Gavdos is a small island opposite Chora Sfakion. There have been reports of high percentages of nudity on the beaches there for some time, but a contributor has sent some very interesting details of the situation on Gavdos during the summer of 2005, in particular as regards the best known naturist beach, Ag. Ioannis, and a nearby less frequented one, Lavrakas.
Ferries to Gavdos depart from Hora Sfakion, Paleochora, Sougia, Loutro and Plakias. There are two companies that service this line: Anendyk, which has a ferry that can carry vehicles (see the schedule here)
2011: Ferry services can be easily affected by the weather. There only needs to be a strong breeze and the ferries are cancelled. Also it is advisable to buy, not make a reservation but BUY your ferry ticket a day or better still two days early if you are there in the busy season (August). This Barefooter thought it is best to get your ticket from the booths at the port itself.
This is on the north side of Gavdos, facing Crete. Board the community bus from the tiny port to Ag. Ioannis (roughly once every hour). The bus passes from Sarakiniko beach (now lost to "civilization") and continues on a gravel road until it reaches a taverna/mini-market. This is the campers’ sole source of water, food and supplies. Ag Ioannis beach is a further 15 min walk towards the west (keeping the sea to the right).
My contributor rates this as definitely one of the top 3 beaches he has ever visited (including the Caribbean and Red Sea). He is not alone; other reporters have listed it as their favourites. It’s about 500 metres long, and quite wide. The water is crystal clear with blue-green hues and it's all sandy at the bottom. If you start walking towards the back of the beach, the first 20 metres are flat sand, then there are sand dunes with cedar trees, then pine trees and rocky cliffs towards the back of the beach. In some ways it reminds him of Elafonissos. There are dozens of old cedars one can use as shade. People on the beach are usually friendly (if you make the first step), but he suggests you keep your money on you - a waist pouch is very useful.
Ag. Ioannis gets crowded during the last week of June until the 15th of August. People even set up tents in the blazing sun in the middle of the beach. Best time would be before or after that.
Nudism can be as low as 70% during peak period, but is close to 100% at all other times.
This is to the west of Ag. Ioannis. There are two ways to get there from Ag. Ioannis:
1) Follow the coast. My correspondent’s preferred route. It takes about 30 minutes. You have to go waist deep into water at some point, but it's OK if you travel light. You can only take this route when the weather is good.
2) Climb up the rocks at the back of Ag. Ioannis and follow the paths. People on the beach should be able to provide instructions. Ask someone who goes there often (you can tell by their living quarters). It takes about 30-40 minutes if you don't get lost. My correspondent did, but it was very easy to find his way. It's a small island after all, and Crete is always visible so you know which way is North!
In terms of natural beauty this beach is not as good as Ag. Ioannis, but there are other things to make up for that. It's a flat beach with cedars, but the number of good spots to set up a tent is limited to maybe a dozen. Access to the sea is also somewhat limited, as you have to find a passage between the big rocks. It's great for snorkelling though! The best thing on Lavrakas is the well. A couple who stayed there for some time dug a well about 2 metres deep, which lets you access fresh, chilled, drinkable water! You still have to go 45 minutes to get food from the taverna/minimarket (and another 45 to come back), but if you plan right and you cook your food you can last for a week easily.
On August 2010 a second well had been constructed closer to the sea. This one has an open end, which allows people to easily get fresh water and shower.
My correspondent left Ag. Ioannis when the crowds hit that beach (early August) and went to Lavrakas. Needless to say, it's not affected by the waves of tourists, since access is not easy. However, he met people from Ag. Ioannis who made the trip daily to get fresh water, but that's hardly a problem.
Nudism: everyone swims naked; maybe a few go around the beach with a piece of cloth round their waist.
If you follow the coast line from Lavrakas further to the West, you will find another small, totally deserted sandy beach. It is a 30 min hike from Ag. Ioannis which can also be done in the nude.
This may be the most beautiful beach of Gavdos. Huge sandy beach, a few tents (4 in September 2006) under cedars trees, amazing canyons on the back worth exploring. 100% naturist, with no more than 10 people spread in this 500m beach, practically deserted. No facilities at all, of course.
Ιn the canyon there is still some water dripping from the clay cliffs (Potamos means "river", so there must have been a river there in the past) and the campers (that keep coming back for years in this place) have found some very creative ways to collect this water and use it for cooking and showering. We were told the water is not potable.
One reporter reached this beach with two hours of difficult walk from Lavrakas (and Pyrgos), out of any trail. The easiest way to get there is by boat, but there is also a trail beginning from the settlement of Ampelos.
You will see a sign pointing to "Ποταμος" (Potamos). The path begins as a very rough gravel road. Maybe a 4-wheel car can use it but also bear in mind that it is very steep. The gravel road ends at something that looks like a small plateau and at that point it is very easy to miss the path (it has happened to me once); it continues on your left hand side passing through an open wooden gate. Watch out for the small piles of stones that mark the trail. In general it is not a difficult hike. Only towards the end it gets quite narrow and slippery and you are in steep place, thus you should be very careful. Sneakers or climbing shoes are strongly recommended.
Tripiti cape is the most southerly point in Gavdos and is claimed to be the most southerly point of Europe as well. The beach has large pebbles and is definitely not the best one in Gavdos, but it is quiet, as not many people go there, and the setting is wonderful.
There are two ways to get to Tripiti. The first one is to hire a small boat to get you there and arrange to pick you up later. Ask around at the tavernas and you will be given more info about who can take you there and how much it will cost. The second way is to take the community bus and go to Korfos and then continue on the marked path of 4 Km that takes you to the beach. The path goes up and down, but it is not a difficult one. Maybe it is not recommended for small children.
There are absolutely no facilities at the beach (so take plenty of water! Your last chance to do so is at the tavernas in Korfos) but there is a landmark there that you should visit: at the edge of the cape there is a huge chair reading "Southern Point Of Europe" (sic!). From that point you have a magnificent view of the Libyan sea.
August 2011: This Barefooter spent 10 days on Gavdos and loved every minute. All the beaches mentioned above are very good but I am surprised nothing has been reported about Sarakiniko (I added the title above). This is the beach between the port and Ag. Ioannis and I think the first stop of the bus from the port. It has several tavernas, some basic accommodation and a good general store. This is a long beach and it was very nice to be able to walk the length of the beach naked. The southern end (?) where most of the tavernas are has wonderful crystal clear shallow water that sloped away very gently. Fine sand and even some small shells. Felt like almost all of the people were Greeks and 90% naked. Very relaxed with several families and 50/50 male and female. A large number of people but without feeling crowded at all. Limited shade, freshwater shower, most visitors camp amongst the many trees behind the beach. Some clad visitors and families spread out along the rest of the beach. This Barefooter liked all the beaches on Gavdos but was happy to return to Sarakiniko.