A Visit to Koutoulafari and Storms over Hersonissos

Despite the high heat and humidity in Heraklion, I’ve spent very little time on the beach cooling off in the sea.  There isn’t really a beach in walking distance of Heraklion city – one of the nearest being Ammoudara abut 20 minutes on the bus to the west.  I did visit this beach one day but I felt that it didn’t have many redeeming features.  Part of the beach is public and part private – you can identify which is which by how tightly packed the sun loungers are!  Anyway, today I planned to visit Koutoulafari – I’d read that it is a traditional village inland from Hersonissos which lies to the east of Heraklion.  After that I’d planned to have my first swim of the trip in Hersonissos itself.

The bus to Hersonissos costs 3.30 euros and takes about 45 minutes.  I’d Googled how to get from Hersonissos to Koutouloufari and taxi seemed to be the only way to get there.  It would be possible to walk but it is hot and up hill – so I get a taxi which costs 7 euros plus tip.

I think I had imagined Koutouloufari to be like Kritsa which is a beautiful, traditional village in the municipality of Agios Nikolaos.  There really is no comparison.  I don’t doubt that Koutouloufari was once a pretty, traditional village but now it seems to be just one big resort dominated by bars and tavernas.  It is still an attractive village but it has lost most of its authenticity to tourism.  This is a little disappointing but again I am glad that I have made the visit.

I walked down the hill from Koutoulafari to Hersonissos eager to find a nice beach to settle myself on.  The streets of Hersonissos are busy, the bars are busy – the beaches are even busier.  Sunbeds are packed in like sardines – too close for comfort – though I did admire the crocheted sunshades.  I imagined them to have been made by local yiayias!

I went to a café bar for a cup of tea and asked the lady there if there were any beaches that were a little quieter.  She said no.  I got onto Google and read that there were quieter beaches to both the east and west of Hersonissos, so I stuck a finger in the air and went west!

After about 30 minutes at a slow amble I came across a little bay next to the Hersonissos Maris Hotel.  Sunbeds were spread over various rock formations that fell into shallow, turquoise waters.  Much better!

I had only been on the beach for about 45 minutes before the skies began to cloud over.  I’d had one little dip in the water to cool down after all my walking but those clouds were beginning to look ominous.  I had lunch in the beach side taverna whilst trying to gauge what the weather was going to do.  Before long it began to spit.  I took that opportunity to gather up my towel and begin heading back to the bus stop in Hersonissos town – bearing in mind this was still a bit of a walk away.

Ten minutes into this the rain became torrential.  The roads actually became rivers and I found it almost impossible to walk.  I was left with no choice but to walk barefooted in the road.  I got lost a couple of times and had to backtrack on myself before I eventually found shelter under the awning of a clothes shop.  It took about 30 minutes for the rain to subside and I could carry on making my way to the bus stop.  The queue was long and I was saturated.  It was 40 minutes before a bus arrived and I opted to stand for the whole of the journey rather than make the seats wet.

The heat and humidity had been so unbearable since I arrived in Heraklion.  Only the night before my husband had told me that it had been raining heavily at home.  I told him that I would kill for some rain here in Heraklion.  Well – be careful what you wish for!

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