The 5 best snorkeling boat trips in the North of Crete

The sea of Crete is perfect for snorkeling because of its signature crystal-clear waters. Crete makes up the 5th largest island of the Mediterranean region, and its seashore boasts areas with visibility of up to 30 meters.

In the following article, I will list the 5 best snorkeling boat tours that you can find in the north of Crete. 3 of these spots are included in the European Natura 2000 project that protects their biodiversity, wherefore these areas are becoming more and more relevant and interesting every year. 

On this map you can see where the snorkeling spots are located.

On this map you can see where the snorkeling spots are located.

To make it clearer, I have circled the areas with different colours, which you will also find in the titles. Therefore, if you are interested in a specific area, you can click below and go directly to the paragraph you are interested in.

Red: Boat trip with snorkeling to Balos and Gramvousa 

Blue: Snorkeling boat trip to the Theodorou and Lazaretta Islands

Green: Snorkeling boat trip to Empros Yialo e Drepano

Pink: Sailboat trip with snorkeling to Dia Island

Yellow: Boat trip with snorkeling to Spinalonga Island

Boat trip with snorkeling to Balos and Agria Gramvousa

The ship is about to dock on Balos beach during a snorkel boat trip in Crete.
©Cretan Daily Cruises

This boat tour takes you to explore a magnificent stretch of land protected by the European Natura 2000 programme, which is located in the far north-west of the island. This area, which includes the Balos peninsula and the island of Agria Gramvousa, is home to the monk seal, one of the most endangered animals in the world, and the loggerhead sea turtle (better known as Caretta caretta). Other animals such as wild goats can be easily spotted and are amongst the most photographed features of Balos.

Starting from the port of Kissamos, there will be an hour’s cruise to the island of Agria Gramvousa. Here, there will be a first stop of 2 hours. The sea in this part of Crete is simply fantastic. There won’t be any snorkeling equipment onboard, so you’ll want to bring your own, because once you arrive, you won’t be able to resist snorkeling. 

The lagoon of Balos is unique and special because it consists of a peninsula. A narrow strip of sand with sunbeds and parasols divides the sea. On the one side, the water is very shallow and warm, with few fishes, but perfect for taking a dip up to your knees or letting children play safely. On the other side, it is deeper, more colourful and suitable for snorkeling

Moreover, while there is another beach in Crete that is very famous for its pink sand – i.e. Elafonisi, Balos also has stretches of pink sand, turning this bay into a simply magical place.  In any case, you will have 3 hours here to swim and appreciate the sea and the beach. 

Highlights of the trip:

  • Easy access to Balos Beach and the lagoon
  • Natura 2000 protected site 
  • Two long stops for snorkeling 

Snorkeling boat trip to the Theodorou and Lazaretta Islands

During a snorkeling boat trip to Theodorou and Lazaretta Islands, participants pose with mask, snorkel and fins.
©Blue Adventures Diving Chania

This boat trip takes you to two fantastic snorkeling spots near Chania: Theodorou and Lazaretta islands. In addition to the marine wildlife, in Theodorou you can get to know the friendly wild Kri-Kri goats that roam the island, hence its nickname: Kri-Kri Island.

As this tour is operated by a scuba diving centre, you will be given a detailed explanation of the area where you are going to snorkel in before departing. The instructor will also explain how to use your equipment: mask, fins, snorkel, shorty and wetsuit, so even beginners will be able to enjoy the clear blue sea of Crete. 

After about 25 minutes, you will reach the first snorkeling spot. Once you have admired the fish and the underwater landscape, you can relax on the boat, eat a snack and drink some water, all of which are provided free of charge by the diving centre. Later, you will head to another spot and snorkel for a second time.

Highlights of the offer:

  • Snorkeling equipment included
  • Food and drinks on the boat free of charge 
  • Guide’s briefing about the snorkeling spots
  • Group size: only 12 participant

Snorkeling boat trip to Empros Yialo and Drepano

During a boat snorkeling excursion at Empros Yialo and Drepano, a family snorkels while someone takes their picture from below.
©Evelin Dive Center

The area of Kefalas, which includes the two snorkeling spots: Empros Yialo and Drepano,  is also part of the Natura 2000 project for the preservation of its biodiversity and protection of its irreplaceable natural value.

Just like the snorkeling experience at Theodorou and Lazaretta Islands described above, the snorkeling experience at Empros Yialo and Drepano is also organised by a scuba diving centre. As such, the focus of this trip is also more on snorkeling and less on the actual boat ride. 

Upon arrival at the dive center in Rethymno, there will be a briefing on equipment, water safety and the spots you are going to visit which, depending on water and weather conditions, may vary. Equipment, as well as snacks on board the boat are included in the price. This way, you don’t have to carry masks and flippers around and can enjoy snorkeling with top quality equipment. 

Highlights of the offer:

  • Snorkeling equipment included
  • Food and drinks on the boat free of charge 
  • Guide’s briefing about the snorkeling spots
  • Group size: only 6 participants

Sailboat trip with snorkeling to Dia Island

During a sailing trip to the island of Dia, a child enjoys snorkeling.
©Altersail Heraklion

The island of Dia is a hidden jewel of Crete. Furthermore, this island is also part of the Natura 2000 European project and its waters are protected by numerous regulations. As a protected area, the island is uninhabited and has few tourists. This has allowed the island to maintain its wild and unspoilt nature, making it one of the best places to snorkel in Crete.

This sailing tour combines the pleasure of a boat trip with only 10 passengers, a typical dinner on board and a 1.5 hour break on the island to snorkel and enjoy the underwater landscape of Crete. 

Snorkeling equipment is not provided, so you will need to bring your own, but it is totally worth it. If you don’t want to travel with too much equipment, a mask, and snorkel will be enough, as you won’t need to swim very far to see numerous small fish below you.  Furthermore, on the way back, there is a high probability of seeing dolphins.

Highlights of the offer:

  • Protected natural area
  • Dinner included 
  • Group size: only 10 participants

Boat trip with snorkeling to Spinalonga Island

A photo was taken during a boat trip while snorkeling on the island of Spinalonga.
©Nostos Cruises Crete

The island of Spinalonga carries a long history. Inhabited since the time of the ancient Greeks, it later became a Venetian fortress, the walls of which can still be seen. At one point, it was also occupied by the Ottomans and later it became a place of exile for lepers. The island now attracts large crowds of tourists due to its historical sites and unspoilt beaches with rich marine life. 

Starting from Agios Nikolaos, you can join a wonderful boat trip to the island of Spinalonga. The first stop of the tour will be after 1 hour of sailing. You will have a 1 and a half hour break where you can explore the Venetian fortification and, after lunch, there will be another stop for snorkeling in the bay of Kolokytha, the most famous bay on the island.

You will have to bring your own snorkeling equipment, but a delicious lunch will be included. 

Highlights of the offer:

  • Protected natural area
  • Lunch included 
  • Group size: only 10 participant
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