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Balos beach

Location

Balos beach in Kissamos lies in the northwestern tip of Crete, about 55km west of Chania town.
Balos is found on the impressive Gramvoussa peninsula, between the capes of Gramvoussa and Tigani.
The Gramvoussa peninsula is covered with thyme, oregano and wild flowers.
On its northwest side is the astonishing lagoon of Balos.

Characteristics

Access By: Car & foot / boat Depth: Shallow
Beach Type: White sand Temperature: Warm
Organised: Yes Family-friendly: Yes
Natural Shade: No Crowded: Yes

Facilities

There are no accommodation options, just canteens offering food, refreshments, umbrellas and sunbeds at an approximate cost 7 euro.

Notes

In front of the beach there is the picturesque Gramvoussa islet with its Venetian castle which you will be able to visit if you choose to reach Balos by boat.
On the background is the Geroskinos mountain with an altitude of about 762 metres.
North of Balos there are ruins of the small ancient Roman city of Agnion, known for its temple of Apollo.

Balos beach has pinkish – white sand, due to the countless broken and intact shells.
The same white sand covers the sea bottom, granting the sea an emerald color.
The waters inside the lagoon are shallow, crystal clear and calm since the Gramvousa islet protects the bay from the winds.
Outside the lagoon the waters are deeper and cooler.

Due to its fascinating flora, Balos is a protected area under the Natura 2000 programme.
It is also a shelter for the protected monk seal and the Caretta caretta loggerhead turtle.

As there is no natural shade it is essential to wear appropriate clothes and plenty of sunscreen to protect yourself from the hot summer sun of Crete.

How to get to Balos

Balos isn’t as easily accessible as most beaches in Crete.
You can reach it by boat or by car and a short hike.

There are daily boats leaving in the morning from the harbour of Kastelli, in Kissamos.
You can take the public bus from Chania to Kastelli and then walk for about 3km to the harbour or take a cheap taxi ride from Kastelli.
The boats leave from about 11 am and return at about 16:30 pm.
The trip to Balos takes 1 hour.
It stops at the Venetian fortress of Gramboussa for about 1.5 hours and then anchors to Balos beach for another 2 hours.

For the more adventurous, another way to reach Balos is by driving a car or motorbike on a 10km rough dirt road which starts at the village of Kaliviani.
If you start your journey early in the morning, you can get there before the boats arrive and the beach gets way too crowded.
The road is not good and therefore you cannot drive faster than 10-20 km/ hour, unless you have a rented a 4×4.
You will have to pay a reasonable fee to leave your car at the parking space.
You will then follow the descending path which takes 20 – 40 minutes, depending on your pace.
The walk is quite steep towards the end.
It is definitely more hard to reach the beach on foot but you will be well rewarded by the spectacular view of Balos lagoon from above!

The climbing when you return is much more difficult so it is advisable not to do it during midday or without enough water supply.
For about 8 euro you can also rent a donkey to go up the trail back to the car park.

Finally, you could also reach Balos on foot from the village of Kaliviani, west of Kastelli.
There is a bus arriving to Kaliviani from Kastelli and several buses to Kastelli from Chania.
Should you choose this way, be prepared for approximately 3 hours walking from Kaliviani.

photo by Nick Koutsikos

Note:

During July and August Balos beach receives more than 1.000 visitors every day.

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Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean Sea.
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