The quaint fishing village on Mirabello Bay offers easy access to some of Crete’s best destinations, while also offering you a peaceful stay in a beautiful location.
Where is Mochlos, Crete Located?
When you look up Mochlos you’ll find two locations – the lovely fishing village, and the tiny island that shares its name, less than 200 meters from the shore.
Mochlos is on Mirabello Bay, the gorgeous bay of the Lassithi Regional Unit and a famous destination for its excellent seas and stunning resorts. It’s about a 45 minute drive east along the bay from Agios Nikolaos, and less than an hour and a half from Heraklion, the island’s capital.
How to Get to Mochlos
If you are arriving at the Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport of Heraklion, you’ll find a car rental directly at the airport, so you can be on the road in no time. Heraklion airport is conveniently located directly by the main highway that crosses the northern coast of Crete.
If you’re arriving by ferry to the port of Heraklion, a car can be waiting for you so you can be on the road as soon as you disembark.
The History of Mochlos
Mochlos is located in one of the most fascinating regions of Crete, rich with history. Of course, like much of Crete, this area is rich with the history of the Minoans, Crete’s advanced civilization of the Bronze age. Remnants of Minoan life can even be found on the tiny island of Mochlos, first excavated at the beginning of the 20th century. A significant settlement dates to approximately 3000 BC. And of course, it is located roughly between two of the Minoan Palaces – Knossos the most famous, and that of Kato Zakros.
Mirabello Bay sounds Italian rather than Greek, and it is indeed an Italian name, given by the Venetians, who settled here and made salt pans. Before their arrival, these seas and the shores were under the control of pirates.
What to See and Do in Mochlos?
There is so much to see and do around Mochlos. Nearby Agios Nikolaos is a fantastic harbor town to explore. In fact, it has two harbors – that of the sea, and that of the beautiful lake Voulismeni.
Agios Nikolaos is full of unspoiled charm, and it feels like visiting a Crete of decades past. Mochlos lies roughly midway between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia, Crete’s easternmost town, which is also a worthwhile destination and near many nature activities.
The Sitia Geopark – part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks, is an enormous expanse – over 500 square kilometers – of nature preserves. These include many different ecosystems and biotopes, meadows, ravines, gorges, and waterfalls.
Beaches Near Mochlos Crete
If you enjoy beaches then you have definitely come to the right place because some of Crete’s most fantastic beaches are right here on Mirabello bay. This part of Crete is famous for its pristine turquoise waters.
Mochlos has its own simple beach right in the town which is very convenient. 400 meters to the west is Limenaria, a more isolated choice, and somewhat protected from the waves.
To the west are several famous beaches, including – west to east – Ammoudara beach, Voulisma Beach, Pachia Ammos (“thick sand”), and Tholos Beach. Ammoudara is a full-service beach where you will find sunbeds, loungers, beach bars for snacks, and facilities for water sports. You’ll find the same conveniences at Voulisma Beach in nearby Istron – the beach actually has two names, Voulisma or Golden Beach, for its beautiful sands. Tholos beach is a mow wild beach.
The beaches of the south coast of Crete are also easily accessible and they make a fantastic destination. These beaches are famous for their more wild character and untouched beauty, as the south coast is much less populated and less visited. Many are found near Ierapetra, the main town of the south east coast. Makrygialos is one of the most famous.
Activities Near Mochlos
The beaches of Mirabello Bay are a fantastic place to try out some water sports, such as at the facilities of the beaches named above. This is also a great place to have your first taste of diving. The Mediterranean View Diving Center offers a fantastic guided diving experience for first-timers. They also can arrange a hybrid experience – a private boat excursion around the highlights of the beautiful bay, followed by a dive.
It’s hard to tear yourself away from the gorgeous beaches of Eastern Crete, but you will be well-rewarded if you do. The Lassithi regional unit has some of the most fantastic hiking in Crete. Very close to Mochlos is the Richtis Gorge, which follows a stream through a densely wooded area dotted with abandoned watermills and punctuated with a magical waterfall and pool for a refreshing mid-hike dip. The Zakros Gorge – also called the Valley of the Dead – is another fantastic hike. It’s part of the E4, and the mystery of its name will be revealed below.
Cavers also love this region – there are about 300 mapped caves in Lassithi. Some of the better known are Oxo Latsidi Cave, Katofigi cave, Vriko Cave, and Apoloutres Cave. All of these can be reached within an hour and a half or less. But do note, the conditions are not always for amateurs – some of them are best for experienced cavers and some require special equipment.
Proceed with caution and get information from local authorities before setting off. There are also more accessible caves to visit, such as the very famous Dikteon Cave – otherwise known as the cave of Zeus – which is just over an hour and a half away.
The drive to the south coast of Crete is not a long one. Ierapetra is just over a half an hour away. Here, you can catch a boat to Chrissi island. This paradise of an uninhabited island in the Libyan sea is famous for bright jewel-toned waters and silky sands.
The island is covered by rare Lebanese Cedar trees. This is a wonderful escape, an exotic island at the southern edge of Europe.
Cultural Excursions Near Mochlos
Spinalonga – The Leper Island
There are so many fascinating cultural activities to enjoy near Mochlos. The first is Spinalonga Island. This richly fortified island just off the coast in Mirabello Bay is a beautiful Venetian monument and was once one of the most significant fortresses of all the Mediterranean basin. It stood watch over the Venetian’s salt pans. It also had a very significant role in more recent history, as a famous leper colony in the earlier part of the 20th century.
This phase of Spinalonga’s history is immortalized in the famous book by Victoria Hislop – “The island”. A museum set among the ruins shares the inspiring story of the island’s Leper Colony.
Zakros Gorge – Valley of the Dead
The Valley of the Dead in the gorge of Zakros mentioned above got its name in a very special way – the Minoans once laid their dead to rest in caves high along the walls of the gorge in a place of great honor. Those Minoans dwelled in the Palace of Kato Zakros, in the town of the same name. It is a wonderful archaeological experience and a place of rare positive energy. You can enjoy a classic taverna meal right by the sea in one of the most peaceful beaches of all Crete here.
Do you enjoy a culture with a glass of wine on the side? Then the Toplou Monastery, near the palm forest of Vai, is for you. The monastery itself is incredibly impressive, with its 10 meter high walls and 30 meter high belfry. There is an excellent collection of icons dating from the 15th century and onward. After exploring the monastery, you can enjoy the finest regional products alongside excellent wines vinted at the monastery, and even sample their superb raki.
Exploring Mochlos, Crete
Mochlos Crete makes a terrific home base for exploring Sitia by car. The drives are all beautiful and many of them short. This charming seaside village is also an excellent destination in itself for a quiet holiday in one of the loveliest regions of Crete.