In a country with nearly 9,000 miles of shoreline, Crete is where the water really shines.
Giannis Kamarianakis, co-owner of DiveShop, one of Greece’s top retailers for scuba diving, snorkeling, and spearfishing, says Crete’s variety of water depths, coves, and fish means that divers will continue to stumble upon new sights. Add up to 130 feet of visibility underwater and temperatures that, in summer, hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’ll be smiling.
Head to the 98-foot-long El Greco Cave, which has stalagmites, stalactites, colorful sponges, creeping shadow-dwellers, and even an air-filled chamber. Or explore an upside-down World War II German fighter plane, the Messerschmitt Wreck. The cockpit, wings, and fuselage are all still intact—and are frequented by eels and groupers. Beginners will enjoy the marine valleys of Daedalos, which is full of octopus, cuttlefish, crabs, trevally, groupers, and eels.
If you aren’t interested in diving, try snorkeling and spearfishing near any one of the island’s immense drop-offs, where you’ll see large grouper, dentex, and parrotfish. Also, Crete is considered by some to be the lost city of Atlantis, which makes scuba diving there even more alluring—who knows what you may find?
How to get there:
Fly to Heraklion International Airport or Chania International Airport; both offer several daily flights from mainland Greece and seasonal flights on budget airlines from a variety of other European countries. For strictly regional flights, try Sitia Airport, which serves eastern Crete. Ferry travel to and from the island is possible from Athens, Kythira, Thessaloniki, Naxos, Santorini, Sifnos, and Mykonos, among others.