Menies Beach, also known as Diktinna, is a lovely secluded beach in the Chania region of West Crete. Not far from the island’s northernmost point at Spatha Cape, it is part of a beautiful landscape largely untouched by man. Very fitting for those who want a quiet break away from the busy, crowded beaches of Chania, it offers all of Crete’s charms without the oversaturation of tourists.
Its natural beauty, gorgeous sea, and remoteness make Menies Bay a very attractive destination for a day’s trip. Swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, exploring, and camping are all on the table and you are guaranteed to have a great time. So get ready to leave civilization behind and set off into the wilderness.
Menies Beach is located about 45km to the northwest of the city of Chania and 20km north of Kolymbari. It is a small bay at the exit of the local Foundas gorge, in the northeast part of the Rodopos peninsula. The peninsula itself is a wild terrain of olive groves and rocky hills, without any settlements, separating the bays of Chania to the east and Kissamos to the west. The isolated beach’s location at the upper east side of the peninsula protects it from most winds and provides a quiet, beautiful natural haven for visitors.
How to get to Menies
Although remote, there is actually a road on the peninsula that leads to Menies Beach. However, getting there is still no easy task. It is a difficult and dusty dirt road that is not kept maintained, making it dangerous for a lot of cars. A vehicle with a good ride height and preferably four-wheel drive is recommended, as otherwise you risk damage. And with the area being as deserted as it is, your car will be essentially breaking down in the middle of nowhere, with everything that entails. Overall, despite the seemingly short distance, it is a rather slow trip that requires care. If you attempt it, expect around 90 minutes from Chania and at least an hour from Kissamos. Fill up your tank and make sure not to wander off to one of the many side roads.
As you can imagine, there is no bus or other transport over such ground, making a car your only option for getting there by land. There is still the option of going by sea, however. A boat trip, like those we offer here at West Cruises, is a way less risky and very relaxing option for visiting Menies Beach and the surrounding area.
Menies beach is a beautiful small bay, with a shoreline covered in small pebbles and deep, crystal-clear blue waters. The seafloor is a combination of small pebbles and sand and the sea is almost always calm, its location protecting it from the winds usually blowing in the area.
There is nothing but tranquil nature for kilometers around. The bay is surrounded by low cliffs, while a bit further to the back stands Foundas Gorge, offering a splendid view of the area straight out of a fairy tale. Trees line the way to the coast and the remains of an ancient Roman temple still gaze out in the distance.
Of course, the beach is not organized. The trees on the way down can offer some shade, but they don’t reach all the way to the shore. Whether it is food, umbrellas, sunbeds, or camping supplies you will need, make sure you come well-equipped.
Things to do in Menies
As effectively your own personal retreat far from the crowds and the noise of the summer season, Menies beach checks all the boxes for a soothing, relaxing experience.
The calm waters call for a soothing swim, which you can expect to enjoy uninterrupted. The depth is also adequate for snorkeling and the clear blue color further suggests a dive and a look at the world beneath the waves. After your swim, or for the non-marine types, you can enjoy a nice, long tanning session under the Greek sun. Odds are you will have the entire place to yourself, so take full advantage of it and forget about all your worries. Nobody will bother you out there.
There is more to the area than just the beach, however. The landscape, part of the Natura 2000 protection network, is wild and untouched, inviting you to look around, explore and enjoy. The bay used to be the site of ancient temples and there are still some ruins left, while parts of the roads leading to the sanctuary can be found throughout the peninsula.
In more recent times, there is the old monastery of Saint George, located about 1km southwest of the bay. The original structure dates back to the 9th century and the monastery lasted for several hundred years before ultimately being abandoned because of pirate raids. The 16th-century watchtower built to detect hostile ships still stands today.
If you want to explore further away, perhaps towards the smaller bays to the south, west into the mainland, or north towards Cape Spatha, you can consider spending the night there. As mentioned previously, however, make sure to come well-equipped since there are no camping facilities. Of course, that also makes it unlikely for anyone except the wild goats to disturb you.
The ruins that can be found at Menies Beach today are of a Roman temple from the time of Emperor Hadrian. The history of the place goes much further, however. The Cretan goddess Diktinna or Vritomartis, often identified as a version of Artemis, was worshiped there for many centuries. Not only was she important to the population as a deity of nature and the hunt, it was also believed that she had jumped off the cliffs of the Rodopos peninsula to avoid the pursuits of King Minos and was saved by local fishermen. A temple, which does not survive today, was built there during the Hellenistic times and it is possible that the worship of the goddess there began even earlier. Emperor Hadrian later rebuilt the sanctuary, with parts of it still surviving today.
The temple of Diktinna attracts thousands of visitors and pilgrims from all over the island every year. As an important religious center, it was connected to the city of Polirrinia to the south and from there to the ancient port of Falasarna.
People began moving out of the area as the importance of the sanctuary diminished, with parts of it being carried off over time to build homes elsewhere. Today, the peninsula is largely devoid of human presence, with only a few remaining ruins harking back to those times.
Our boat trip
With how difficult and exhausting the road trip to Menies Beach can get, it is no surprise some people opt instead for a more relaxing sea voyage there. Our boat trips at West Cruise offer you the opportunity to visit the area without having to fuss over cars and dust.
Take this opportunity to not just visit the gorgeous Menies but also to sail the seas of Crete and witness its majestic sights. Our luxurious yachts are at your disposal and our experienced skippers will ensure a trip to remember for you.
Menies Beach is a small piece of heaven hidden away from prying eyes, waiting for you to discover it. If you want to take some time away from the noise and the crowds of peak summer season and enjoy sights few witness, give it a try. Out there in the wilderness of Crete, it is just you and the sea. Give it a shot. It will be a time to remember.