Tobruk beach in Heraklion


By Martin Coates

“. . . Crete , with its miles of unspoilt and secluded beaches . . .”

I must explain why this question arose on my first visit this season to the normally beautiful sandy beach at Tobruk. Many years of experience has proved to my good lady, Sue, and myself that a daily walk along the length of the beach from Tobruk to the Heraklion airport headland offers three major benefits:

tobruk beach heraklion-1. The soft, but coarse sand is good for the normally shoe-ridden feet and is physically quite demanding for the brisk walker, assuring complete evacuation from the system of the previous night’s raki and Metaxa.

-2. It makes for a healthy appetite and renewed thirst, easily satiated on return to Tobruk, where Alexander’s beach-side bar and restaurant is situated.

-3. Over a two-week holiday, the 30-minute walk each way, Tobruk-Airport-Tobruk, ensures an overall even exposure, but not over-exposure, to Crete ‘s magnificent sun.

So, then, why the question, you may ask? This year that same walk takes 90 minutes roundtrip, not 60 minutes any more!

Is this due, perhaps, to some miraculous engineering feat contrived by the local Demos, beavering away with picks, shovels and machinery to extend the beach? Guess again!

Ignoring, if possible, the numerous beach bars, hundreds of rental boats and canoes, public showers and changing huts, wind-breaks and decorative oil-drums (I think they’re for rubbish, but apparently no-one else does) there is an immense forest of umbrellas and a plague of sun-beds and enough tables to provide a sit-down dinner for the entire population of Crete, locals and tourists included!

tobruk beach heraklion

To negotiate this lot during your walk along the beach requires the agility of a ballet dancer, the dogged determination of a marathon runner, footballer’s shin-guards and a crash helmet – the metal rims of the umbrellas are set at a height to crack your skull or smash your teeth, the bamboo coverings ready to whisk off your glasses or lacerate your ears.

Greeks love their facts and figures, so this is for them:

Public Beach 1,450 629 668
Minoan Palace 362 99 72
TOTALS 1,812 728 740

At the height of the day, when we collated these figures, of the 362 hotel beds, 150 were occupied (remember, these from the hotel and are free of charge). Of the 1450 public beds rented for a fee, 89 (!!!) were occupied.

tobruk beach heraklionAdditional beds were still being laid out as we added up the figures, five to each umbrella, ensuring three cases of acute sunburn per umbrella per day. By the end of August, it is safe to assume that the beach will be completely impenetrable, save for the inland row of beds; the remainder covered with junk and scorched bodies.

Next year we shall maybe have to find another beach . . . Arina Sand beach? Ah, maybe not that one, since at last glance it seems to be erecting a seaside tenement to rival Tobruk. Gouves? Perhaps not. Hmmmmm. Let’s have another look at the holiday brochures . . . Crete , with its miles of unspoilt and secluded beaches . . .

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