Rodakino, Crete, is a pristine beach in one of Crete’s most wild and unspoiled regions. Nature lovers will find many diversions and activities nearby, both by the sea and in the mountainous area of the region.
Everything You Need To Know About Rodakino, Crete
Where is Rodakino Located?
Rodakino is located in the southern part of the Regional Unit of Rethymnon. Rethymon is a fascinating area of Crete filled with culture, history, nature, and adventure. The south coast of Crete, on the Libyan Sea, is famous for its excellent beaches and its dramatic terrain.
How to Get to Rodakino, Crete
From Chania’s International Ioannis Daskalogiannis Airport, Rodakino is slightly less than two hours drive. From the Nikos Kazantzakis Airport in Heraklion, the drive is also slightly less than two hours. Whichever airport you choose, you will find a rental center conveniently located directly at the airport. Check the prices for car rental in Heraklion and car rental Chania airport with Rental Center Crete. If you choose to come by ferry, a car will meet you right at the port so you can be on the road in no time.
Although it is possible to reach Rodakino by the public KTEL bus service, this is a very remote location. If you do want to get there by bus, you can find schedules here. Look for buses to nearby Chora Sfakion.
The History of Rodakino
This is one of Crete’s wildest and most remote locations. A mountainous area that converges with the Libyan Sea, this is the land of shepherds and fisherman.
The people of southern Crete around Sfakia are known for their fierce independence of spirit. Therefore, the Venetians who conquered the island built a fortress in the 14th century to protect the noblemen and their properties from both pirates and the local population.
We know the castle as Frangokastello, but this was not its official name. The Venetians tried to name it the Fortress of St. Nikitas. But the name we use comes from the work “Franks”- the catholic foreigners- this was the name the local people gave the castle- an intrusion on their independence.
Sfakia flourished throughout both the Venetian and Ottoman occupations on account of their small fleet.
Geologically, this is challenging terrain. The terrain, defined by the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and the indomitable character of its people made this region a center of resistance against the Venetians, then the Ottomans, and finally against the Germans during WWII.
You can expect to find people of a proud and noble character in this part of Crete, one of the chief attractions of this wonderful region.
What to See and Do in Rodakino
Rodakino is a region for people interested in hiking, in wild nature and rough terrain. There are beautiful unspoiled villages to explore and to sample excellent local cuisine. There are world-famous hikes, and there are lovely beaches and secluded coves and ports.
Enjoy a Beach Holiday – Gorgeous Beaches near Rodakino
Generally speaking, the south coast of Crete is where to come for impressive beaches. The water of the Libyan Sea is crisper and more refreshing than the sea of the north coast, as it gets deeper more quickly. The waters are also incomparably clean. There is less tourism in this area as it takes more effort to reach, and so the travellers that do come here are rewarded with an unusually pristine and unspoiled natural setting and beaches less crowded than are found on the northern coast.
Rodakino is divided into Ano Rodakino – “Upper Rodakino” – inland and above sea level – and Kato Rodakino – “Lower Rodakino”- somewhat closer to the sea.
The beach below Rodakino is called Koraka – “crow” beach. It is a fine pebbled beach that takes its name from a rock formation at one end of the beach that is said to resemble a crow. The beach is long and organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, the waters are excellent, and there are simple tavernas and rooms right near the beach- the perfect place for a very relaxing holiday.
Less than a half hour’s drive to the east is Plakias beach. This long beachfront has sun loungers and umbrellas but you can also find shade under the tamarisk trees by the beach. You’ll also find facilities for watersports and nearby tavernas for some refreshment. At the east end of the beach, called Paligremnos, there are towering cliffs, popular with climbers.
Driving another 5 km will bring you Damnoni beach, similarly organized, with fine waters. If you are looking for some more privacy, explore the western end of the beach where you may find some remote coves.
To the west of Kato Rodakino, a 20 minute drive brings you to Frangokastello beach, a well-known sandy beach by the Venetian castle. Just west of Frangokastello beach is Vatalos, popular with snorkelers, and to the east of the castle are the great sand dunes of “Orthi Ammos”- which means “Sand standing upright”!
Just past Sfakia, and about 45 minutes from Rodakino, is Iligas beach. At the mouth of the Kavi gorge, there is a long beach. To the east of the main beach and accessible only by boat or by swimming are three other beaches, with sea caves in between.
Activities Around Rodakino
This is such exciting terrain for climbers. Serious climbers may enjoy canyoning in the Rodakino gorge, which is sometimes as narrow as 1.5 meters. The challenging gorge is only accessible with the use of canyoning equipment and is for experienced canyoners.
Accessible to anyone with incredible stamina and a sturdy pair of shoes is the world famous Samaria Gorge. To enjoy the gorge properly, you will want to enter at the top end at Xyloskalo, at an elevation of 1230 meters (organized buses can bring you from Sfakia to the beginning of the Samaria Gorge). The 16 km trek will bring you to the beaches of Agia Roumeli. Along the way through this national park, you will enjoy 70 plant and animal species specific to Crete, among the tremendous biodiversity of over 450 species altogether. The varied terrain brings you though lush woods and for some drama, the end of the gorge are rocky cliffs sometimes just 3 meters apart.
Boats will bring you from Agia Roumeli back to Sfakia, but along the way they stop at Loutro. Loutro itself is a wonder – a beautiful and tiny village arranged around its pristine harbor. You can only reach it by boat.
When the boat docks, supplies are transported by wheeled carts along the waterfront. With no cars and no loud music, you’ll hear just the sounds of the waves and will enjoy the pristine white island architecture. Have some fresh caught fish – the fisherman are proud of their catch.
Cultural Excursions around Rodakino
The Villages of Loutro and Sfakia both reward exploration for some insight into traditional culture. The food can be excellent, focusing on Cretan specialties.
The inland villages of the Rethymnon regional unit are also enchanting. To beat the heat of the stark beaches, drive just 40 minutes into the mountains to shady Spili. This traditional mountain village is shaded by trees and has the most marvellous fountain. Cold crisp mountain water flows with incredible force from the mouth of 25 carved stone lions. Splash yourself, fill some water bottles with the sweet mountain water, and treat yourself to some rustic local cuisine.
No trip to the south coast of Rethymnon is complete without a visit to Frangokastello. This romantic 14th century Venetian fortress on the beach looks like a dream. After the Venetians left, the Cretans used it in their valiant quest for freedom from the Ottomans. It is the site of a famous battle of 1828, where the Sfakiots were joined by forces from Epirus. Local lore, history, and a meteorological phenomenon unite each May, around the time of the battle, when the “Drossoulites” appear, images of the brave soldiers, called “The Men of Dew”.
Have you been to this part of Crete? If not, we hope that you enjoy our complete guide to Rodakino and the surrounding area.