Taking a rough road to get to one of Crete’s most beautiful beaches

Balos Lagoon from the heights. You can see the tiny line of beach umbrellas on the sandy beach near the centre-left separating the two sides. This is where we went

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.

Crete with Balos Lagoon circled

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.

Looking back at Kissamos in the distance during the drive to Balos

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.

It took much longer than 34 minutes with the speeds we were doing
Have to watch out for the goats

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.

Coming into view on the left of the photo
Down the trail to the beach
The first enclosed part of the lagoon

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.

He just walked over and jumped up on my beach chair
Eventually the attendant came and got him–we figured it was his cat

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.

The clarity of the water was amazing
Enjoying a swim
The water was so calm
Kim enjoyed the shallow water
You can see a white boat in the distance. It arrived a couple hours after we did and let off about 75 people. We watched them slowly make their way towards us like a line of ants, hoping that some of the beach chairs were still available

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.

Time to head back
One more chance to enjoy the view
More goats in the parking lot
He won’t let me get in my car

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.

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