Day 1: Matala: Your Northwest Passage guides meet you at 10:00 AM at the Heraklion Airport. You then set off to visit the world famous archaeological site of Knossos, an ancient Minoan palace that predates the Trojan War. After the visit, the group sets off for Matala where you settle into your room and have lunch (be sure to ask the guides about the best gyros pita in town!). During the afternoon you can explore the waterfront, shopping scene, and ancient ruins of this beautiful beach town. In the evening, The Northwest Passage guides will outfit you with paddling gear. The group then gets to know one another a little better over optional sunset cocktails. You round out the evening with a delicious seaside dinner and an opportunity to sample Matala's nightlife. (Meals included: Dinner)
Day 2: Matala: After breakfast, we will meet at Matala beach for an introductory kayak lesson. From there, you have many options; paddle to the world famous Red Beach, exploring the beautiful coastline and cavernous sea caves along the way. After lounging, swimming, and maybe grabbing a drink on Red Beach, paddle over to Kommos Beach to enjoy a seaside lunch. Paddle back to Matala, capping off the total kayak mileage at seven. The afternoon is yours to lounge on the beach, explore the area trails, or go cliff jumping in Matala Bay! This evening, we suggest you take an optional hike up the cliffs of Matala for an unparalleled view of the Mediterranean coast, and watch the sky blaze through the color spectrum as the sun slips beneath the horizon. (Meals included: Breakfast)
Day 3: Roumeli: We’ll get an early start today in order to stop and visit the breathtaking site of the Minoan Palace of Phaistos on our way to the trailhead for the Samaria Gorge. After touring the more than 4,000 year old ruins, we’ll get back on the road and head for the Samaria Gorge, Europe’s deepest gorge and one of the world’s most stunning natural wonders. The Samaria Gorge has also received the designation of a UNESCO World Biosphere. After reaching the top of the Samaria Gorge, you can grab a quick lunch or snacks for the trail. You will hike through pine forests, across mountain streams, and between towering canyon walls. Keep your eyes open for kri-kri, lizards, geckos, and eagles! Words cannot capture the majestic beauty of this incredible place. You simply have to hike it to believe it! The night's camping will be near the town of Roumeli, a traditional seaside town at the bottom of the gorge that is only accessible by trail and by boat. Spend your evening enjoying well deserved cold drinks and maybe a dip in the sea before dinner. (Meals included: Breakfast)
Day 4: Marmara Beach: Your kayaks will await you for an early a.m. departure at Roumeli Beach. Today you will paddle to Agios Pavlos, a 1,000 year old Byzantine chapel that marks the spot where St. Paul was shipwrecked. Stop at the nearby taverna to enjoy a cappuccino before setting off along the coast to Marmara Beach. Enjoy relaxing at Marmara, taking time to snorkel, lay out on the beach, eat lunch at the taverna, and do some more cliff jumping. Tonight you’ll camp under the stars, just steps from the sea. (Meals included: none)
Day 5: Marmara Beach: Today you have the option to hike on the world famous E4 trail, hike the Aradena Gorge, or paddle to some of the area's beaches. Sweetwater Beach is a very popular beach, approximately one hour away by kayak or trail. This smooth stone beach is known for the freshwater springs that gurgle up through the rocks onshore. Sweetwater is also a great place to grab a snack and a coffee before going on to the town of Chora Sfakia or back to camp for the afternoon. (Meals included: none)
Day 6: Damnoni: You’ll rise early in the morning and set out along the coast to the Venetian-era fortress at Frangokastello for an optional brief tour. Frankgokastello was built by the Venetians to impose order on the Sfakian region, detour pirates, and protect the nobles and their properties. Enjoy a cappuccino or a lemonade at the nearby taverna. From there, you’ll paddle onto Plakias, a lively tourist town just west of our final destination. Plakias offers many unique artisan shops and wonderful tavernas and is a great place to stop for a delicious lunch. After you’ve explored Plakias, paddle on to your final destination for the evening, Damnoni Beach. A secluded, remote beach just outside of Plakias, you’ll set up camp and have a chance to have dinner at one of the local establishments. (Meals included: none)
Day 7: Agia Galini: Heading out from Damnoni, stop at Palm Beach, where native Cretan palms line a picturesque stream which joins with the sea. An optional short paddle or hike up the inland freshwater creek provides a glimpse of river turtles, local birds, and dragonflies. From Palm Beach, paddle onward to Trio Petra beach, renowned for its beautiful rock formations. After lunch, you’ll paddle eastward onto your final destination for the evening, Agia Galini. (Meals included: none)
Day 8: Launching early in the morning, complete the paddling circle crossing the bay from Agia Galini into Matala (approximately 8 miles). The van will depart for Heraklion between 11 a.m. and noon, giving time for a visit the renowned Heraklion Archaeological Museum before catching late afternoon flights back to Athens.
*This itinerary is a is a self-supported sea kayaking adventure and subject to change at any time. You should be prepared to carry all of you personal items in dry storage inside your sea kayaks. As with all adventure travel, some activities are dependent on appropriate wind and water conditions. But fear not -we have many alternative activities available in case the weather is not cooperative.