I recently took an impromptu trip to Crete with a friend. Due to the lateness of booking, our options were limited and we ended up in Kato Gouves, a resort I had passed many times before, but never visited. I was expecting a typical Greek seaside village, but in reality, it’s quite different – in good and bad ways.
Before we arrived, I’d taken the time to study the area on Google Maps to get a feel for the layout of Kato Gouves. It’s quite a small resort but spread out over a fairly large stretch of coastline, sitting between Agia Pelagia in the east, and Gouves in the west. The main resort beach is on the western end and backs onto the Astir Beach Hotel, but there are several smaller beaches further east.
Our accommodation, Ourania Apartments (check out my review), was at the eastern end of the village, half-way between the old main road and the coast, and provided a comfortable and friendly base. Within a 5 minute walk, you could find a small supermarket and several tavernas, plus a small beach. Journey a little further (turn right when you hit the coastline) and there is a larger beach in front of the GDM Island Hotel that is less crowded, plus a few more eateries as you then head back inland again.
Over the week we were there, what struck me as unusual was the lack of a focal centre to the resort. Most Greek seaside towns and villages have the main harbour or beachfront area, and typically all of the tourist shops and restaurants are found there. Although Kato Gouves does have a marina, there’s not much around it aside from the main beach to the west. To find most of the tavernas you have to venture inland towards the old main road. It isn’t a huge problem, but it does make the resort feel devoid of much atmosphere. Most evenings we went out to eat, we simply strolled back to our apartment afterwards because there was nowhere good to sit and chill.
I put this down to the mixture of self-contained apartments – that I suspect are booked up year-on-year by returning guests who like the peace and quiet – and tourists who stay in all-inclusive hotels and probably never venture outside.
We still had a great time, but I’m not sure I’ll be rushing back.