Martsalo beach

Martsalo is a secluded beach in the west Asterousia Mountains, which you can access just on foot or by boat. At the beginning of the route, you will find the church of Panagia Martsaliani, dedicated to the Annunciation.

From here you start the trip down to the beach through the small forest of palm trees and bushes and wild herbs until you reach the beach. It is a short way, it will take you about 20 minutes and even in high seaons you will not meet many and maybe even so people here, because of the secluded location of the Martsalo Beach. The water is almost always very calm, which justifies its name (Martsalo means Fair Harbor in Latin).

The pebble beach has crystal clear water and offers a refreshing bath with a stunning view up to the monastery. In the middle of the beach there is a primitive pier for the boats that come here from Kali Limenes or Matala. The beach is surrounded by several tamarisk trees which provide natural shade.


Martsalo is ideal for isolation and is completely secluded. However, it is considered a religious site, and activities such as nudism are offensive to the hermits of the gorge. During the Minoan era, the Martsalo beach was used as a port, according to the archaeological excavations. It appears that Paul the Apostle have taught Christianity in Martsalo.

The Martsalo gorge is one of the most beautiful of Crete and a hermitage of the Odigitria Monastery.

Its length is 2 kilometers and it passes through steep rocks with many caves where many asketes lived.

The plantation of the area is very dense. In the middle of the route there is a small palm forest, while there are oleanders, olive trees, locust trees and holly oak trees along it.

Going through the gorge is thought to be easy apart from the steep downward part from the cavernous temple of Panagia to the bed of the gorge.

In order to reach the entrance of the gorge, you have to follow the dirt road that connects Odigitria Monastery with Lithino. There is a sign in that road that leads you to Martsalo.

There is a cavernous church, Panagia Martsaliani, in the beginning of the gorge and it is dedicated to the Annunciation of Virgin Mary. The temple is carved in the cavern in the shape of a cone and is 8 meters deep and 10 meters high. It was used as a catacomb during the persecutions and, as time went by, it was desolated for unknown reasons. The church was covered by large rocks and was found by shepherds of the Odigitria Monastery in the middle of the 19th century. The icon of Virgin Mary was found in the temple.

In the middle of the gorge, in Perivoli, there is a stone tank where the water from a small nearby spring is gathered.