Crete has a variety of beautiful beaches, and swimming there was a highlight of our trip to Greece. The Chania region, which covers the western side of the island, included most of my favourites. Since we we stayed on the western side for a few days, one place I had planned to visit was Balos beach.
Balos is located near the town of Kissamos, but is not easily accessible as the beach is on the far tip of the island and only accessible by boat or by a gravel road. There are daily boat tours to Balos from Kissamos or Falassarna, but unless you choose a more expensive option you have to keep to a set schedule and you are on the boat with dozens of other people. For those reasons we decided to drive.
At times the road was one way only, and there were no guardrails along the edge. Although the road was full of rocks and potholes, it wasn’t the most hair-raising drive we did on the island–that honour went to the coastal road between Falasarna and Elafonisi beach we did the day before. The road went for six kilometres, and with careful driving we made it with our rental car none the worse for wear.
The parking lot was very basic and had a number of potholes, rocks and drop-offs to be aware of. After an somewhat irritable old gentleman tried to direct us into a huge rock sticking up from the parking spot, we chose a different one and got out. We then made the 20 minute hike from the parking lot down to the beach.
At first it felt like walking among the mountains elsewhere in Crete, but eventually we started going down and could see the beach in the distance.
This first part of the beach we found was not nearly as nice as the other side and fewer people were there. It had rained the day before and the water here was more stagnant as it was trapped within the sand and could not be replenished by the sea. We passed by this section on our way to the thin stretch of sand in the middle of Balos. We eventually got to the centre portion and paid the attendant for the use of the loungers.
We came for the views and the water, and neither disappointed. Because the location is so out of the way, there weren’t too many people there. It can get busy in summer, but we arrived in the latter part of October so the water was still nice but the crowds were absent.
We had a great time at Balos. One thing to keep in mind is there the services there are basic. Beach chairs can be rented and they had a very simple food shack to get snacks. Most people brought their own food with them as we did.
After spending the day at Balos we drove back to our hotel at Falassarna. The lagoon at Balos was one of the highlights of Crete, an island that quickly became one of our favourites during our trip.