The fishing village of Matala was just that until the 1960s. However, since then, like many other things, it hasn’t been quite the same! It was then that Matala became a popular destination for hippy travellers attracting the likes of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Joni Mitchell (who even wrote a song about it) in its heyday.
Many of these hippies camped out in the complex of caves that are carved into the sandstone cliffs at the northern end of the beach. Unfortunately these 20th century visitors left there mark on the caves at Mátala which were originally carved out in the 2nd century as tombs. There is also a mural on a wall across the beach declaring: “Today is Life, Tomorrow Never Comes” , apparently painted on the seawall to welcome Beatle George Harrison.
These days most of the hippies have retired but there remain a few throwbacks camped up at the top of the cliff. Every year though things take a trip back in time with the free Matala Beach Festival.
The beach itself is a lovely little patch of coarse sand flanked by yellow sandstone cliffs and backed by tamarisk trees. At the southern end of the beach are a clutch of tavernas which serve up fish landed on the quay in front.
As you’d expect from any beach on a Greek island, the water is a lovely crystal clear blue and perfect for snorkelling in. If you are feeling a little more adventurous and you don’t mind a bit of naturism then make your way around the coast to the neighbouring Red Beach.
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