A safe natural harbour on the Bay of Messara, blessed with a gently sweeping sand and pebble beach, Matala is the place in legend where Zeus swam ashore in the guise of a bull with Europa on his back. Many people make this village their base for Cretan holidays, as it is so central on the south coast, and away from the over-development of the north coast. The beach is 250m long and 45m wide.
Matala has something for everyone. Although it has become a popular tourist destination it still retains the charm and character of the quiet fishing village it started as at the beginning of the 20th-century, and the laid-back lifestyle of the hippies of the 60’s and 70's lives on. Half the beach is fringed by tamarisk trees, leading the eye on to impressive formations of sandstone rock cliffs with their famous caves sliding into the sea at an odd angle, creating one of the most unusual beachscapes on the island.
At the beach there are sport facilities as well as activities for children, and if you would like to go further afield you can also rent a car, bicycles and motorbikes. Yet all this is only 65 km from Heraklion.