There are not many dangerous animals on
Crete. You can find more information about the few that do live on the island
The crime rate on Crete is much lower than in
other Southern European countries such as Spain and Italy. Theft is much less
prevalent than in Britain.
Locals frequently do not lock their cars and doors, harking back to more
innocent times for many British people. When theft does occur on Crete, it’s
very rare that it was committed by a Greek – more often than not, a British or
German traveller who has run out of money will be the culprit. Sadly, in the
last couple of years there have been more and more stories about professional
Eastern European gangs who have come to Crete to ‘work’, having found it ripe
with easy pickings. Nevertheless, it is still relatively safe here. Theft is
rare, but it still pays to be vigilant.
Always keep an eye on your valuables or put them in a safe. Insurance for
expensive items (e.g. cameras) is not a bad idea. Generally speaking, theft is
more likely to occur in larger towns (Iraklio and Chania). The worst place in
Greece for theft is Athens, particularly the port area of Piraeus.
One of the reasons for Crete’s low theft rates is the draconian punishments; a
thief caught for the first time can expect a few months in prison. Secondly, the
locals are very helpful should something be stolen; they are extremely proud of
their low crime rate and will do everything they can to keep it like that.
In the summer of 2008 the whole world heard
about the big fires that ravaged many parts of Crete, especially in the
Peloponnese. Crete did not escape these infernos, and suffers them yearly.
In my hometown, Plakias, there was a enormous fire two years ago in which
thousands of olive trees burnt down. The fire brigade was very efficient, with
thirty fire engines coming to help from all over Crete. In the end, the fire was
stopped a mere 20m from the first houses in Plakias – including the Youth
Hostel. Evacuation was enforced in parts of Plakias to minimise human
The fires do not last beyond the first rains in autumn (usually mid- to end of
September), and do not start again until June. The worst months are August and
September, when the combination of no rain for months, strong winds, a blazing
sun and the bone-dry ground create a tinderbox waiting to be ignited.
Mosquitoes are a seasonal problem in some
parts of Crete, particularly after the sun has gone down. Thankfully, Cretan
mosquitoes do not seem to transmit any diseases (e.g. Malaria, Dengue Fever),
but unfortunately that does not make their bites any the less itchy, nor the
humming of a hungry mosquito nearby less irritating.
Mosquitoes are more prevalent where fresh water is prevalent, to the point where
they can plague anyone nearby – I know an Australian who drunkenly fell asleep
by a river for a couple of hours. The next day, we counted more than 500 bites
on his body.
Happily, there are many ways you can protect yourself from mosquitoes.
• Mosquito nets: properly used, these cover the bed and keep mosquitoes out.
• Keep your skin covered: the more skin you cover, the less chance a mosquito
has to make direct contact with your skin.
• Apply cream/spray: these contain a chemical repellent to mosquitoes, keeping
them at bay. A popular brand is Autan.
• Plug-in devices: there are a few on the market. The most effective slowly
spray out a scentless mosquito repellent (harmless to humans). It’s better to
buy these in Greece – those manufactured in northern Europe do not work on
Cretan mosquitoes. In any case, they’re very cheap; a few euro a most, and
frequently they come with several containers of the chemical. One container is
good for 2-3 nights.
• Turn on the air-conditioning: mosquitoes dislike the environment air
conditioning creates, with the result that your room will be mosquito-free!
Devices which only emit a high-frequency (inaudible to humans) pitch which is
meant to drive mosquitoes away are sadly completely ineffective.
All in all, whilst Cretan mosquitoes are harmless, you should do well to
remember that a bite from one is not equivalent to a bite from a fly local to
where you live; your body will not be used to them, and as a result each bite
will result in a big red spot with a small swelling – with plenty of itching!
Fortunately, after a few weeks your body will acclimatise - most people living
on Crete do not have a problem with mosquito bites. Unfortunately, the mosquito
season runs parallel to the tourist season (May – October). The amount of
mosquitoes varies from year to year, depending on the weather in winter and
spring. A mild winter followed by a mild spring with little wind generally
heralds a mosquito-infested summer.