SPECIAL FEATURED BEACH REPORT by Sunlover
If, like most people who visit Crete, you stay in the north of the island, a trip to Sougia or any of the south coast beaches, requires some thought: "Can I really be bothered to drag myself away from the hotel pool with its loungers and parasols, the bar just a stroll away and a dozen tavernas and gift shops across the street? Can I summon up the energy?" Well if you don't, you're missing out on another side of Crete, both literally and figuratively. Hire yourself a car; the drive across the mountainous spine of the island is in itself reason enough to get away from the crowded coastal strip in the north. The views to the distant sea are beautiful and alluring, beckoning you on while at the same time inviting you to stop and listen to the silence, a silence often broken only by the tinkling of the bells that the wandering sheep and goats wear like oversized necklaces. Every so often you will pass through small villages all of which seem to have the obligatory bar on the main street, each with the obligatory group of old Greek men sitting round a table by the door. Drive by and they will implacably watch you pass, but wave and they will return the greeting before resuming their contemplation of the world.
You approach Sougia after just such a drive. After winding back down through the hairpin bends, the sea suddenly appears in the distance at the bottom of the last V-shaped valley and eventually you pass a few signs advertising accommodation before entering the village itself. You can hardly get lost in Sougia; the road ends at a T junction with only the beach in front of you. If you turn right you drive past several beachside restaurants until the road ends at what appears to be a harbour, although there were no boats to be seen when we were there. If on the other hand you turn left, you will drive past a few more restaurants and apartments until the road turns in to a track which winds along at the rear of the long, open beach that opens up before you.
Our first impressions were much the same as when we saw Elafonissi for the first time: Where's the nude beach? However we were hot after our drive and, after parking on the final bit of tarmac, decided to walk on along the track anyway, past several camper vans of varying vintage, including a few ubiquitous VW Campers and the odd tent. The place had a pleasantly hippy, laid back atmosphere which was enhanced by someone hidden under canvas who was trying to pick out an unrecognisable, but none the less, evocative melody on an acoustic guitar.
The beach is enclosed in a wide bay with rocky headlands at either side, and is entirely made up of smooth pebbles with no sand to speak of. Despite there being a few sun beds, most people seemed to be ignoring them and we decided to follow suit and pass them by too. It wasn't until we had walked for a hundred metres or so that we saw our first naked figure, a suntanned girl standing under a beach shower unconcernedly rinsing the sea water and suntan lotion from her golden skin. Suitably encouraged we turned and headed for the sea. Subsequently we've learned that the recognised nudist section of the beach lies at the far end of the bay but on the day we were there it began over a more gradual spectrum; fully clothed near the village, then topless a little further along, next the occasional naked form in amongst the more reserved bathers until from the central section almost everyone was completely naked. We certainly didn't have to walk too far before we were able to take our clothes off and join them.
Although the beach isn't sandy, the pebbles and stones are smooth and flat and not too uncomfortable to lie on, although it shelves quite steeply into the sea at its edge and can be a little painful to the soles of the feet when going for a swim. A pair of cheap flip flops are useful for this purpose as the waves and exposed nature of the long beach make swimming refreshing rather than relaxing. A very pleasant sensation though when naked. Why do people wear swimming costumes? They don't know what they're missing.
With the bay being so long, even though there were quite a number of people there, it didn't feel at all crowded. However as it's so open with no dunes to shelter in, you haven't got to mind being completely exposed to all who may care to look and, especially as it's mixed nude and non nude, there were inevitably one or two spectators. This didn't seem to perturb anyone although I suppose it could be a bit daunting if you were going nude in public for the first time. It certainly didn't seem to bother the more carefree souls who walked across the width of the beach to the shower, one couple even sharing it and uninhibitedly washing each other's naked bodies. One thing that did strike both of us though was the disproportionate number of nude women to men. In our experience there are often more men on a nude beach than women, maybe because men are more exhibitionist, but on the day we visited Sougia nude females far out numbered nude males. There were nude women by themselves, in twos and threes, and even larger groups, and the conclusion that my wife and I came to was that because the beach has such a tranquil, easy going air about it that maybe a girl would feel very much at ease here without clothes even though unaccompanied. After some casual people watching we also decided that at least some of the females were possibly lesbian although, apart from one girl who languidly and somewhat erotically massaged sun tan lotion into the back and shoulders of another nude girl, they might have been office workers who had come down to the beach over their lunch hour. However the fact that the words 'office', 'lunch hour' and 'Sougia' could never be uttered in the same breath convinced us that more then a few of the women preferred the company of their own sex to that of the conspicuously absent males.
Whatever your sexual preference it matters not one iota and Sougia is a place that should be visited, or more correctly, experienced if you get the opportunity. It's worth the journey over that mountainous road.
Submitted by Sunlover, (November 2005)