Preveli beach and lagoon (Greek Λίμνη του Πρέβελη), sometimes known locally as “Palm Beach”, is located below the monastery, at the mouth of the Kourtaliótiko gorge. Behind the beach is an extensive glade of palm trees. The beach is regularly served by tourist boats from the nearby resort of Plakias. On August 22, 2010, a large proportion of the palm grove was destroyed in a fire but by 2011 had totally and rapidly naturally re-generated .
Despite fears that the palm grove was being believed that had been completely destroyed by this fire, now there are many positive signs that P. theophrasti not only is able generally to re-generate successfully but the oldest and youngest palms of this palm forest too, had been totally re-generated by the summer of 2011.
Preveli with its riverside palm-groves (burnt in the summer 2010, but regenerated at the moment) is one of the most famous and beloved beaches in Crete. Its name – and that of the broader region – is taken from the historical monastery nearby, dedicated to St. John the Theologian.
The forest of palms, covering some 10 acres, was the second largest of its sort in Crete (the first being at Vai in east Crete): it consists of this endemic form – the Theophrastus palm. Apart from these, there exists willows, oleanders, carobs, skina and reeds. The fire caused massive ecological damage. Fortunately the larger palms survived; and numbers of the smaller ones are putting out shoots, so that there is good hope that in a few years it will largely have grown back.
A walk on the bank or a pedalo up the river itself through the palms and oleanders and into the gorge is a quite unforgettable experience. At the mouth of the gorge, where the river Kourtaliotis ends in a delta, is the exquisite beach of Preveli. It has pale sands and a stony bottom to the crystalline water.
Preveli can be reached in a number of ways. If you have a car or a motorbike, set off from Plakias towards the Preveli Monastery – follow the signs and at 1.5 km after the Lower Preveli Monastery you will reach a flat area, which is used as a parking lot by visitors. From there runs a footpath which in 20 minutes will take you to the beach.