Kokkini Hani, like all the other villages on Crete's north coast hit by the tourist boom, once got its livelihood from fishing the Cretan Sea in small boats. A 15-minute drive east of the Heraklion airport, the drive there is scenic, and for most of its 14 kilometers offers great views of the sea. The village rolls itself out in a splendid panoramic view after about the 9th kilometer.
"Hani" is the Turkish word for "inn," and the place name comes from an inn situated there around the turn of the 20th century which serviced rural travelers going to and coming from Heraklion. "Kokkini" is "red" in Greek, but whether this was the Turkish version of the Red Roof Inn is highly debatable.
Because it has a really nice beach, Kokkini Hani has seen a lot of development beginning in the 1970's and right up to the current year. It offers excellent restaurants and tavernas as well. It's proximity to the capital makes it easy for a taste of a somewhat more cosmopolitan life should the desire arise. While some partying late into the night goes on, Kokkini Hani is pretty staid compared to the all-night revelry to be found in nearby Hersonissos.
As you travel east from Heraklion, you'll come to the wide, long first beach of the town. It's 400 meters long and 50 meters wide, and gets pretty packed during the high season, especially by locals coming over from Heraklion. After the beach is a large hotel/resort, and just after that, (and just before the harbor) is a much smaller, quieter, nicer, less-crowded beach that is also better sheltered from the wind.
As far as things to see close by, there is the archeological site of Niros, the ruins of a Minoan villa dating from 1600 BC. It is thought to have been the home of a high priest. There is the monastery of St. John the Theologian in the nearby village of Anopolis, about a kilometer inland from Kokkini Hani. And just a little further, about 3 km inland, is the Water City water park, with the usual slides, activities and pools.
Kokkini Hani is a great destination for a relatively quiet vacation, which can be transformed into a more lively vacation by travelling just a few kilometers.