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TRIP OVERVIEW

7 days
Yoga and Swimming
3km/day

Trip Dates

20 Oct - 26 Oct, 2019
Full

Download trip notes

Tour Highlights

  • Take part in an adventurous swim yoga retreat exploring exquisite coastlines on the idyllic Greek island of Crete

  • Swim in the crystal clear waters of one of the Mediterranean's most southernmost islands

  • Energise yourself with morning yoga practice and restorative evening sessions

  • Take in the dramatic views of Crete's coastal cliffs and stunning 'White Mountains' which rise to over 2,400 metres

  • Relax in beautiful accommodation at Hotel Porto Loutro on the Hill at the end of each day

Discover the stunning coastlines and crystal clear waters of one of Europe’s southernmost destinations with an unforgettable swimming holiday on the idyllic Greek island of Crete. From dramatic coastal cliffs to isolated coves, bays and beaches, the island is full of spectacular locations to explore and enjoy.

Our base for the week is the remote coastal village of Porto Loutro, which can only be reached by boat, hiking or, of course, swimming! Hotel Porto Loutro on the Hill*, which offers modern and comfortable rooms with sea views, is located just metres from the water’s edge and is the perfect place from which to enjoy the tranquillity of this island paradise. *Please note, Hotel Porto Loutro on the Hill is unable to accommodate children under 7.

With a range of stunning coastal swims, beautiful natural scenery and a long and rich history which dates back to the Minoan civilisation that occupied the island as far back as 3,650 BC, this trip is a wonderful opportunity to discover this truly fascinating part of the world.


Who is this trip for?

This trip is designed for swimmers who enjoy yoga, or who want to explore the benefits of yoga and how it naturally complements and enhances one's swimming. This trip also offers an idyllic coast for swimming and walking, while being based right on the water’s edge in one of Europe’s most remote villages. Swimmers should have a basic understanding of open water swimming and be capable of completing the short swims distances of an average 3 km daily. No prior experience of yoga is required.


Why yoga and swimming?

Yoga and swimming are a perfect combination. For swimmers, yoga offers both physical and mental benefits. Yoga increases awareness to breathing, develops strength and increases mobility, especially if you can work yoga into your daily routine. Through meditation, relaxation and stretching, yoga has incredible restorative qualities, relaxing the nervous system and muscular tension. It can help you centre and focus, and to find the perfect rhythm for your swims.


What's included?

  • Fully guided yoga and swimming holiday in Crete, Greece
  • Experienced yoga instructor
  • Yoga mat for the duration of the trip
  • Swim guides and full safety escort on all swims
  • Technique advice with video playback
  • Six nights accommodation
  • All breakfasts
  • Lunch on Day 5

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Lunches (excluding Day 5)
  • Evening meals
  • Overnight Stay Tax

Daily Itineraries

Please note that the below daily itineraries are an example of the swims and yoga sessions that may take place during the course of your trip, however, specific activities may vary according to local conditions. Your SwimTrek guides and local boat pilot will determine the most suitable swim locations each day and will communicate the plan with all guests as soon as possible.

Day 1

We meet on the lovely outside terrace of our hotel. We enjoy a welcome drink overlooking the village of Porto Loutro before our safety briefing and a description of our upcoming adventures. We then enjoy a short yoga practice preparing us for the week ahead, learning how to create effortless effort within our swimming and yoga. We then head down the hill for a short acclimatisation swim before heading out for dinner in one of the tavernas on the water’s edge.

Day 2

On rising, we will meet for our yoga practice. We will explore how our poses can support us in the water through greater balance, mobility, alignment and connection to breath. After breakfast, our boat takes us to the start of our morning swim. Beginning at Sweetwater Beach, we swim west beneath the E4 coastal walk bringing us back towards Porto Loutro. You will also get a chance to see how you swim as we will pause to record your swimming stroke. As well as improving your swimming we will then use this to create your own personalised yoga requirements for your body and your stroke. Following the recording, we will return to Porto Loutro for lunch.

This afternoon, it’s time for a circumnavigation of the islet that houses the harbour signal light that is located at the mouth of the bay. Swimming around this rocky outcrop, this short swim features stunning underwater scenery and a unique view of Porto Loutro. We finish the swim on the town beach with a technique session after which we will then have an opportunity to practice restorative yoga after the day’s activities. The practice will consist of slow deep stretches which we will hold and begin to understand the feeling of letting go in a pose.

Day 3

Today we visit the coastal village of Agia Roumeli at the foot of the famous Samaria Gorge. The village can only be reached by boat or hiking trail unless, like us, you plan to swim into the town! The morning will start with our yoga practice, developing a deeper understanding of the connection between swimming and yoga, and how we can sustain a steady rhythm - not only with our bodies but also our breathing. We then prepare for the swim which starts at Agios Pavlos beach, where the apostle St Paul is said to have landed during bad weather on his voyage to Greece in the 1st century AD. Swimming through the crystal clear water we follow the coastal edge of the Samaria National Park.

We have a longer lunch today to give you time to explore the town. There is a selection of lively Greek tavernas for lunch or you can stretch your legs hiking to the Turkish fortress. There are spectacular views of the town and sea from this ridge. Look inland to admire the Samaria Gorge and the exhausted hikers making a beeline for a cooling dip in the sea. We follow the sheer cliffs on the west of the town to Damata beach and its pine trees for our second swim of the day. During the swim you pass by the stunning Fournoti cliffs, home to the only known Hypericum aciferum plants in the world, that you can spot growing on the cliff side. On return to Porto Loutro, we take time to restore our bodies with a gentle yoga practice and breathing techniques.

Day 4

This morning’s yoga practice will begin with a sitting meditation as we prepare for our longest swim of the week. We will then focus on our alignment and the difference this can make when we are swimming in open water. After breakfast we head down to the water in front of the hotel to start our swim. Leaving the village behind we slip through the narrow channel between Crete and the Porto Loutro signal light before continuing around the peninsula towards Marmara beach. Watch the water change colour as you get closer to the white marble pebbles that make up the beach.

After our post-swim snacks, the afternoon is then free for you to enjoy how you wish. You can travel back to Porto Loutro on one of our escort boats, relax on Marmara beach or enjoy lunch in one of the cliff-top tavernas serving traditional Cretan cuisine, overlooking the beach. Before dinner we will have the opportunity to build on your restorative yoga and body awareness practice.

Day 5

Today our morning yoga practice will be a dynamic flow, building on what we have learnt so far. We then prepare for our stunning coastal swimming in the remote area between Chora Sfakia and Frangokastello. This is real opportunity to stretch out and put into practice what you have picked up during the trip so far. We start at the sea caves by Agios Pavlos and swim down a remarkable stretch of coastline, we stop for lunch in Koutelo at a beach taverna.

In the afternoon, we carry on westwards as we swim towards Kritamos, which is situated in the shadow of the historical Frangokastello Castle on the E4 path.

Day 6

This morning starts with yoga practice before a hearty breakfast. We then set out on a hike along the E4 route until we arrive at the sandy Sweetwater beach. The route grips the edge of the cliff, giving a bird’s eye view of yesterday’s swim. On arrival, we meet up with our support boats and swim east towards the town of Sfakia, where the coastline is dotted with a series of interconnected caves for you to explore. During our lunch break, there is free time for lunch in Sfakia, a town that is famous for its cheese pie. Treats from the bakery in the town are also highly recommended.

It’s more caves, inlets and exploring for the afternoon swim and we head east from the port at Chora Sfakia towards Filaki. This dramatic stretch of coastline is pocketed with cracks, caves and caverns. The evening’s restorative yoga session will be very welcome after the day’s exertions hiking and swimming.

Day 7

On our last day, we will bring everything we have learnt together for our final yoga practice - how yoga has the ability to train the mind and body and how we can take this into our everyday lives to enhance all that we do. We will also have the time to discuss any of the practices we have done. We then finish with a relaxing swim on the beach just outside our hotel before the trip finishes at 11:00.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Hotel Porto Loutro On The Hill, Porto Loutro, Crete

Start Time: 17:00 on Day 1

Finish Point: Porto Loutro, Crete

Finish Time: 11:00 on Day 7

Trip Information

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x2) Towel
Swimming Googles* (x2) Sweater / Fleece
Sunhat and Sunglasses Waterproof Jacket
Waterproof Sun Cream Walking Shoes / Sandals
Small Daypack Aqua Shoes / Sandals

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

Please note that SwimTrek will supply yoga mats, swim hats and provide water and electrolyte drinks in shared water bottles on your safety boat. If you prefer to use your own yoga mat or drink bottle, please feel free to bring one along. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you.

Yoga Practice

Our 1.5 hour morning practice is designed to help you prepare for the day, energising and invigorating your body for exhilarating swims and walks. This practice may include a mix of standing poses (asanas), back or forward bends. All poses are completely optional and props may be used for support. The practice will develop stability and alignment for the specific muscle groups we will use when swimming. After our active day, we’ll unwind our tired bodies and relax with a restorative evening yoga class. This is a gentle session which will help the mind and body let go and allow you to enter a state of relaxation.

Swimming Distances

Swim Distance
Sweetwater Beach – Porto Loutro 1½km
Agios Pavlos - Agia Roumeli 2½km
Porto Loutro – Marmara 3km
Koutelo - Kritamos 1km
Chora Sfakia - Filaki 1km
Porto Loutro circumnavigation 1½km
Damata 1km
Agios Pavlos - Koutelo 3km
Sweetwater Beach – Chora Sfakia 3km

Swimming Conditions

Swimming in the sea is a fantastic experience, however you should be aware that certain marine life such as sea lice, jellyfish, sea urchins and coral could be present during the swims. In all cases we will work on reducing your contact with these creatures, however if you suffer from anaphylaxis, please consult the office prior to booking.

Walking Distances

Walk Distance
Porto Loutro – Sweetwater Beach 3km
Agia Romeli Fort 2km

Most walks take place on recognised paths and tracks of the E4, however there may be cases where we walk along trails or other unsealed surfaces and care should be taken in these areas. Please note, if you prefer not to do the planned walks, you will have the opportunity to travel by boat instead.

Temperatures

Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
October 23-25˚C / 73-77˚F 20-22˚C / 68-72˚F
  • Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays require a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Group Size and Boat Support

This trip has a maximum group size of 15. The group will be split into a maximum of three groups, based on speed, with each group being accompanied by their own safety vessel/escort.  Boat support on this trip includes one main safety vessel and two inflatable boats to be piloted by your SwimTrek guides and a local boat pilot. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Getting There

The trip is based in Porto Loutro which can only be reached by ferry, water taxi or hiking. The easiest way to reach the hotel is to fly into Chania Airport and then take a public bus or local taxi to Sfakia Port, followed by a ferry or water taxi to Porto Loutro. It is also possible to fly through Athens and catch a ferry to Sfakia Port, however please note that this option results in a significantly longer journey time compared to travelling via Chania.

While we have outlined various travel options below, they are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. We suggest that you use www.skyscanner.net to search for alternative flight options for this trip. Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your flights and other travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

Please do also note that from April 7th 2019, the Hellenic Police will be implementing systematic passport control checks for all European citizens travelling to/from destinations outside the Schengen area (including the UK). Waiting times at passport control may be affected so please ensure you arrive to the airport in good time.

Option 1: Travelling via Chania

Flights to Chania

To search for available flights into Chania, please visit Skyscanner.

Transfer From Chania Airport to Sfakia Port

If you would like to arrange a private transfer from Chania airport directly to Sfakia port this can be arranged through Eleni at info@taxisfakia.com. The cost of this service depends on the number of passengers (please see the table below), and is payable locally on departure. The driver will be waiting in the arrivals hall where you collect your luggage, holding a sign with SwimTrek clearly displayed.

Number of Passengers Total Price
1–4 Passengers €85
5–6 Passengers €140

Public Transport From Chania Airport to Sfakia Port

You can also take a bus from Chania Airport to Chania town which takes 30 minutes and costs approximately €3. From here you will need to change buses for your onward travel to Chora Sfakion (the duration and cost is approximately 2 hours and around €9). You can find more up to date information on KTEL or calling the travel office on: +30 2821 091288.

From Chora Sfakia Port to Porto Loutro Hotel

From Chora Sfakia port, you will need to travel by ferry to the Porto Loutro. The ferry takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the village and, once you arrive, the hotel is directly in front of you. Tickets and the timetables for the ferries can be found at the following website: Anendyk.

Notos Mare also offer a 24/7 taxi boat service,depending on availability, with prices starting from €35 (one way). To enquire about availability and rates, please contact them on info@notosmare.com or +30 693 809 4767.

Option 2: Travelling via Athens

Flights to Athens

To search for available flights into Athens, please visit Skyscanner.

Travel from Athens International to Chania

From Athens airport, you will need to make your way to Piraeus port either by taxi or the subway. The easiest way to reach the port is by local taxi, with the journey taking approximately 45 minutes and costing between €45 and €65 depending when you travel.

Alternatively, you can travel via the subway. The station is a 200m walk from the airport and you will need to take the M3 line from Proastiakos Stathmos Aerodromiou to Monastiraki Metro Station (this takes 45 minutes), then the M1 line from Monastiraki Metro Station to Pireaus. Once here, make your way to the 826 line to AG. Dionysios. From here, the port is approximately a 15-minute walk from the station. For ticket information, please use the following website: Oasa.

Once at the port, Anek Lines run an overnight ferry to Chania that arrives at 06:00 in the morning. Tickets costs €40 for a return ticket. For guests who choose this option, we recommend that you arrive in Athens on the Saturday in time for the evening ferry departure. All ferry tickets should be pre-booked online. Tickets and ferry timetables are available at: Anek Superfast.

Transfer From Chania Airport to Sfakia Port

If you would like to arrange a private transfer from Chania airport directly to Chora Sfakia this can be arranged through Eleni at info@taxisfakia.com. The cost of this service depends on the number of passengers (please see the table below), and is payable locally on departure. The driver will be waiting in the arrivals hall where you collect your luggage, holding a sign with SwimTrek clearly displayed.

Number of Passengers Total Price (one way)
1–4 Passengers €85
5–6 Passengers €140

From Sfakia Port to Porto Loutro Hotel

From Sfakia port, you will need to travel by ferry to the Porto Loutro. The ferry takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the village and, once you arrive, the hotel is directly in front of you. Tickets and the timetables for the ferries can be found at the following website: Anendyk. Notos Mare also offer a 24/7 taxi boat service,depending on availability, with prices starting from €35 (one way). To enquire about availability and rates, please contact them on info@notosmare.com or +30 693 809 4767.

Practical Information

Accommodation

Our accommodation for the week is located on the hill overlooking our small village home of Porto Loutro. Hotel Porto Loutro on the Hill offers modern and comfortable rooms with sea views. All rooms are well-decorated and equipped with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms and are sold on a twin share basis. There are a limited number of single supplement rooms which can be reserved during the booking process, subject to availability. The hotel also features a bar-restaurant, sauna and sun terrace.

If you would like to book additional nights’ accommodation at the start or end of your trip, please contact the hotel directly via email: onthehill@hotelportoloutro.com.

Meals

All breakfasts are included in your trip price as well as one lunch, however the other lunches and dinners are at your own expense. This gives you a fantastic opportunity to explore and experience the local cafes and restaurants of your choice over the course of your trip. The average cost of a two course dinner in a local restaurant is €20-€25. For those with strict dietary requirements please speak to our customer team so that we can ensure your preferences are communicated to the hotel and our guides.

Extra Expenses

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as lunches, dinners, drinks, entertainment, souvenirs, etc. The local currency is the Euro (€). Please note that there are no ATMs in Porto Loutro. You will need to withdraw cash in Chania or Chora Sfakia before you arrive as many bars and restaurants in Porto Loutro only accept payments in cash.

Please note, the Greek Ministry of Tourism has introduced an Overnight Stay Tax. This is payable upon arrival at the accommodation at a rate of €0.50 per room, per night.

Passports and Visas

Greece is part of the European Union. Non-residents of Greece require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Citizens of all E.U. member states, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not require a visa to enter Greece. Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and we advise that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Health Information and Recommended Vaccinations

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to Greece, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit www.travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip.

Travel Plugs & Electricity

For a useful source of information on the different electrical outlets, electrical plugs, and electric sockets, please visit worldstandards.eu.

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