The ancient Minoan site of Itanos is about 3km north of Vaï. It may appear fairly forlorn today, but this was once an important site. Inhabited from about 1500 BC, Itanos was clearly prosperous by the 7th century BC since it was an important trading post for exports to the Near and Middle East. It was at odds with local rivals such as Praisos and later with Ierapetra (then known as Ieraptyna). Poke around and you will find remains of two early Christian basilicas and a Hellenistic wall.
The basilica ruin, on high ground towards the sea, is littered with toppled columns. Look for one stone base marked with circular motifs. You can swim from coves nearby, or follow the road from Vaï beach and at the first crossroads head right (north) for about 2.5km.