0Balos Lagoon

Balos Lagoon is one of the most famed beaches on Crete with it’s west coast loc­a­tion offer­ing great sun­sets. It is loc­ated off the pen­in­sula at the north west of the Island a little over an hour from Chania near the Gram­vousa islands which often fea­ture on boat trips to Balos.

There are 2 ways to reach Balos. One option is driv­ing which includes a long drive on unpaved road and in peak sea­son park­ing a long way from the beach with a 30 min or so walk to reach it. If you prefer the water to the land you can take a boat trip from Kis­sam­os which give you 3 hours at the lagoon and 2 hours at Gram­vousa island with costs around €25 per per­son. The 2 main oper­at­ors are Balos Travel and Cretan Daily Cruises

Balos has been some­what a vic­tim of its own suc­cess with so many vis­it­ors in peak sea­son that it is much harder to recom­mend than it used to be. If you drive you can set off early enough to beat the boats, or altern­at­ively you can stay at the end after many people have gone, but you will then get back to wherever you are stay­ing quite late. Oth­er­wise, if you go dur­ing the main part of the day then expect there to be hordes of people in both coach trips and on sev­er­al large fer­ries. When I last drove in August I stayed until after sun­set to take a photo to show the num­ber of people still present after dark!

To get to and from the beach you will need to talk a dirt track that takes around 20 minutes each way, plus any time walk­ing to the start of the path from wherever you man­age to park which it likely to add anoth­er 10–15 minutes. The road up the pen­in­sula is unsur­faced and so makes for slow driv­ing. As a res­ult the drive from Kis­sam­os takes around 40 minutes with the last 30 minutes of this being the 5 miles of dirt-road. Driv­ing from Chania takes an extra 30 minutes, so a little over an hour in total.

The beach itself is lovely, large, and sandy, although the lagoon is very shal­low and has quite murky water that isn’t espe­cially appeal­ing to swim in. For­tu­nately there is plenty of sea avail­able to swim in which is very pleas­ant. Although there are lots of breach umbrel­las and sun­beds there is still plenty of empty sand for those who prefer to take their own kit.

If you take the boat trip you will miss out on the sun­set but you are likely to get a vis­it to Imeri Gram­vousa, which is home to a Vene­tian fort­ress that has been used be Cretan inde­pend­ence fight­ers on a num­ber of occa­sions (inde­pend­ence from the Otto­mans, and the Ger­mans, not the Greeks I should say!). Imeri Gram­vousa also has a beach, that is quieter than Balos as only boat trip­pers can reach it.

There is a “beach bar” at Balos which provides basic snacks and drinks. There are also some basic toi­let facil­it­ies. The prices are not too bad for a cap­tive mar­ket with items like pringles, water, sand­wiches, tea and cof­fee ran­ging from €1 to €4 in 2019.

Balos Gallery

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