Worth a Trip: Vai
The beach at Vaï, 24km northeast of Sitia, is famous for its large grove of Phoenix theophrasti (Cretan date) palms. With calm, clear waters, it is one of Crete's most popular strands and its rows of umbrellas and sunbeds (€9) often fill by 10am in July and August. Jet skis kick into gear shortly thereafter.
If you want a nice beach without the crowd (or the palms), take the 1km scramble south over the rocky headland. The trail starts just past the gazebo lookout reached via stone steps leading up from the reasonably priced taverna on the south end of Vaï beach. Another trail leads north to Itanos beach in about 30 minutes, which is also often practically deserted and overlooked by Dorian ruins.