Here, you will experience lofty mountains, fertile valleys, plateaus, springs, rivers, caves, picturesque villages, Byzantine chapels, Venetian towers, ancient sites, endemic wildlife, unique traditions and cultural happenings… as well as a plethora of exceptional beaches with crystal clear water…
The major villages of Apokoronas are Vamos, Armenoi and Vryses, with police, municipal and utility offices as well as taverns and large churches; Kalyves, Almyrida and Georgioupoli are the largest beach resorts.
The district capital Vamos, home to only 600 permanent residents, serves tourists exploring Crete’s northwestern coastline.
Tourism and agriculture are the major local industries, with much construction and quarrying to satisfy the demands of many foreigners eager to buy or rent properties in what used to be beautiful and traditional villages.
At the present time, Gavalohori is among the more popular villages for foreign buyers, with a large amount of often low-quality building taking place. Many residents or workers in Chania also have homes in the area.
Kalives is a beautiful seaside village in the area of Apokoronas, located approximately 20 km east of Chania town. Along with Almyrida and Plaka villages is considered to be one of the most charming resorts on the Cape Drapanos.
To the north of Kalives village there is a small, yet wonderful harbor serving both fishing and tourist needs. An extensive gift shops, taverns, and hotels are available along the beachfront to serve the needs of residents and tourists.
On Kastelli Hill, east of the village, are the remains of the fortified coastal settlement Castello Apicorono, recognized by some history researchers as the site of ancient Ippokoronion (Apokoronas).
This peaceful and traditional fishing village built amphitheatrically on a hill that offers an unobstructed and outstanding view of all the natural surroundings.
A small river named Xydas passes through the village surrounded by small but thriving shops, taverns and wooden arch bridges. Moreover, Kylaris River, which flows on the west side of the village, forms a small, yet exceptional Mediterranean oasis and gently provides soothing waves of relaxation.
It is said that Kalives got their name from their makeshift shelters constructed by Barbary pirates or Ottoman corsairs in 828 AD. According to the historical sources, the Arab pirates invaded and occupied the area ‘Saracen’ which is located 3 km from Kalives village. Nevertheless, there is an alternative scenario about the village’s name origin.
According to this hypothesis the name Kalives comes from the wooden constructions built by farmers as shelters. Building a “Kaliva” was necessary to provide the local farmers with temporary shelter from the weather and protection from wild animals.
Spend your days in the sand or relaxing on the narrow streets of the medieval part of Kalives soaking up the magnificent view. Similar to the nearby fishing village of Almirida, Kalives shares the same spectacular backdrop of the White Mountains and stunning views of Souda Bay.
This is a side of Crete that captures the imagination and the hearts of all who journey in Apokoronas. It’s a place of breath-taking landscapes and traditional villages, with a rich cultural heritage that stems from the days when Ottoman and Venetian traders passed through on their way from Chania to the east side of the island and vice versa.
The charming village of Kalives is a magnificent base for hiking, walking, bird spotting, and horseback riding through the dramatic landscapes, but it also serves as the prime podium from which you can escape to exceptional beaches with crystal clear water.
The spectacular nature of Apokoronas is almost ever present—you can gaze at this natural wonder whether you’re enjoying a fabulous healthy salad in the restaurant or relaxing on the beach.
The wonders of the outstanding nature are complemented by Cretan hospitality. An irresistible mix of shops and restaurants, handy businesses, a gas station and great collections of fine products make Kalives a favorite “go to” place in Apokoronas.
The locals will welcome you at traditional guest villas and family-run hotels. They will offer you local specialties, wine, tsikoudia and other authentic products at their restaurants, kafeneio and tavernas.
Moreover, you can join local festivals and feasts that will immerse you in the traditions of Crete. Furthermore, there is a pharmacy, banks, butchers, post office, bakery shops and greengrocers so everything you need is at hand.
On the beaches of Kalives, where the blue sea meets the golden sand, people enjoy swimming and sunbathing or having fun with a variety of water sports. Kalives charming Blue Flag beaches with their clear waters and rocky shores are among the most beautiful and romantic beaches in Apokoronas region.
Xidas and Maistrali beaches are very well organized providing lifeguard services and organized tourist facilities comfort for families and couples. However, if you want to stay remote you can walk to the other side of the river, where a smaller and less organized beach is located.
Water-sports devotees also find ample opportunities, from wind-surfing and scuba diving to snorkeling and boating. Here, you can enjoy water sports and activities like parasailing windsurfing, jet and water skiing, Para kiting and fun rides.
A short walk out of the village to the west is a collection of local pebbles and stone buildings including a taverna and a chapel known as Koumos. Koumos is the work of Giorgos Havaledakis and was started in 1990.
Just about everything is covered in mosaic from pebbles and stone and some of the things you will find as you wander round the small paths is a shepherd’s roundhouse, a small museum, a chapel, a mock cave, a sentinels post with soldiers made of rock, a traditional stone encrusted olive oil press, a treadmill and a flour mill.
Rocks and stones were brought down from the White Mountains and ‘siga, siga’ (slowly, slowly) as they say in Greece, he brought his ideas to life. The artwork is quite incredible with mosaics, sculptures and furniture all made of stones, and little walkways and gardens with hanging vines.
The region of Apokoronas extends from the foothills of the White Mountains north to the coast, in a wide plain with rolling hills. To the east, Cape Drapanon rises above the plain and extends out into the Sea of Crete. The area is very green and fertile. The Kiliaris river, known in antiquity as ‘Pyknos’, runs through the region.
Robert Pashley suggested that the name ‘Apokoronas’ came from the ancient city of Ippokoronas or Ippokoronion, also cited by Strabo. Specifically, he stated that the city may have been located near modern Nipos, or on the site of the Venetian fortress, Castel Apicorono, on an outcrop between Kalyves and Almyrida.
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