Kournas Lake is the only freshwater lake in Crete. Lake Kournas was known as Lake Koressia in antiquity but later took its current name from the Arabic word for lake.
The lake is in a beautiful landscape, lying in a valley among the hills, about 4 km from Georgioupolis in Chania Prefecture (west Crete).
Lake Kournas is relatively small, with a maximum length of 1,087 m and a maximum breadth of 880 m. It covers an area of 579,000 sq. m. and is generally shallow, 22.5 m at its deepest point, while it lies approximately 20 m above sea level.
Kournas Lake is the ideal place for an afternoon walk or a daytrip nearby. Many people like to have an afternoon picnic there. The landscape is lovely and relaxing, whether you want to go for a walk in the countryside, swim or ride a pedalo on the lake.
There are two springs on the southeast bank, one of which, the Mati or Amati (“eye”) as the locals call it, is visible in late summer. The lake is fed by streams from the nearby mountains and hills, whose underground courses are interrupted by the local bedrock on the way to the sea.
The ecosystem of Kournas Lake
Lake Kournas and its environs are protected under Natura 2000.
The lake, an important wetland, is home to ducks and , eels, water snakes and a rare species of bicoloured terrapin with a patterned shell, the Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemysterrapin).
Herons and cormorants also sometimes appear on the lake.
Recently there have been reports of large goldfish appearing in Lake Kournas, as somebody dumped them there without considering the results of introducing a new species to a closed ecosystem.
Video of a dive in Lake Kournas
How to get to Kournas Lake
Lake Kournas is easily reached from Georgioupoli – you can take the country road from the village without going on the national road. Ask for Mathé’s taverna, pass it and continue to the lake.
Be careful as you approach the lake, as you may see signs about 400 m before it, pointing either straight ahead or right. These are sometimes even set side by side. Don’t worry, you can approach the lake from either direction.