Every morning here we get to practice as the sun is rising. After a short class, today was a paddling day. The sea was like glass, the temperature perfect and we were happy to be on the water. I was particularly pleased as I promised my group that the sea would be calm on this side of Crete. We paddled out and hugged the coast for about 45 minutes, putting in at a little beach where is is thought that St Paul landed. Just above the beach is Agios Pavlos, an 11th century Byzantine chapel dedicated to St. Paul.
Near the chapel is a taverna where we had fresh squeezed orange juice. Love that place. Our next stop was a longer paddle to Marmara Beach, a perfect hidden bay with cliffs to jump off of, water caves to explore and, perched over the water, the award winning cafe where we had lunch. We ordered way to much, left way too full, then spent most of the afternoon alternately swimming, napping and watching the E-4 hikers come and go.
When we left, it was a short paddle to Loutro, one of Crete’s most beautiful seaside towns. We are here for 3 nights and I am so grateful to be able to return a second time. Paddling into the bay takes my breath away. And not because I’m tired. Like most of the coastal towns on the southern side of Crete, Loutros closes down at the end of October. So we are almost the last of the tourists. There are no wall to wall people to push through, and there is no rush to find space at restaurants. It is easy to find time to talk to the hotel restaurant owners and staff. I only mention this because during the summer months it is jammed with people.