Makrigialos (official spelling: Makry-Gialos) is a small, unspoiled beach resort on the south-east coast of Crete, some 45 miles (70km) from the tourist hotspots of Elounda and Agios Nikolaos, and a world removed from the frenetic pace of Malia.
It has a permanent population of around 1000 inhabitants who originate mostly from the surrounding villages, but it wasn't all that long ago that the town was just a scattering of store houses and fishermen's cottages. Even today the local economy is based as much, if not more, on agriculture as it is on tourism, and when the summer season ends, local business owners look to the olive harvest, which generates some of the finest olive oil in the world.
The village is one of the quieter, less developed destinations in Crete, with one of the best beaches in this part of the island. There are two, unobtrusive hotel complexes situated in coves at the top end of town, and the majority of accommodation comprises mostly beach-front, family-run, self-catering studios and apartments, and a number of villas, houses, and cottages available for holiday rentals.
There is a good choice of bars, restaurants, tavernas, with many establishments fronting onto the beach. There is also a small fishing harbour - a pleasant place to stroll around, with its own patch of sandy beach and collection of waterfront bars, tavernas and restaurants standing side by side.
The area has been inhabited for centuries and is home to Minoan, Venetian, and Roman ruins, the former dating as far back as 1400 B.C. More 'recent' evidence of habitation can be found at the Kapsa Monastery, perched on the hill side four miles east of town, and believed to have been founded in the 15th century. Contemporary culture is represented by timeless traditional Cretan villages, such as Pefki and Agios Stefanos, which dot the gorge-cut mountain sides.