Paleochora swim – finding remote paradise beaches

Swim Paleochora 06

It’s Clean Monday in Greece, and everyone is out to fly kites. However, the wind is not blowing very seriously, so we go out to the South coast for a fun swim.

It’s a long drive to Paleochora, but the scenery is always impressive, as we go over the mountains and inside a gorge. When we finally get to the Southern side, we drive East along a dirt road to the beach of Gialiskari, our launch base. Here we find Bob, renowned explorer of South-West Crete and author of walking books around Paleochora and an online column to explore the area.

After Bob’s advice, we park, take down the support kayak, move our stuff to the shore in the shade of the tamarisk trees, and I get ready to go. The sun is out, the air temperature is near 20°C, the sea is colder than that though, closer to 15-16°C.

With my full wetsuit on, we’re ready to go. Entering the cold water when the sun is shining so strong is always a bit of a shock, but the wetsuit does its part and the rays help me keep warm, though my foot stays cold the whole way. There is some swell but not much wind, and it’s going down. Fiona is the captain on the support kayak, while Giulia and Sofia are photographer and videographer.

In the beginning we pass a couple of natural rock pools by the coast. Then there’s a rocky outcrop with a nice green-blue bottom and shallow water. We take a straight line to the next cape after that, and stay some distance from shore. It’s a good depth now, and the swell is rocking me side-to-side. For a while I feel slightly disoriented as I can’t understand how much progress we’re making, and I’m not especially warm.

Eventually I get in the rhythm and start to enjoy it. We get near the cape and I see flat, slanted rocks below me in the shallow waters. My crew takes some videos as we round the cape. The water also feels warmer, we are more sheltered and it’s definitely flatter now. We still can’t see the small cove we are aiming for. After some more swimming, we spot a small sandy bracket, that’s the one. I land, then the kayak lands. That was 2.6 Km, almost an hour of swimming.

We have a snack and they have a swim. I welcome the heat trapped in this little corner of paradise. We relax for a while. Fiona gets dressed to walk back on the narrow path, well maintained and signposted. I get on the kayak with Giulia and Sofia and we paddle back. Giulia takes some photos of the path and the coastline from the sea, it looks beautiful. Sofia dozes away in the back.

We land back on Gialiskari beach, with the kayak and all the gear. Elated to have found this new beautiful route, we are also hungry, so we pack and drive to a taverna in Paleochora to enjoy a good lunch before making our way home.

Total distance: 2.55 km
Average speed: 2.89 km/h
Total time: 01:00:42
Download file: Swim-Paleochora-Gialiskari-Wetsuit-Short02032020.gpx

Sea turtle spotted in Falasarna

Sea turtle Caretta caretta in Falasarna

This morning we went to Falasarna beach for a swim.

It was a beautiful day, with crisp air and clear water. The sun was out. A breeze was blowing.

I put my wetsuit on and swam North along the coast. After about 15 minutes, I turned back and swam towards the surface flat rock lapped by the waves, where I had a sea rendez-vous with Fiona.

I swam around the rock and then stood on it. I saw Fiona coming from shore, so I swam to meet her. We met and we proceeded to swim again towards the rock, our focal point. After a few strokes, I heard her call: Look!

She spotted a sea turtle on the bottom, some 6-8m deep. The turtle, a Caretta caretta, was not moving. It looked like she was sleeping, head tucked in between some rocks. I took the camera from Fiona and dove to take some shots, but I couldn’t really get deep with all the buoyancy from the full wetsuit. It looked like the turtle had a big tail curled under her body, which would make her a he. A good size animal, probably and adult. We left him there to rest and swam back towards shore.

We enjoyed the bright clear water on the way back, and even basked in the full sun once we got out.

Total distance: 1.45 km
Average speed: 2.97 km/h
Total time: 00:35:46
Download file: Swim-Falasarna-Wetsuit-Turtle-Short18022020.gpx

New year, new swims

It’s a new year and the sun is out in Kissamos.

We had a break for Christmas in Italy and only got back a few days ago.

I have already been swimming and kayaking over the last couple of days in Falasarna. I measured the water temperature there at 16.2° C! A big drop from the almost 20 degrees I measured less than a month ago.

I don’t have a thermometer with me today. The water feels chilly. I have my full wetsuit with me.

With the sun warmth, it is quite comfortable to enter the water and swim for a while.

I log about 1.4Km in half an hour. I feel fast too! A good swim for 2020.

Total distance: 1.38 km
Average speed: 3.01 km/h
Total time: 00:30:16
Download file: Swim-Viglia-FullWetsuit-Short12012020.gpx

December swim in Kissamos bay

Winter sea swim in Kissamos bay

December is always full of crisp winter days. The air temperature is still good, just below 20°C most of the time, and the sea temperature… even better!

So on this sunny day I went to my favourite spot in Kissamos bay, along Viglia beach in the South-West corner, for a swim in the clear water.

I decided to go wearing short fin for extra leg exercise. I measured the sea temperature at about 21°C. I had a little breeze while I was out in the water, but as it happens it dropped as soon as I got back to shore.

It was a good winter morning swim.

Total distance: 0.98 km
Average speed: 2.87 km/h
Total time: 00:20:18
Download file: Swim-Viglia-SmallFin-Short04122019.gpx

Snorkelling with fish in Falasarna

On these end of summer days the air is cooler, but the sea temperature is quite warm.

Snorkelling around the Northern part of Falasarna bay with Davide, between the submerged rock and the shallows, we have been seeing shoals of small amberjacks. See the video below!

Swim to the Shipwreck in Falasarna

Shipwreck Falasarna

Today I went for the first long swim in a while. The air was very clear in Falasarna, Antikythera well visible in the distance.

The sea had some swell from yesterday’s wind, about 0.5m waves, constantly rolling me to the side. No wind.

I have been taking a break from swimming seriously in the last couple of weeks because of pain in my right shoulder, which came after a 4.5km swim in Elafonissi.

I tried a light pull on my arm stroke, especially on the right, and I tried to emphasise rotation. At the same time, I tried a higher stroke frequency than normal. It went well. I got back a little cold though, actually a welcome feeling after some weeks of intense heat.

The shipwreck was surrounded by very cool light. The sun was setting and the sunken craft was just on the edge of the shade projected by the nearby rocky cliffs. The resulting light and shade play underwater was pretty good.

Also to note, jet-skis were absent today, next time I could swim to Limpet island, a swim I did only once and with support.

Total distance: 2.15 km
Average speed: 2.80 km/h
Total time: 00:49:44
Download file: Swim-Falasarna-Shipwreck-Short12072019.gpx

The Elafonissi Swim

Elafonissi Swim

Elafonissi is the jewel of South-West Crete.
It’s a small peninsula on the tip of the big island, connected by a thin strip of pink sand. It is one of the most popular destinations on Crete.

It has beautifully clear shallow waters all around it, especially on the usually sheltered East side. These shallows are dotted by small rocks in the water, inside the bay that hosts also the tropical-looking beach of Kedrodassos.

It’s the start of the summer, and big packs of tourists are already enjoying the Cretan sunshine.

The sea hasn’t warmed up properly yet after the heavy winter.

I am going to swim around the peninsula, starting from the exposed side and going counter-clockwise. The distance is about 4.5Km, a distance I haven’t swum in a while.

Fiona is in the kayak, both as support boat and one-person film crew.

As expected, there is some chop in the beginning, but it looks worse than it feels. I am pretty determined to just keep swimming. On the last attempt at a long swim, just a few days earlier, I got really cold and stopped halfway through. But here today the water feels warmer.

I have some trouble navigating after coming out of the protected bay. The kayak is not keeping a very straight line either, what with the filming and everything. There’s a field of shallow rocks ahead of me, by the tip of the peninsula. I am aiming for the tallest rock out there. I have the choice of swimming through the field or going completely around it. I stay close to the coast and eventually decide to just go through it. The underwater scenery is awesome. On top of that, as soon as I go past the rocks the swell subsides and I am swimming in calm waters.

I am already halfway there, and the hardest part is behind. On the sheltered side the swimming is easy. I even stop for a quick break to look around. The last Km or so my arms feel very heavy and I just put one arm after the other.

I get to shore among lots of people and my little girls. It was easier than I expected. There’s a gentle breeze, the sun is shining. Good feelings.

Total distance: 4.44 km
Average speed: 3.02 km/h
Total time: 01:41:16
Download file: Swim-Elafonissi-Short19062019.gpx

The Falasarna Swim

After a winter of swimming in the rough sea, it was time for some calm waters.

A great day for a great swim. We went to the beautiful Falasarna beach, on Crete’s West coast, where I swam a good distance, 3.8km.

First around the offshore Limpet island, then to the WWII shipwreck in the Northern corner of the bay, then back to shore. The sea was super still, though the water temperature was still a bit cool for my taste. The water is crystal clear, and especially beautiful around Limpet island.

This is a great Open Water wild swim if you’re in West Crete.

Thanks to my support and video crew, you can see a short video of the swim:

Note about the GPS track: the gps was on the kayak, so while the route, total time and distance reflect my swim, the intervals will be different because the kayak was sometimes behind, sometimes in front of me.

Total distance: 3.72 km
Average speed: 2.68 km/h
Total time: 01:36:55
Download file: Swim-Falasarna-Island-Wetsuit-Short26052019.gpx

Wild west coast swim in Platanakia

On this day we went looking for a path above Sfinari to go over to the next bay that the taverna owner had told us about.

With Fiona and Giulia we set off exploring, and after over an hour we did get down to the beach of Platanakia. The path does seem to exist but it’s not well marked. We lost it at times and there was some scrambling in the maquis as well as some steep and slippery parts on gravel. A great little adventure!

We reached the beach around lunch time and went for a swim all together in the extremely clear water. Fiona and I wore mask and snorkel, Giulia came with goggles and we swam out a fair bit before Giulia got cold and turned back.

I went out again to extend the swim and find some very shallow rocks in the bay near the North side, an underwater arch, poseidonia beds, some small groupers and other fish. A wonderful, rewarding swim.

Then we had a picnic on the beach before walking back over the rocky ‘path’ back to Sfinari and the car.

Total distance: 0.95 km
Average speed: 2.08 km/h
Total time: 00:32:38
Download file: Swim-Platanakia-Snorkel-Hike.gpx

Swimming with hand paddles in Kissamos

It was a good day today, sea very flat and clear, even in Kissamos. I went for a longer swim and decided to put on hand paddles, which I haven’t used for a very long time. Went to Naya and back.

Total distance: 2.29 km
Average speed: 2.74 km/h
Total time: 00:53:42
Download file: Swim-Kissamos-Paddles-Short031018.gpx