Vai Palm Forest
The palm forest , located at the North eastern part of Sitia, according to one of the local myths , were planted by Ptolemeon soldiers stationed at Vai Beach after consuming date fruit.
The palm trees are from the Theofrastus variety , that originally grew on the island of Crete, covering an area of approximately 220 acres. Considered as a an autonomous environmental district , it provides refuge to many birds during their travel from the South to North during spring and otherwise during autumn, who seek rest at the formed lake located North of the beach.
Younger Theofrastus Palm trees were planted due to an expansion programme so to protect the oasis . Although South East Crete is a climate hotspot known for its dry weather and small amount of rains, any visitor could immediately understand the reason why the Minoans and later the locals decided to establish several settlements such as Itanos (greek Ίτανος) North from Vai at this area.
The locals use the term Erimupoli (greek Ερημούπολη) which means “abandoned city”. According to local legends and history during the 9th century BC pirates invaded the settlement obliging its residents to leave. Walking threw a narrow route , from Vai Beach , the path follows the Cretan tearrain approaching isolated beaches of the Eastern Coast, ending at Maridati Beach.
Distance: 5,6 kilometres
Duration : aprox 3 hours