The Vai Palm Forest in Lassithi Crete: Vai is a large sandy beach located on the eastern side of Crete surrounded by a large palm tree forest. It is the only palm tree forest in Europe and consists of more than 5,000 trees. In combination with the golden beach, Vai forms an impressive landscape.
There are many legends concerning the creation of this palm forest. It is said that this forest dates from the medieval times and that the Arabs planted these trees when they conquered Crete. Others say that the trees were planted by Saracens pirates who used to hide in the nearby area. Another version says that this forest was built in the ancient times by Egyptian soldiers who had come to help Itanos, an ancient town on eastern Crete, in its conflict with Pressos and Ierapitna towns.
This uncommon forest became a popular attraction in the late 1970s when the last Hippies starting coming to Crete. By the early 1980s, Vai palm forest had become a horrible campground and a dump area. Fortunately, this beach was cleaned and has now been declared as a protected area, with rare flora and fauna.
Vai Palm Forest currently belongs to the Monastery Toplou and is visited by thousands of visitors every year. It is situated 25km far from Sitia town and 7km from Paleokastro village. The road that leads to the forest is quite well-constructed and well-signed.