If you are going to Greece to the island of Crete, be sure to visit the confluence of the three seas – the bay of Balos, without it, acquaintance with the beauties of Crete would be incomplete. Balos Bay attracts tourists with the cleanest beaches of a unique lagoon, pristine nature and postcard views worthy of the cover of National Geographic. We have collected for you all the information regarding visiting this paradise.
Where is the bay
The unique lagoon in Greece is located on the island of Crete, Balos Bay is located on the west coast of the narrow, like a blade, Gramvousa Peninsula, stretching north of the western tip of Crete. The nearest settlements to the bay are the village of Kaliviani and the town of Kisamos, located on the shores of the bay of the same name on the northwest coast of the island. The distance to the nearest major city of Chania is about 50 km.
From the west, Balos Bay is bounded by Cape Tigani. It is a rocky mountain range, the top of which has a height of about 120 m. At the entrance to the bay is located the uninhabited rocky island of Imeri Gramvousa. These natural barriers protect the bay from winds and storm waves, the sea here is most often calm.
The shore and bottom of the bay are covered with white sand interspersed with small particles of shells, giving the beach a pinkish color. The water of the bay is striking in its richness of shades, replacing each other. Here you can count up to 17 different tones of blue and green, so the Balos lagoon in the photo looks very picturesque. This is one of the most beautiful places not only in Crete, but throughout Greece.
Such an unusual color of water is due to the fact that near the bay there is a border of three seas: the Aegean, Libyan and Ionian. Water of different temperature and chemical composition, mixing with each other, reflect the blue of the sky in different ways, giving rise to a unique play of shades of the water surface.
But the main feature that makes the beach unique is the Balos lagoon, located in the coastal part of the bay. Cape Tigani in Crete, separating the bay, is connected to the peninsula by two sand spits. Between these braids a shallow lagoon was formed – a unique natural pool, protected from sea elements. In one of the braids there is a duct that connects the lagoon to the sea during high tides.
Due to its shallow depth, the clear water of the lagoon warms up well, and the natural isolation from sea waves ensures a constant calm in its water area. Combined with the clean white sand of the beach, this makes the lagoon an ideal place for swimming for children. Yes, and adults relaxing on the beach by this natural pool will bring a lot of pleasure, if desired, you can find deep places for swimming.
Rest in the lagoon
To preserve the natural uniqueness and cleanliness of Balos Bay, it was given the status of a reserve. The entire surrounding area, including beaches, is protected by environmental organizations, so the beach infrastructure here is very modest.
Balos Beach in Crete offers only rental of sunbeds and umbrellas, which are not enough for everyone during the influx of vacationers. There is no natural shadow on the beach, so it is advisable to take an umbrella with you. On the coast there is the only small cafe near the parking lot, to which from the beach go uphill for at least 2 km.
Balos beach does not offer any entertainment, but they are not needed. People come here to enjoy swimming in the warm azure water of the lagoon, to capture in memory and in the photo the pristine beauty of exotic nature. This is the best rest for relaxation and pacification.
Fans of excursions in the bay also have something to do. You can walk along the cape of Tigani and see the chapel of St. Nicholas. Climbing to the top observation deck, you can admire the picturesque panorama of the bay from a bird’s eye view and take great photos.
On the island of Imery-Gramvousa, tourists are given the opportunity to see the ancient Venetian fortress, as well as the ruins of buildings erected in the 18-19 centuries by Cretan pirates and rebels against the Turkish invaders.
How to get there by sea
The starting point from which sea transport runs to Balos Bay is the port of Kisamos, located 3.5 km from the town of the same name. Even closer to the port is the village of Trahilos (0.5 km), so if you get to the port yourself, buy a ticket to Trahilos. From Chania to Trahilos can be reached by bus, travel time is about 1 hour, ticket price is about € 6-7.
When planning to travel by sea yourself, keep in mind that ships leave for Balos only during the season and only in the morning, starting at 10 o’clock. Ticket price – from € 27, the trip will take about 1 hour. As a rule, a sea voyage program includes a visit to the island of Imery-Gramvousa.
It is most convenient to book a boat trip to the Balos lagoon in Crete (Greece) with a tour operator. The trip includes:
- delivery by bus from the hotel to the port of Kisamos;
- boat trip to Balos;
- excursion program;
- beach vacation;
- return by sea to the port of Kisamos;
- A bus ride to your hotel.
Usually the duration of such an excursion is a whole day. The cost will depend on the place of your stay, the prices of the tour operator, the excursion program. The minimum price is from € 50. In the cities of Cyprus, too far from Kisamos (Heraklion and beyond), such excursions are not offered.
Wealthy people have the opportunity to rent a boat and go to Balos Bay (Greece) without reference to the schedule of sea voyages. It will cost a boat rental from € 150. For solitude lovers this is a great opportunity to visit the bay before the arrival of tourists who sail by boat. The disadvantages of traveling by sea include the lack of spectacular views of the bay, which open when approaching it from the mountain. But, having arrived at the beach, you can climb to the observation deck of Cape Tigani and catch up.
How to get there by land
The way to the Balos lagoon in Crete by land, as well as by sea, starts from the town of Kisamos or from the neighboring village of Trahilos. If you are traveling out of season or in the afternoon, then a land trip is the only way to get to the lagoon, except for the expensive yacht charter. The road to the bay lies through the small village of Kaliviani.
The final stop in this case will be parking over Balos, from which you will have to go down to the beach for another 2 km. Near the parking lot is the only cafe in the reserve. You can get to the parking lot by renting a car, or by ordering a taxi, however, not every driver agrees to go there. In addition, in the second case, most likely, you will have to return back on foot, and this is about 12 km of descent from the mountain. There is another option – to book an individual car tour through a travel agency, which will cost a lot.
The road to Balos is not long – about 12 km, but it is unpaved and leads uphill, so the trip takes at least half an hour. The maximum caution is required of the driver, since in case of damage to the rented car on the primer, the case is not recognized as insurance.
Climbing up from the beach back to the parking lot will have to be uphill, locals in the season often offer pick-up and donkey pick-up services, starting at € 2.
Prices on the page are for March 2019.
- If your goal is photographs of beautiful views, then you need to go up to the observation deck before 10 a.m. At a later time, the position of the sun will not allow you to get a high quality photo. Boats begin to run from 10.00, so you will have to go to Balos Bay (Crete) for a photo by car or by a rented yacht.
- Going on vacation, do not forget sunscreen, an umbrella, drinks, hats, food and anything you might need. You are unlikely to buy anything on the beach of the lagoon. Some of the food and drinks can only be bought in the cafe in the parking lot or in the buffet of the boat when traveling by sea.
- When planning a car trip to Balos (Crete), it is recommended to rent an SUV, as there is a risk of damage to the bottom of a conventional car and puncture tires with sharp stones.
- On a dirt road, do not develop speeds above 15-20 km / h, do not stay close to the rocks, there are many recently cracked stones with sharp edges. The primer is wide enough to allow two cars to disperse freely.
- Parking over the bay is small, closer to the middle of the day there may be no places on it, therefore it is recommended to arrive early in the morning so as not to leave a car on the road.
Balos Bay is one of the amazing places on our planet, if you are lucky enough to relax in western Crete, do not miss the opportunity to visit this exotic lagoon.