Chania - the western capital of Crete
The Chania region is the greenest in Crete. It is distinguished by the fact that in winter there is the greatest amount of rainfall (up to 2000 mm), which forms the main difference between the western part of the island and the eastern one - even in dry summers, the Chania region remains a bright green oasis, so unlike the classical Mediterranean landscape.
The northern coast of the western part of the island is separated from the southern "White Mountains" (Lefka Ori) - one of the mountain ranges of Crete. This name appeared due to the fact that in the beginning and first half of summer, mountain peaks are covered with snow. The White Mountains massif consists of a large group of peaks. 58 of them esceed 2000 meters above sea level, 111 - above 1500 meters. The highest point of the ridge is Pakhnes peak (2453 m). It is the second highest peak in Crete and the ninth in all of Greece.
It is the White Mountains ridge that forms the ecosystem of the western part of Crete. At its heights, mountain deserts, alpine pastures and numerous plateaus are represented, from which narrow picturesque gorges begin. There are a lot of canyons. The largest of them is the Samaria Gorge. This gorge is one of the most famous and longest in Europe. Its length exceeds sixteen kilometers. Today, the Samaria Gorge is the only national park in Crete.
In parallel to it passes the famous Imbros gorge. It is two times shorter, and therefore quite suitable for walking with children and the elderly.
A little to the west of the Samaria Gorge is the deepest abyss in the Balkans - Gurgutakas. Its depth reaches 1208 meters; fresh water sources and waterfalls are represented. The entrance to this unique place is located at a height of 1.5 kilometers above sea level and the size of the entrance is as big as a human body. The first 60 meters the path is very narrow, so there is always a dense stream of cold air from the inside. The walls are slippery due to high humidity. Only after sixty meters the abyss widens and changes shape. The abyss was completely conquered only in 1999.
The ecosystem of the White Mountains ridge feeds the only natural freshwater lake in Crete - Kournas. Underground water flows of mountains, melting snow on the peaks, winter precipitation and many other components determine the water level in the lake. That is why it can vary by 5-8 meters depending on the time of year. The maximum depth of the lake reaches 25 meters. Kournas Lake is located on the border of the Chania and Rethymno regions.
But the Western Crete is famous not only because of the White Mountains. Many guests of this part of the island are primarily attracted by the three most well-known beaches in Crete. All of them are located precisely in the Chania region, along the western coast of the island.
Balos Lagoon is the northwestern point of Crete. This point is famous for the fact that there is a geographical border between the three seas: the Cretan (washes the island from the north and is part of the Aegean), the Libyan (washes the island from the south and is part of the Mediterranean) and the Ionian (washes the island from the west).
To the south of the confluence of the three seas is the beach of Falasarna. Locals believe that by the beauty of the sunset, it can compete with the world famous island of Santorini. The beauty of the sunsets of this beach has caused the largest open-air party in Crete to be held annually on the first Saturday of August. Guests not only from the Chania region, but also from all over Crete come to admire the sun going down into the sea.
The southwestern tip of Crete boasts Elafonisi beach. This beach is one of the nine beaches of the world with colorful sand and it is a pink beach. Another pink sand beach is located in the Bahamas. The pink sand of Elafonisi beach is visible even through the thickness of transparent and clear sea water.