The beach of Preveli, Finikas (Phoenix) as it is officially known, is situated at the southern coast of Crete, some 40 kilometers far from Rethymnon at the South. It is a unique sandy beach, very beautiful, with a forest of palm trees, which make it quite exotic. The mouth of the river Kourtaliotis is at this beach; the river has enough water even in summer, and just before flowing into the sea it forms a small lagoon; thus, if you choose this beach for swimming, you might have the chance to bathe both in salted and sweet water! Walking up the river is a fascinating experience; the palm trees grown on the banks of the river give a rich shade and the soil is even and sandy. In times you may think that you are in an African oasis.
Due to this scenic and unusual landscape, the beach is a very popular destination since the 70's when the hippies used to camp here, making huts from the leaves of the palm trees, a practice that went on until the end of the 80's.
The beach is open to the South and affected by the southern winds.
Fortunately, this small paradise is not very organised; there are some facilities for food and drink but not for accommodation. The last few years there used to be also facilities for swimming and sunbathing (sunbeds and umbrellas), but it seems that recently it has been decided to remove them, in order to keep this unique environment as natural as possible.
There are two ways to access the beach, the comfortable one and the hard one. If you choose the former, you have to go to Plakias (by bus or by private means) and catch the boat that makes the daily excursion to Preveli. It departs at about 10.00 in the morning and returns at about 4.00 in the afternoon. You will arrive at the beach without being tired, but you will miss the view of the beach from above, which is extraordinary.The hard way is to drive to the Preveli Monastery (by private means), leave your car at the parking some 1,5 kilometer from the Monastery (the parking is signed) and then start walking (or, better, hiking) down the path with many steep steps. Descending is easy enough, but then you have to climb up, and this is the difficult part of the story. It will take you some half an hour to descend and some more to climb back. If you choose the hard way, don't forget to take water with you and cover your head, as the sun is burning a lot especially from 11.00 to 16.00. Although difficult, this way of getting to the beach will reward you with a marvelous view of the beach from above.