedules posted. Generally, there is a boat every 2 hours as from 10am to 7pm.
Otherwise, the most reliable source we’ve found online of the boat schedules are in this website.
Getting to Sweetwater Beach by hiking
Getting to Sweetwater beach by foot is the funner and more interesting route to take and one that we absolutely loved. It’s an easy hike of about 25 to 40 minutes (through the E4 trail that goes to Loutro and Agia Roumeli), but not for the faint hearted as you will literally be walking at cliff edge. The trails can get quite narrow but there is always a rope or rail to help guide you through.
Overall, it’s an easy, flat, and safe hike to take. Not to mention, the views of the horizon, the Sfakia mountains, and the turquoise waters are drop dead gorgeous.
Below is a map of the start of the trail, just off the road from another well-known beach in the area, Ilingas Beach.
If you’re coming from Loutro, the hike is a bit more difficult and the hiking duration is also longer at about 60 to 90 minutes.
Below is a map of the start of the trail from the center of Loutro.
What to do in Sweetwater Beach
Sweetwater Beach holds the Glyka Nera Beach Tavern
At Sweetwater, you can find plenty of sunbeds with umbrellas as well as the Glyka Nera Beach Tavern – a small tavern that’s been built on top of a rock right at the sea. Here, you can order some delicious Greek food or drinks.
Hike to some stunning aerial viewpoints
There are many great hikes around that will give you an aerial viewpoint of Glyka Nera Beach. You can take a break from lounging by the beach to walk around and discover these spots.
Camp at Sweetwater Beach
It’s totally possible to spend a night at Glyka Nera Beach by camping. The activity is allowed and during our visit, we saw various people camping for many days under the shade of the tamarisk trees. It’s free to do so and the next time we visit, we will for sure go camping.
Otherwise, there are many great hotels to stay at in Chora Sfakion or Loutro. You can find some insights on where we stayed in upcoming articles.
• WHERE TO STAY IN CHORA SFAKION •
• WHERE TO STAY IN LOUTRO •
Sweetwater Beach is a naturist beach
The eastern part of Glyka Nera Beach is for naturists so don’t be surprised if you see people going around butt naked as it’s totally allowed. Furthermore, if that kind of activity is your jam, then you can totally let everything loose at Sweetwater Beach.
Why Sweetwater Beach is the Best Beach in Crete
The bluest and clearest water in Crete
For us, Sweetwater Beach is the best beach in Crete because of its turquoise colors, warm waters, and the finest pebbles. This side of the island also has the clearest waters in Crete. Due to its unparalleled beauty, Sweetwater Beach has been ranked as one of the best beaches in Crete, Greece and even the entire Europe.
Of all the beaches we’ve been to, we had the most unique experience in this spot. Mainly because it’s away from all the mass tourism that’s usually associated with Greece and the beach is harder to reach. That the experience also involves going on a hike makes it all the more worth it once you finally arrive at Sweetwater Beach.
Our Final Thoughts
So there you have it! We hope this helps you in your planned trip to the region of Sfakia in Crete and Sweetwater Beach. It’s the best beach in Crete and a more offbeat destination to look into for your trip to the island.
How about you? Have you been to Crete in Greece? Were you able to visit Sweetwater Beach (Glyka Nera Beach)? We’d love to hear if you thought it was the best beach in Crete too! Let us know your questions and travel stories in the comments below.
14 thoughts on “Sweetwater Beach: Complete Guide to the Best Beach in Crete”
I love that Sweetwater beach can be a destination reached by hike! That must be so rewarding, and the beautiful turquoise water & rocks too! In my free time I create art with resin that looks like oceans, so this just might be my new inspiration…
I am loving the thought of a good short hike to get to this amazing beach. Would defo check this out when I eventually get to Crete, the clear blue water is also appealing. Not too worried about butt naked people wandering about…I used to stay a lot in the South of France and they are everywhere! 😀 Made a note of this beach…one day hopefully I be here!
I always wanted to visit Greece, but didn’t have a chance yet. I’ve heard Crete has many beautiful beaches but I though they must be all very crowded, since Crete is Greece’s most populous island. But I’m glad to hear there are some off-the-beaten-path places like the Sweetwater Beach. Getting there by boat seems easier and more convenient than hiking.
Thanks for your kind words, Anda! It was so quiet when we were here but I don’t think these small villages are usually that busy. Hiking is so much fun! We would advise to do half half and come back with the boat. 🙂
OMG, that water. I love the water and that beach looks amazing! Totally worth the hike or boat ride to reach it! Thanks for the tip about the swimsuit optional. Will have my camera ready. ROFL just kidding.
Wow! That turquoise clear water is just amazing! When you said it can be reach by hiking, at first I thought it would be a long one, but it’s not. It will be great to go there by foot and go back by boat. I will stay away from the eastern part though. Not sure if I can act cool. lol.
Crete is gorgeous. It has been on my wishlist for long! It looks like a sweet mix of Greece & Malta. I hope I’ll get to visit it next year (hoping international travel would be possible by then)! The Sweetwater beach is just unbelievably gorgeous. It is definitely true that the places that are harder to reach, are the most beautiful just because they are far away from human distraction. I’ll probably hike one way and then take the boat to return.
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What a beautiful beach! We only visited the result accessible ones by our resorts when we went (decades ago) but this beach looks really pretty and probably less crowded. Love that there is also as taverna there, so it’s secluded but you can still get refreshments!
Ive always wanted to visit Crete but i didn’t realised there is so many beautiful beaches over there! seems like a perfect place for relaxing holidays! I just love staring at crystal clear water and listen to waves crushing on rocks! beautiful photos!
Thanks, Ada! We hope you’ll put Crete on your bucketlist! When we went, southern villages like Hora Skafion and Loutro felt so authentic and we are not sure it will last once the world gets back to normal.
I have never been to Greece yet but I have my plan to visit there. Crete is extremely beautiful I have read so much about it. But I wasn’t aware of this particular beach. The Sweetwater beach looks dreamy, I really am going to add this in my bucket list.
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