East of Malia, the seaside resorts of Agios Nikolaos and Elounda can be visited aboard excursion boats, offering one-day cruises departing from Malia Port. In contrast, 37km (23 miles) west of Malia lies Crete’s capital, Heraklion, a busy port city great for shopping and urban café life, but probably best known for its excellent Archaeological Museum displaying Minoan finds from the 4,000 year-old Palace of Knossos, which lies just 5km (3 miles) southeast of Heraklion and is also more than worth a visit.
Malia has been Crete’s prime party resort since the late 1980s. Its reputation was, and still is, based on British 18-30s on package deals in search of sea, sand and sunshine, plus cheap booze and all-night discos. The old village of Malia lies on the main road linking Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos, which runs above but parallel to the sea. From here, several narrow side roads lead down to recent beachside developments, including mid-range hotels (many with small outdoor pools), self-catering apartments and rooms to rent, eateries, bars and clubs. The 2km (1-mile) stretch of coast is made up of a series of sandy beaches with seasonal bars and watersport facilities. Malia Port, a short distance east of the centre, is filled with excursion boats offering one-day cruises. Despite Malia’s reputation for drunken young Brits, it remains a more stylish resort than the likes of Kavos on Corfu, and the majority of establishments are well kept and appear relatively prosperous. Don’t let the party resort reputation stop you from visiting. It has a real brit feel, so if you want home from home, but with sunshine and plenty of action, it’s a good place to be.
Malia boasts one of the best beaches on Crete. There are two beaches – one of which is much quieter than the other. But both are sandy. Malia grew up along a 2km-long (1 mile) stretch of coast punctuated by a series of sandy beaches. The larger beaches have snack bars, beach volleyball, sunbeds and umbrellas for hire, and watersports facilities including banana boats, doughnut rings, jet-skiing, waterskiing and bungee jumping. A little like Blackpool with sun, again don’t let this put you off. Malia’s beaches are really good for kids, though some people might consider the resort too noisy and chaotic for children.
A trip to the Minoan Palace of Malia, a 4,000 year-old archaeological site similar to the better-known Minoan Palace of Knossos, near Heraklion, is well worth a visit. It lies just 2km (1 mile) east of Malia, and there is a peaceful sandy beach nearby.
There are a couple of good water parks nearby. A 10-minute drive west of Malia lies Star Beach Water Park, complete with pools, waterslides, a lazy river, music bars with guest DJs and foam parties, a great beach offering waterskiing, parasailing and scuba-diving, plus a spa centre. A 20-minute drive southwest of Malia, Acqua Plus (7km/4 miles south of Hersonissos on the road to Kasteli) is set in gardens on a hill near Crete Golf Course and offers a giant adventure pool, a lazy river, slides and sports extensive facilities.