Crete – a picturesque Greek island – is rich in small seaside resorts, where tens of thousands of foreign tourists rest every year. One of them is Gouves. The name can be translated as “ditch” or “pit”. This small town, located 17.6 km east of Heraklion, the island’s capital, is known for its three-kilometer sandy beach, olive groves, pottery workshops, vineyards and a wide variety of entertainment for numerous holidaymakers.
For the sake of a pleasant pastime on the sea coast, tourists from Germany, Russia, Britain, Ireland and Poland most often come to Gouves. First of all, the resort is suitable for a relaxing holiday for parents with young children. The climate of Gouves is characterized as moderately subtropical. Summer is quite dry (from 4.5 to 22.6 mm of precipitation per month), winter is a rainy period (monthly from 71.2 to 80.3 mm).
Mid-May is the beginning of the tourist season, which ends in the last week of October. During this period, the air warms up to + 23.2 … + 29.3, water – up to + 23.1 … + 26.3. In the city, the first mention of which refers to the XIV century, and its surroundings there are many natural, sacred and historical objects worthy of the attention of foreign tourists.
Pano district in Gouves
A small resort is conditionally divided into two districts: Kato, which can be translated as “Lower”, and Pano – “Upper”. The first of them is located directly on the sea coast. Pano is located at the western foot of the picturesque Ederi – a low mountain. From the sea coast, this area is separated by 2.5 km. To get to Pano Gouves, travelers will have to move along the Epar road. Od. Koksaris–Goufon past olive groves, thickets of cacti and pastures where herds of sheep graze.
At the entrance to the area, guests are “greeted” by a small church building. In Pano Gouves, the doors of five functioning temples are open. The area is a typical Cretan village with very narrow streets, on both sides of which there are low stone houses. Tourists are happy to walk around Pano Gouves, enjoying the leisurely rhythm of local life.
Quite often, travelers meet an abandoned house, the owners of which have moved to the cities. In Pano Gouves, the doors of three cozy taverns and cafes are open for guests, where you can get acquainted with the taste of Cretan dishes and coffee made in Greek:
- Pame Palateia;
District address: Pano Gouves, 700 14. Pano is located south of Kato Gouves. The length of the road connecting the two districts is 1.9 km.
Church of Saints Helena and Constantine
The sea coast of Kato Gouves is decorated with a small white building of an Orthodox church. The Church of Saints Helena and Constantine, surrounded by fluffy pine trees, is dedicated to two Roman monarchs: mother and son. The queen and the king played an important role in the spread of the Christian faith in the territory of the Western Roman Empire in the iv century.
Now it is hard to believe that a small church, the history of which has not been preserved reliable information, is associated with the names of famous monarchs. A paved path leads to the temple. Visitors are covered by the stone structure of gray-brown color, located next to the church. In this utility room, candles are always burning, which are brought by believers.
A small inner hall of the church, which can accommodate up to 50 people, adorns the iconostasis. It is not customary to light candles here. Above the entrance to the temple you can see an icon depicting Helena and Constantine. The church roof is decorated with a barely noticeable cross. On weekends, holy masses are held in the church. Entrance to the church is free. Believers visit the sacred place throughout the year. On Saturdays and Sundays in the temple you can also witness the baptism of children or wedding.
Church address: Kato Gouves, 700 14
Dia Island, or Dragon Island
Only 12.4 km separates the sea coast of Heraklion from the island of Dia (sometimes sources give another spelling – Diya). In shape, it looks like a giant lizard or dragon. Therefore, among tourists, another name for the island is common – Dragon. Its area is 12.5 sq. km (according to other sources – 11.9 sq. km), width – about 3 km, length – a little more than 5 km.
On the south side, the coastline of Dragon Island consists of five capes, lined up one after another and almost identical in size. Between them there are bays with unusually clean and clear water. Now Dia is a desert island. However, he was not always like that.
In 1976, J. I. Cousteau – the famous French director, explorer and photographer – visited the vicinity of the island with an expedition. The scientist managed to find the remains of an ancient city in coastal waters. Most Greek archaeologists claimed that the discovered ruins belong to the Minoan period in the history of Greece.
In the past, the island served as a landmark for Greek sailors who approached Crete by ship. Since the beginning of the XXI century, Dia is a large protected area. Dragon Island is home to rare fauna:
- Cree-Cree – wild goats;
- – Albinaria Retusa, an endangered species of snail
- Eleanor’s falcons;
- European rabbits;
- Cycladic lizards.
Tourists get to Dragon Island on cruise boats from Heraklion.
Above Pano Gouves rises a hill, on the slopes of which olive trees grow. Its height is 322 meters. Guides and locals call the hill Mount Ederi, which translates as “Ivy”. On the relatively flat top of the hill you can see the abandoned buildings of the former North American military base. One of them is a dilapidated radar.
Now the top of the mountain plays the role of a spacious observation deck. From here, tourists look at ships in the distant sea and the buildings of Kato Gouves for a long time, and also admire the bright sunsets in clear summer weather. To the observation deck, travelers climb a long mountain path, which whines serpentine along the slope of Ederi. Excursions to the mountain are organized in Kato Gouves and Heraklion. The cost for one participant is from 12 euros.
Mount Ederi address: Hersonissos, Pano Gouves, 700 14
“Big Blue” – diving school
Certified instructors of “Big Blue” teach lovers of scuba diving and diving in the sea. The level of training can be very different – from beginners to experienced divers who want to improve their skills and get a diploma. For clients of the diving school, located on the territory of the hotel “Aphrodite”, several courses have been developed:
- the ability to provide medical care during scuba diving;
- for training divers-rescuers;
- on training in photography under water;
- for novice divers – Discover Scuba Diving;
- for those wishing to obtain an international diploma – Open Water (“Open Water”).
Diving into the sea water from the boat is organized at the diving school “Big Blue” twice a day. Only tourists who have undergone special instruction and have experience in scuba diving can take part in this exciting event. On request, instructors can also arrange night dives into the water from the boat.
The address of the diving school is: Aphrodite Hotel, Kato Gouves, 700 14.
3.7 km east of Kato Gouves, if you go by road, is the famous Cret@quarium, located 150 m from the seashore. So unusually written the name of the Cretan Oceanarium, which is considered the largest in the country. Cretauqarium first opened its doors on December 18, 2005 Now, in 2021, the Oceanarium occupies an area of 60 thousand square meters. m. Guides are happy to talk about what includes Cretaquarium:
- more than 2 thousand marine organisms;
- 60 aquariums;
- 1.7 million liters of sea water;
- more than 200 species of inhabitants of the Mediterranean Sea.
Next to each aquarium there is a touch screen, which gives information in five languages: Greek, French, Russian, English and German. Thanks to this, visitors will learn details about marine life. If desired, guests of the Oceanarium can use the services of an audio guide or a personal guide.
The main goal of Cretauqarium is to introduce visitors to the marine organisms of the Mediterranean. Employees of the institution managed to reproduce realistic landscapes of the seabed in aquariums. Before visiting, tourists should familiarize themselves with the cost of services offered in the Oceanarium (prices current in 2021 are indicated in euros):
- audio guide – 3;
- entrance ticket for an adult visitor – 10; for young guests from 5 to 17 years and for people of venerable age from 65 years – 6; access for children under 5 years old is free;
- excursion with a personal guide – 100;
- in winter, the entrance for all categories of visitors is 6.
In summer (from 1 April to 31 October), Cretaquarium welcomes guests from 9:30 to 19:00. In other months, access stops at 16:00. Highly qualified teachers of the Center for Marine Research, which includes the Oceanarium, offer several educational programs. With the help of exciting activities, young visitors get acquainted with the peculiarities of the fauna and flora of the Mediterranean Sea.
Oceanarium website: https://cretaquarium.gr/
Address: Heraklion 710 03
From Kato Gouves to the Oceanarium can be reached by any bus going towards Heraklion. Motorists drive along the palea EO Irakliou-Agiou Nikolaou road, turn north near Dinosaur Park and continue to the Oceanarium, guided by the signs on which the Cret@quarium is written.
Aqua Plus Water Park
In 2001, he began to receive guests “Aqua Plus” – a popular water park in Crete, located 8.1 km east of Gouves. In this center of water entertainment annually rests more than 100 thousand guests. For adult visitors in the water park is equipped with 13 different complexity of water slides, for children – 6 descents. The most popular attractions:
- “Hydraulic tube”;
- “Black hole”.
Aqua Plus is located on a low hill 4.2 km from the sea coast. Guests ride from the slides, located in two zones – children’s and adult – and surrounded by palm trees, bougainvilleas, willves and other trees and shrubs. The water park welcomes guests from May to October. Aqua Plus doors are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance fees (in EUR):
- for adults – 28.00 and 23.24;
- for visitors from 5 to 12 years old – 18.00 and 14.94;
- including transfer, for adults – 37.00 and 30.71; for children – 23.00 and 19.09.
The second price is the cost of the service when booking on the Aqua Plus website. About the transfer and places from where drivers of comfortable buses pick up tourists, you can find out on the portal of the water park. The site also contains phone numbers for communication with the administration of Aqua Plus. On the territory of the water park there is access to billiards and table tennis courts. There is also a bar, a restaurant, a coffee shop and a snack bar.
Address: 5th km Hersonissos to Kasteli, 712 00. Motorists get from Gouves to the water park on the way to Hersonissos. They then turn south and continue on to Aqua Plus. There are three free parking lots near the water park.
Watercity Water Park
10.8 km west of Gouves are the “possessions” of the “Water City”, which occupies an area of 80 thousand square meters. m From the sea coast Watercity separates 2.4 km. On the territory of the water park there are many objects that are interesting for adults and young guests:
- wave basin, considered the largest in the country;
- 5 children’s and 10 adult slides;
- coffee shop, 4 bars, ice cream parlor;
- beauty salon;
- Gift shop;
The water park starts receiving guests from 10:00. Access to the territory of the “Water City” stops at 18:00. Watercity is open to visitors from early May to mid-autumn. The cost of the entrance ticket in euros for adult guests is 27, for children whose height is from 90 to 140 cm – 18.50. When booking tickets on the site, respectively, 22.95 and 15.73. The most popular attractions of the water park:
- Turbo Cyclone;
- “Crazy River”;
- Turbo Hans.
Address: Anapolis, Heraklion, 700 08. On the website of the water park you can order a transfer. Motorists drive along the road through Gournes. In Kokkini Hani, turn left at the Hatzis supermarket and continue to the entrance to Watercity. There is ample parking near the water park. The service for guests of the “Water City” is free of charge.
Cave of St. Paraskeva
Crete is rich in sacred places, including caves associated with rituals of worship of ancient gods. One of them, located 6.5 km from Kato Gouves, is dedicated to St. Paraskeva. This was the name of the Roman martyr who lived in the II century.
The second name of the cave is Skotino. It was discovered during excavations conducted by John Pendlebury and Arthur Evans – English scientists – in the 1930s. Archaeologists managed to find many ceramic and bronze products belonging to the Minoan, ancient Greek and Roman periods.
Scotino is also the name of a village located near the cave. Guides and locals prefer the name of St. Paraskeva. Next to the cave stands a small stone church. The temple also bears the name of St. Paraskeva. The cave is considered the largest on the island and amazes with its size (in meters):
- width – 36;
- height – 47;
- length – 160.
In the cave of St. Paraskeva is quite cool, there are no stairs, no bridges, no artificial lighting. Therefore, tourists usually come here with lanterns. Among the bizarre stalagmites and stalactites you can see bats and pigeons. Entrance to the cave is free. Tourists prefer to come here in the summer months.
Address: Hersonissos, 700 14. From Gouves, travelers often reach the cave of St. Paraskeva on foot. By car, go to the turn to the village of Scotino and continue the path according to the signs.
Gouves – a small picturesque resort for tourists in love with Crete
For travelers who have chosen Gouves for their summer holidays, a wide range of opportunities opens. Guests of the resort relax on well-equipped beaches, have fun in water parks, go diving, study the life of marine life in the Oceanarium. In the Pano area you can plunge into the atmosphere of an ancient Cretan village. The advantage of Gouves is the proximity of Heraklion, from where tourists get to Kato Gouves by bus to Hersonissos, Sitia or Ierapetra. Motorists drive along the road leading to Agios Nikolaos.