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Home / Malia's Countryside
Malia's Countryside
Natural Features

Natural Features of Crete in general

Approaching Crete from the sky you will notice some things that are quite typical of the island. Firstly – though not uncommon to islands – there are its mountains: Like Athena bursting fully armed from Zeus’ head, Crete’s mountains emerge from the sea, shooting up to heights of over 2,200m – the highest peak being Mt. Psiloritis at 2,456m – and covering two thirds of the island’s surface.


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.

Botanical Paradise

If you’re curious about Malia’s rich plant life, you won’t be disappointed; walking along the beach or in the hills and mountains, you’ll see that it hosts many different, but also sometimes rare plants in full bloom, mainly in spring.


The wildlife today in the area of Malia and Crete in general does not have much in common with the bizarre animal kingdom it hosted in pre-historic times. Odd creatures like elephants the size of a cow and hippos as high as a pig were not uncommon. But with the settling of humans, the landscape and therefore the wildlife changed. Some animals, like the elephant and the hippo, disappeared long before humans arrived. Some, like the spiny mouse, adapted themselves to the new circumstances, while others, like goats and pigs, were brought by man. As far as is known, there were never predatory beasts in Crete, as there are none today.


Crete holds a highly diverse winged population with around 400 species. The island is one of the major fly-past routes for migratory birds that make a pit-stop from March to May on their way to northern Europe and in autumn back to Africa. This makes it a Mecca for birdwatchers, who – depending on the time of year – can enjoy watching both resident and migratory birds. The Potamos wetland and Lake Lyghara in Mohos are such excellent spots for bird-watching.

Marine Life

The beautiful Bay of Malia is an attractive snorkelling and diving area with clear and warm subtropical waters. The reason for this clarity is the relatively low degree of phytoplankton, the first link in the seafood chain. Despite this however, there are sufficient nutrients available to sustain a good level of marine life. Less exposed than other parts of the Cretan coast, the Bay of Malia has a rich diversity of marine creatures that are attracted by the rocky shores and islets on one hand and the sandy sea bottom on the other, which make it a rich biotope.