Well after four visits over eleven years I thought it was time I should write a short guide to Malia, the liveliest resort in Crete.
First off, you don’t go to Malia for a quiet time. People have, and they have hated every minute, and consequently given the place a bad report. Don’t believe a word of it. Malia is located 30 miles east of Heraklion airport, on a small strip of coastal plain between the sea and the mountains of Lassithi.
Malia is a very young town, the average tourist is 23 years. Prices for food, drink and accommodation are nominal. It has a long sandy beach that now sits astride the small fishing port. The beach backs on to wall to wall bars and beach clubs, none of which charge a cvover fee or exclude anybody. Malia’s big plus is it’s openness and friendliness. As I have said, it does not cater well for children and older people. However it is very near the towns of Stalida and Gouves that do cater better for them.
So where is best for what?
For accomodation: Kristalli Apartments. Located at the upper end of the old town, this pleasent apartment complex is clean and presentable with it’s own pool and bar area. Or if you want somewhere further away from all the noise try Star Apartments, which has less amenities but the food is amazing. More on that in a bit.
For shopping: The main beach road has a good route of shops between the bars that are open late at night. You can buy as many souveniers for reasonable prices as you need. Thankfully, unlike Spain, none of the shops sell knives.
For authentic Greek Cuisine: Star Restaurant and Totto Lotto (old town) serve absolutely amazing Greek food from Stefido to grilled Octopus and the juciest Kleftiko I have ever tasted.
For people watching: Big Ben and Reflex on the beach road have raised areas where you can sit and watch the world wiggle by in it’s white stillettos and mini skirts. And thats just the men in drag.
To see the most amazing Flair Bartending try Electra Bar right at the bottom end of the beach road. Jannis and his boys have been balencing pints and bottles on their heads for as long as anybody can remember and they will have you dancing on the bar amid sambuca flames before you can say free shot.
For a boat trip we recommend the Sissi boat trip. A mini-bus transfers you to Malia port, where the boat picks you up. For this trip you need a good hat and a lot of sunscreen, because it gets very hot about midday. The boat stops at the hippy caves which were inhabited by our crusty cousins in the 60s. You can swim and snorkle there for an hour to cool off. From there the crew feed you an on-board barbeque of chicken, meat, bread and salad. Refreshments include soft drinks and alcohol, all at reasonable prices.
Sissi itself is a beautiful little fishing village, with a terrace on the sea front where you can watch the sun go down over an ice cold pint. As we explored the town we saw a huge birthday party in full swing. Greek families are usually huge, gregarious and very hospitable. We even found an Irish bar where we swapped notes with the owner over a glass of Tullamore Dew.
Best places for clubbing: Well it just has to be the beach road. Everywhere from Candy Club, to Banana and Malibu clubs just promise an uncomplicated good time.
In addition to the hardcore clubs you have smaller cheesy disco bars such as Squeeze and the George and Dragon, where you can practice lying on the floor without holding on. Tell Nikos and his boys I sent you.
For an after-clubbing drink or a light meal try Petrino’s restaurant, open 24 hours in the high season. About 5.00 am you may have to fight for a table. But it does great food just when you need it the most.
During the days we spent lazing on the beach we saw a lot of watersports available. I recommend Dolphin watersports, whom I have known for years. They take safety very seriously and don’t charge the earth.
Malia does have a lot of places renting mopeds and quad-bikes, unfortunately they seem to rent them out to any old idiot and we witnessed many accidents out there. The only surprise was that there wasn’t more. But as a responsible rental agents we recommend Hermes.
In conclusion, it is a great place to be young. Many brits work out there and soon find out it is more work than play, but I did it in 1998 and I still keep in contact with my old Greek comrades. Heroes to a man.
Malia is cheap, lively and rather sexy. But not the place you would take your mum and dad, or younger children.
How to get there: http://www.olympicairlines.com