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Μπάλος (Balos)

Balos is the place you will most likely find photographed on a postcard. This is because of its picturesque look and also because getting to this beach really costs you a lot of effort. However, we strongly recommend you to come and see it as it will be an unforgettable experience.

Balos is a beach which is connected through its shallow parts with the volcanic island Gramvousa on which you can clearly see how high up the sea used to be during its activity. You should certainly assign a whole day to see this place because the way to get there is really quite difficult and you won’t want to get back to the car after just one dip in the sea.

Parking on Balos is a little bit of a problem, they do have a parking lot assigned but it is highly unorganized (as it is free) so the number of spaces depends on the skill of the drivers. That is why we recommend you to get up earlier and get there between 10-11 when the parking is still quite easy.

Don’t forget to put on some trainers as the trip from the parking to the beach is about 1,5km long and you have to get through a hill and some stairs. If you are not the active type and you choose to get to the beach on a ferry, you will miss the beautiful view of Balos. Even children don’t find this trip too demanding.

There is one other alternative and that is to get to the beach on a donkey. This will cost you 5€ but in the afternoon, the donkeys are so lazy and tired of the sun that they won’t get you back for less than 8€.

After your arrival to the beach you can either turn right and go to the sunbeds or turn left and find a shadow under some rocks. You can also wade a lagoon and settle on the island side of the beach, where you can also choose between sunbeds and natural beds.

It is best to dip yourself in the lagoon as the water there is the warmest. Most of it is shallow water but you can also find some deeper spots. The sea is a better option if you want to swim but you cannot go far as there are many ferries crossing Balos. Sometimes you may also encounter quite big waves.

The sand on Balos is quite rough, sometimes it is more like gravel. On the island side of Gramvousa is the sand more delicate, but still quite rough. If you want to try some snorkeling, what we found the most interesing are the spots around Gramvousa, other places are usually just sandy. You need to be careful because once a day at around 13:00 a big ferry goes this way and it will probably not look out for you.

You can use the showers with fresh water probably supplied from a barrel in the hill, which makes the water is incredibly warm. You can use two wooden cabins next to the beach as a toilet, or you can go to the tavern on the left side of the beach but it is quite far away. We couldn’t find any changing cabins here.

35.582519 N, 23.590068 E

The road to Balos is quite adventurous. In a car hire they will tell you not to take the car to Balos. This is because on the dusty road leading to Balos, the insurance doesn’t apply and if something happens on the way, you will have a problem. If you are afraid of this, you can hire an off-road car which allegedly has an insurance even on the dusty roads. This will cost you some extra money though. The road is not that awful as the operators will tell you. Just don’t mention you went to Balos and they will never know. It is true you need to watch the undercarriage, but even with a small car you shouldn’t have any problems getting there. We did it with a Fiat Panda and the most common car you will hire on Crete is Renault Clio and neither of them should have any problems.

From Kissamos you will go to Kaliviani, here you should really use the GPS, because you will get lost in the small village streets. At the end of Kaliviani is the entrance to the protected areas of Balos, where you will pay a fee (1€ for every person in your car) and after another 10km try to avoid the stones and pits on the road.

It is forbidden to camp on Balos, the security watch the beach at night so try to avoid it. If you can’t find a different alternative try hide as much as possible and in the case try to persuade the guards but they usually won’t let you stay. Off season there is a chance that noone will find you. But if they find, you will need to go back to the parking lot in the dark and we do not recommend this.