Secret Beach: Marmara Crete

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

We just heard about a really cool secret beach in Greece after some friends filled us in on their recent honeymoon discovery. We contacted one of the guides who works there, and she wrote us a little story about how she feels when she gets to travel from her home base in Colorado, out to the beautiful beaches of Crete.

By Dana Paskiewicz

It’s mid-June, Crete, Greece, and the sun is blazing overhead. A slight breeze blows across the deck of my kayak, and I gaze out into the vast blue waters of the Libyan sea. It’s almost noon, and it’s time to take a rest from paddling, refresh with a dip into the water, and seek shade under the palm roof of a taverna.

Past rugged cliffs, rock formations, and pebbly beaches, my team of kayakers and I turn the corner to our destination: Marmara beach. We excitedly pull into it’s calm bay, one at a time, and line up our boats on the shore. Miles from cities, neighboring towns, and even miles from a paved road, the tiny beach is a remote gem located on the south coast of Crete. The only other beach-goers here are a handful of hikers, seeking solitude and quiet relaxation in this tiny cove.

I know this place so well. It’s the kind of place that doesn’t change. Isolated from the rest of the island, it feels almost frozen in time. I hadn’t been back since October, the last time I guided a kayaking program there, and immediately I’m met with a warm ‘Yassou!’ (‘Hello!’ in Greek). The taverna owner, Edmundo, waves from the above taverna, gesturing for me to come visit.

The hungry paddlers follow me up a rocky staircase cut into the side of the cliff, and we have a seat in the shade to enjoy refreshing, homemade Cretan mezzes, followed by a delicious lunch. Lemonadas, Mythos beer, and freshly squeezed juices pour out from behind the bar and line the table, while the group goes back and forth about what to order. Avocado salad? Octopus? Ancient salad? Sfakian pie? They quickly make their choices, and we gaze out onto the beach below.

Marmara is named for it’s smooth marble cliffs, which not only provide a gorgeous backdrop, but also offer opportunities for cliff jumping and diving. Cavities and caves lie below, with waters so calm they allow swimmers explore their aquamarine chambers. Behind the beach, and towering above us, the Aradena Gorge is cloaked in the shadows, a deep cut into the Earth, and a wonderful afternoon hike for those wanting to stretch their legs and explore the land.

We devour our lunches entirely - basket upon basket of fresh bread is brought to the table, and just as soon, vanishes. Each dish we order comes loaded with fresh produce, local of course, and made to order. The isle of Crete is famed for it’s thriving agricultural market, with bounding orchards and groves of olives, citrus, and vegetables. After we finish the mezzes, lunches, and desserts, we head back down to the beach, where adventures await us.

Some of the paddlers spread out on the beach to take in the afternoon rays, while others swim and snorkel the crystal bay. I take the willing and adventurous group up to the top of the cliffs, where one at a time, we celebrate with cannonballs, dives, and jumps into the sea. We swim from our landing spot into sets of sea caves, enjoying the cool water and listening to the gentle lap of the sea splashing against the rock.

As I look around, I realize the group has found their own paradise. Far from the bustle of the city, the stress of everyday life, beyond cell phone reception and wifi and technology, we’ve settled deep into relaxation. Only a place like Marmara, I think to myself.

Dana Paskiewicz is a kayaking guide for The Northwest Passage and has led several Crete programs on the south coast. When she’s not working as a guide, she can be found backpacking, kayaking, and rock climbing in her home state of Colorado.

For more information on Crete Kayaking Adventures, visit or call +1.800.RECREATE or +1.847.256.4406. Dana can be reached at