Located 74km south of Heraklion, the Monastery of Koudoumas is situated on the western side of Cape Martelos and south of Kofinas Peak. To get there, you will have to travel a 20km long dirt road starting from the village Sternes, with stunning views as you descend from an altitude of 1000m to sea level. Once there, you will be welcomed by a beach with fine pebbles and crystal clear waters – perfect for swimming and peaceful moments (though nudism is not allowed). You can even camp by the beach, provided you do so in a discreet manner. Besides the monastery, there are no nearby facilities and so you are advised to bring all necessary supplies.
The Monastery of Koudoumas is dedicated to the Assumption, and was first built in the 14th century – although it was destroyed by pirates. It was later rebuilt by Saints Parthenios and Evmenios in 1878, and restored in modern times to reveal its original frescoes. A second, more modern church in honor of the two saints celebrates on July 10. During the annual celebration on August 15 and 10 July, many visitors stay at the beach and take part in the festivities. Explorers can also visit Cave Avakkospilio – where monks once lived – with its impressive decoration of stalactites, stalagmites and columns. It was once a site for worshipping a fertility goddess, and childless women were brought here. Alternatively, you could take the old path to the village Paranimfi, a 4-5 hour walk away.