Lake Kournas is the only natural freshwater lake in Crete. In antiquity was known as Koressia, due to a city thought to be in the area with a temple dedicated to Athena. It is located in the Apokoronas municipality of Chania, between the slopes of the White Mountains and the valley of Georgioupolis, just 2.5 km away from the sea and 4 km from Georgioupolis.
It is a relatively small lake, of a circular shape with a perimeter of 3.5 km. It covers an area of 579 acres and its maximum depth is 22,5 meters. It has maximum length 1087 meters, maximum width 880 meters and lies at an altitude of 20 meters above sea level. The dark color of the lake is due to the algae at its bottom. Lake Kournas constitutes a very important ecosystem as it is one of the few areas in Crete where there is abundant fresh water throughout the year. It has been designated a protected area under Natura 2000.
Lake Kournas is a large pit formed by the holdback of the groundwater. It is fed by two springs, the Amati or Mati (meaning eye in Greek) which is over the lake’s surface in the summer months and a second water spring, being underneath the lake's surface throughout the year. The water of the lake flows into the Cretan Sea, through the Delfina river.
It is home to ducks, eels, water snakes and a rare species of bicoloured terrapin with a patterned shell, the Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemysterrapin), while recently have been reports of large goldfish. The goldfish is attributed to human intervention, changing the ecological balance of the ecosystem.
Lake Kournas is a popular tourist destination for locals and tourists as it is the ideal place for relaxation, afternoon walks or a day escape in nature. You can ride a bike, walk around the lake, swim in its turquoise waters or rent a pedal boat to explore the beaty of the lake. Although almost all touristic leaflets say that it is possible to walk around the lake, that is not true. At least not at the end of the rain season (winter). You can only stroll around during the summer, when the water level is low.
On one side of the lake there are cafes and traditional tavernas offering remarkable views of the lake, however they have degraded the area. It is worth tasting traditional Cretan dishes such as apaki (smoked pork) or grilled goat meat which is quite famous in the area. During your stay you can visit the picturesque village of Kournas, located nearby. Between the lake and the village there is also a beautiful cave with great views of the lake. Lake Kournas is easily reached from Georgioupoli.