Vai, or more specifically the palm forest of Vai, is one of the most popular sights in Crete and one of the most beautiful and special places in the whole Mediterranean.
Vai draws thousands of visitors each year. They come not only for its wonderful palm forest, but also for the large sandy beach spread out at its foot.
Vai was “discovered” by hippies who were turned out of Matala in the early 70s and sought a new refuge in the area. By the early 80s, Vai had become a permanent campsite and been transformed into vast rubbish tip.
n the 1980s Vai was decreed a protected area and cleaned up. Today it is considered one of the most beautiful parts of Crete and the beach has been awarded a Blue Flag by the European Union.
How to get to Vai
Vai is located 24 km east of Sitia and about 6 km from Palaikastro. The road from Sitia is generally good and you will have no trouble negotiating it.
Sitia is about 2 hours’ drive from Heraklion, and Vai is another 30 minutes further. From Sitia, take the road to Moni Toplou (Toplou Monastery) and continue another 8 km past the monastery to the palm forest.
If you are coming from Rethymno, it will take you 4 hours to get to Vai, while it is 4.5-5 hours’ drive from Chania.
Shortly after Vai is ancient Itanos or Erimoupoli, where excavations have brought many finds of the Minoan and Hellenistic periods to light. It’s worth stopping here if you’re not in a hurry.