The world has an ongoing love affair with dreamlike beaches. And here on Crete, there’s no shortage of sun, sea, and sand treasures to be found. Still, Balos Lagoon is by far the most recognizable and photographed in Crete, if not Greece overall. Here’s a little more info on this natural wonder.
Situated in the far west of Crete island, Balos is about 56km northwest of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos, Balos Lagoon is formed between the Cape Gramvousa and the small Cape Tigani and below the range of Platiskinos. By far Crete’s most photographed beach, Balos is also where England’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited on their private yacht many years ago.
World-renowned for its spectacular turquoise waters, and its wild natural beauty, the lagoon reviewed tens of thousands of visitors each year. Most arrive by ferry since the only road to the lagoon is not for the faint of heart. But if you want to experience this natural wonder in relative solitude, you’ll have to navigate the narrow dirt track to the cliff overlooking the beach. Toward noon the ferries arrive caring the throngs seeking fun and sun.
The white sands of this lagoon are amazing, and the vivid blue and turquoise waters are very shallow and warm. In some places, the sand is pink owing to millions of crushed shells intermixed. Rare species of flora and fauna are all around too, which is what the area is protected under the Natura 2000 program. The area is a shelter for the protected monk seal and the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), and other species.
To reach Balos you can take the morning ferry from Kissamos and maybe catch some dolphins at play along the way. If you’d rather, you can take your car or motorbike up the aforementioned dirt road that begins in Kaliviani and ends at the wide parking area above the lagoon. The panoramic view of Balos and the island of the Gramvousa is breathtaking. from here. There’s a canteen at this point too. The walk down the cliffside is about 1km, and be sure to bring something besides flip-flops.
Walking back up the cliff is not as joyous as the descent. By far the most thrilling way to get to Balos is to trek the three hours from Kaliviani, crossing the rough and dry landscape of Gramvousa and the range of Platyskinos. But be sure to go prepared, the heat in summer and the craggy walk are wearing. This choice does introduce you to more of the wonders of Balos though.
Finally, there are no amenities at Balos, so bring your own umbrella, drinking water, and food. Carry sunscreen too, since you’ll be all day on the reflective sands under the Cretan sun. It’s a good idea to have a good breakfast before leaving your accommodations, but a picnic here is also a part of the dream too. The ferries don’t have any true amenities, so plan ahead.