The sea in Crete is warm in summer and swimming is always pleasant. The water temperature is 20 C in May, rising to 26-27 C in July and gradually falling back to 20 C in November. Even in winter the water temperature does not fall below 17 degrees, so you can swim in the sea in Crete all year round.
The beaches along the north coast of Crete are usually shallower and the water is slightly warmer. There are also lifeguards on most north coast beaches. Strong winds blow all year round. Depending on the time of year, there are often strong south winds (in winter) or northerlies (all year round). In summer there are also the meltemia or etesian winds, seasonal northwesterlies common across the southern Aegean, which start up around 10 in the morning and die down at dusk.
The wind has a different effect on Crete beaches depending on whether these are on the north or the south coast:
- Along the north coast: north winds create high waves. This may prove dangerous for inexperienced swimmers. Be careful and follow the lifeguards' instructions.
- Along the south coast: north winds here blow from the land to the sea. The sea remains calm but the sand hitting your body makes you feel like someone is trying to sandblast the skin off your body. This happens on a few days each year when the north winds are particularly strong, mainly in July and August.
The beaches unaffected by the wind are: Marathi, Kalyves, Almyrida, Plaka, Bali, Agia Pelagia, the Limanakia in Hersonissos, Loutro, Kali Limenes, Arvi, Myrtos and Makrygialos.