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Habitats of Greater Malia

Covering a surface area of 8,300 and thus being the fifth biggest island in the Mediterranean, Crete comprises four major habitats that are dependent on altitude and temperature differences. These are the coastline and wetlands, the plains and lowlands up to 300m, the hills up to 1,000m and the mountains from 1,000m. The upland plateaus, the wetlands and the gorges are a special feature.

This variety in habitats, each with its own mini-climate, does not leave flora and fauna of each area unaffected. The plants in particular are forced to adapt themselves to local climatic circumstances to survive as they lack the ability to move. But also mammals and birds have their preferences and settle in areas where they can easily find food.

Greater Malia has the rare distinctive asset to possess all of these habitats, which makes it a perfect environmental microcosm.


There are only a few lakes in Crete. One of those, the small Lake Lyghará, is located in Mohos. Wetlands are restricted to a few smaller swamps and river deltas that are usually dry in summer. In the area of Potamos, next to the archaeological site of Malia, there is a wetland, a ‘livádhi’ that hosts migratory birds like waders, egrets and gulls. Both Lake Lyghara and the Potamos area are excellent spots for bird-watching.


Also characteristic in Crete’s relief, besides the mountains, are the gorges that slice the island vertically and north-south, the biggest and the most famous of which is the Samaria gorge. In the area of Malia there are some quite small, but nevertheless beautiful gorges.

The habitats of these rocky mountain gorges are considered to be the elite among the flora and house great biodiversity. They are a retreat for plants and animals alike that couldn’t survive elsewhere; hard to reach for most animals they are left undisturbed here, like the Cretan wild-goat or garden rock plants like anemones, dwarf bellflowers and dwarf tulips.