Prepare to be mesmerised at Crete's Balos beach
It’s hard to know what’s more impressive: The magical blend of blues you’re presented with as you approach Balos from above, or the experience of wading into the still waters of the lagoon, surrounded by all that white sand and shimmering flecks of pink from crushed shells. One way or another, Balos is a beach that has rightly become a landmark of Europe as much as it has of Crete.
Situated at the northwestern tip of the Crete, by the Gramvousa peninsula, Balos should be inked in on everyone’s wishlist when they visit the island.
The exotic greens and blues of the water, the sweeping sandbanks and backdrop of Cape Tigani, and all the wild beauty of a Natura 2000-protected area… It’s an Instagrammer’s dream – nowhere more so than at the viewpoint as you walk down to the beach.
The water’s shallow but if you want to snorkel head to the boundaries of the lagoon, where it gets deeper. And don’t forget to explore once you’re here. The unique topography supports rare species of flora and fauna, including birds such as Eleonora falcons, shags and cormorants nesting in the nearby caves. Just please tread carefully so as not to disrupt the animals. The wider area also offers shelter to the Mediterranean monk seal and the caretta caretta sea turtle.
You can stroll across the peninsula to the shrub-covered Cape Tigani, narrowly connected to the mainland, and climb to the chapel of Agios Pantes. The sunset view from here is fantastic.
- Drive to Kaliviani, the nearest village, which is 44km from Chania.
- Continue on a bumpy dirt road for 9km, ending at a parking lot. There’s a small fee (proceeds go to the protection and maintenance of the area).
- A 1km footpath takes you to down to the beach. The walk can be tiring in hot weather but the views are magical. The viewpoint is about 20mins from the parking.
- You’ll be rewarded by Balos at any time of year, but the best months for swimming are April-October.
- Balos does get busy in the high season, so morning and late afternoon visits are best to make the experience as personal as possible.
For the best experience, visit in the quieter months of April-June and September-October.
- There are a limited number of sunbeds and umbrellas available in the summer, but bring shade to make sure you’re able to seek out the quieter parts of the bay.
- There are canteens on and near the beach, selling drinks and snacks.
- Make sure you’re equipped for a day in the sun:
Plan your trip
Beaches are delicate ecosystems so please help keep them in the best possible condition and leave only your footprints.