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Crete's Vai Peninsula

the beach at vaiThis peninsula in northeastern most Crete is known for the palm trees that line its long, much visited beach.

These trees, though native to Crete, (and also the only native palm tree in Europe) are not endemic to it, growing also in southwestern Turkey.

This tree, though related to the date palm, does not bear edible fruit, and is shorter, and with many stems.

A shrub violet also grows on the peninsula, with pretty yellow, black-dotted flowers, mostly found in north Africa but with some sites in obth western and northeastern Crete.

E's FalconOther flowers include yellow forget-me-nots, and spotted cistus, and Cretan tulips.

Beyond the end of the main road, at Itanos, is a large area of garrigue and grassland (dry by late spring), with bellflowers, sea heath, and a blue legume, an endemic woodruff with white flowers.

By now this area, formerly little known and very pristine, may have been taken over by tourist developments and a golf course. Offshore islands also have some endemic plants and have breeding Cory's shearwaters, and one of the best populations of Eleonora's falcons in the world.