7 kilometres north-east of Siteia is the famous and astonishing
grove of palm trees at Vai. This beach of Cretan date palm is
the largest natural palm forest in Europe and has been declared
as a protected area.
The famous palm grove of Vai is approximately 92km east of Agios Nikolaos and covers an area of 250 square km. Its 5,000 palm trees stretch for two miles, culminating in the beautiful golden beach of Vai. It is an area unique to the island and Greece itself and is the largest palm-tree forest throughout the European continent.
Consequently Vai attracts a great many tourists in the summer. According to local legend, the existence of the palm forest is due to Phoenician merchants who snacked on dates whilst carrying out there business in the port. The stones of these dates were dropped and grew into the famous palm grove (vagia) from which the area got its name.
These perennial palm trees surrounding a superb golden beach with crystal clear waters makes it unique in Greece giving it a special charm that attracts many tourists in the summer. Close by is the ancient site of Itanos, inhabited from Minoan times to the 15th AD.