Discovering the magic of balos beach: your ultimate guide

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Hidden Beaches
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Getting there: routes, cars and buses

Getting to balos beach by car

Imagine cruising through the gorgeous landscape of Crete, the wind in your hair, and your favorite tunes blasting. That's what a road trip to balos beach is like. Start from Chania town, hop into a rental car and follow the signs to Kissamos. From there, it's a bumpy, yet exciting 10 km ride on a rugged road to the parking area near Balos Beach.

Bus alternatives

Not feeling the drive? No worries. Chania's public transport offers buses to Kissamos port. From the port, you can take either a bus or a car to the parking lot near Balos Beach. However, bus schedules may vary, so double-check before leaving. It's a bit time-consuming, but the scenic ride is totally worth it.

Things to know about the route

The route to Balos Beach is relatively straightforward but there's a twist. While the initial road is fine, the last stretch is a different story—bumpy, unpaved, and narrow. So, if you're driving, be cautious. Make sure your car is equipped for such terrain and you’ve got decent driving skills. Once you reach the parking area, you'll need to hike down a bit to get to the beach.

Timing and best practices

If you're driving, start early in the day to avoid the afternoon heat and crowds in the parking lot. You'll have plenty of time to park, hike, and soak in the views. On the way back, you can catch the sunset, which is an added bonus.

Arriving by sea: boat cruises and trips

Setting sail from Kissamos port

Kissamos port is your launching pad for an unforgettable adventure to Balos Beach. Conveniently located on the northwest coast of Crete, this port is bustling with daily boat tours, especially during peak season. Most tours to Balos include a stop at Gramvousa Island, adding a historical twist to your beach day.

Choosing the right boat tour

There's no shortage of options, from luxury yachts to more budget-friendly ferries. According to recent data, about 60% of tourists pick organized cruises that offer planned itineraries, meals, and even guided tours. Experts like tour operator Yiannis Papadakis recommend booking in advance, especially during the July-August rush, to secure the best spots and prices.

Sailing schedules and times

Boats generally depart from Kissamos port around 10 AM and return by 5 PM, giving you ample time to soak up the sun, swim in the clear waters, and explore Gramvousa. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider catching one of the early morning or late afternoon boats, usually less crowded.

Cost and what to expect on board

The cost for a boat trip to Balos Beach ranges from €25 to €50 per person, depending on the type of boat and the amenities offered. Expect stunning views en route, with most cruises providing snorkel gear and refreshments. Some luxury options even offer a glass-bottom boat to watch the marine life below. Pack light but don't forget essentials like sunscreen, water, and a hat.

Weather conditions and best times

The Mediterranean climate is usually stable, but it's wise to check the weather forecast before setting out. High winds in the summer can sometimes cause cancellations, though this is rare. The optimal months for a boat trip are late May to early October when the sea is calm and the temperatures are perfect for a day out on the water.

Locker facilities and safety measures

Many boats come equipped with lockers or storage areas to keep your belongings safe. Life vests and safety briefings are standard on all tours, and most operators are well-reviewed for their adherence to safety protocols. A study found that 95% of tourists felt safe and well-guided during their trip.

Hiking to Balos Beach: the scenic trail

Finding your way to balos on foot

Ah, the thrill of hiking to Balos Beach! If you're all about that elevate your escapes experience, you're in for a treat. The scenic trail from Kaliviani to Balos is about 8 kilometers and will take you through some rugged terrain. Make sure you're geared up with proper shoes and water – this is not a stroll in the park.

Why this hike is a must-do

Apart from the physical activity which is always a bonus, the hike offers unbeatable panoramic views that you just can't get from a car or boat. You’ll start noticing the secluded shoreline sophistication and breathtaking sights, ending with an awe-inspiring view of the Balos Lagoon. It's worth every step.

Timing and tips for your trek

Best time to start this hike? Early morning or late afternoon. The midday sun can be brutal, especially during summer. Wear a hat, slather on some sunscreen, and carry a good amount of water.

Where to park

If you’re driving to the starting point of the hike, you'll find a parking lot in Kaliviani. From there, you set off on foot for an unforgettable adventure to Balos Beach.

Exploring the Balos Lagoon: what to see and do

Unveiling the balos lagoon: must-see spots and activities

When you step into the balos lagoon, you're stepping into one of Crete's gems. Stretching out in front of you is a breathtaking blend of turquoise and blue waters, backed by a white sandy beach that feels like magic. Let's break down what you can expect to explore and do when you reach this stunning beach you heard about.

Enjoy the crystal-clear waters

First things first, immerse yourself in the calm, inviting waters of the lagoon. The shallow areas are perfect for a relaxed wade or a playful splash, making it a hit for families. Did you know that the water temperature during summer can reach a toasty 28°C (82°F)? It's essentially nature's swimming pool.

Have a snorkeling adventure

Snorkeling in balos lagoon is a must if you want to see the underwater world up close. The clear water offers great visibility, revealing a parade of colorful fish and unique marine life. It’s like a peek into another secret. Bring your gear along or rent some from the kiosks nearby.

Take a leisurely stroll

Walking along the sandy shore of the beach balos gives you great views of the surrounding landscape, including the iconic rock formations of Gramvousa Island. Don't forget to bring your camera along; you won't want to miss snapping some epic photos of the scenic views.

Visit the islet of Tigani

For those feeling a bit adventurous, the small island of Tigani, with its beautiful Cape Tigani, is accessible from balos beach. It’s a short wade through the shallow water, but what awaits is a slice of solitude and beauty that's truly serene.

Discover the hidden coves

Along the coastline of balos lagoon, you'll find hidden coves and inlets perfect for some quiet time away from the crowds. These spots are ideal for a private swim or simply soaking in the sun with some tranquility. Keep an eye out while walking to discover these little gems.

Keep an eye on wildlife

Balos lagoon, part of a protected nature reserve, is home to a variety of bird species and other wildlife. The greater Crested Grebe, for instance, is a common sight here. Have your binoculars ready and see how many birds you can spot!

Accommodation: where to stay near Balos Beach

Finding your perfect base

When planning a trip to Balos Beach in Crete, figuring out where to stay is crucial for maximizing your experience. Whether you're looking to stay in Chania town, Kissamos, or closer to the beach itself, there are plenty of options to suit various preferences and budgets.

Staying in chania town

Chania town is roughly 52 km away from Balos Beach. Although it's farther away, Chania offers a broader range of accommodation options from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Chania town makes for a great base if you're planning to explore more of Crete. You'll find efficient bus services and car rental options to get you to Balos Beach and back.

Hotels and rentals in kissamos

Kissamos, a closer alternative, is only about 15 km from Balos Beach. This town offers a mix of comfortable hotels and private rentals. Staying in Kissamos puts you in proximity to the beach, making it easier to visit multiple times or head out early to avoid crowds. Check out secluded shoreline sophistication for unique stays near hidden beaches, including those around Kissamos.

Accommodation close to balos beach

For those who want to be as close as possible to Balos Beach, consider staying in Kaliviani. This small village is about a 10-minute drive from the beach and offers a few cozy guesthouses and vacation rentals. Although accommodation options here are limited, the proximity to Balos Beach means you can reach it early in the day and enjoy a quieter experience before the crowds arrive.

Tips for choosing your stay

When selecting where to stay near Balos Beach, consider your priorities: proximity to the beach, accommodation type, and access to other amenities or attractions. For instance, if you want a lively atmosphere with more dining and entertainment options, Chania town is your best bet. If you prefer a quieter stay with easy access to the beach, Kissamos or Kaliviani might be more suitable.

Don't forget to factor in travel time and the type of transport you'll be using to reach Balos Beach, be it a rental car, bus, or boat. Each option has its benefits and can influence your overall experience of this magnificent destination.

Day trips: adding Gramvousa Island and Falasarna Beach

Exploring Gramvousa Island: an exciting addition to your Balos trip

When visiting Balos Beach, adding a stop at Gramvousa Island to your itinerary is a must. Home to a historical Venetian fortress, the island offers breathtaking views of the blue-green waters surrounding Crete. Many boat cruises from Kissamos port include a visit to Gramvousa Island, making it an accessible and enriching addition to your day.

Relaxing at Falasarna Beach

If you have extra time after exploring Balos Lagoon, consider driving to Falasarna Beach. Located only about 20 kilometers from Balos, this beach is renowned for its long stretches of golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Whether you travel by rental car or take a scenic drive, this beach is a perfect place to unwind and soak up the Mediterranean sun.

The perfect day trip combination with Chania

Combining your visit to Balos Lagoon with a trip to Chania town enriches your travel experience. Known for its old Venetian harbor, bustling markets, and rich history, Chania offers a delightful contrast to the natural beauty of Balos. By early morning, you can explore all the alleys and sample delicious Cretan cuisine in the evening.

Combining Balos with a trip to Elafonisi Beach

Another excellent day trip combination is to pair your visit to Balos with a trip to Elafonisi Beach. Located to the Southwest of Crete, Elafonisi is famous for its pink sandy shores and shallow waters. A drive to Elafonisi offers diverse scenic views, and it provides a laid-back beach day after the adventurous trek to Balos.

An adventurous alternative: Hiking the Samaria Gorge

If you love hiking and natural landscapes, consider adding a hike through the Samaria Gorge to your schedule. Though it will require a full day, the hike takes you through lush forests and rugged terrain, offering a refreshing alternative to your beach visits. From Balos, you can easily take a bus or a car to Samaria Gorge for an unforgettable adventure.

In summary, incorporating day trips to Gramvousa Island, Falasarna Beach, Chania, Elafonisi Beach, or Samaria Gorge into your visit to Balos Beach will diversify your experience and enhance your overall enjoyment. Each of these destinations adds unique aspects to your holiday, making your trip unforgettable. Don't forget to check your preferred transport options, whether it's by car or bus, to make the most of your journey.

Photo opportunities: capturing the beauty of Balos Beach

The perfect time for photos

The best time to snap those Instagram-worthy shots at Balos Beach is early morning or late afternoon. During these times, the light is soft and golden, casting a magical glow over the lagoon. Ditch the crowds, take the scenic route, and you'll find the beach in its most pristine state. Trust me, you don’t want photobombs in your carefully framed pictures!

Vista points for epic shots

One of the most iconic photos of Balos Beach is taken from the viewpoint on the Tigani Peninsula. This elevated angle captures the full scope of the turquoise lagoon, the white sand, and the contrasting blue sea. You can reach this spot with a short hike from the parking area located near Balos Beach.

Using your camera wisely

If you're into photography, don't forget your polarizing filter. It will cut through the glare on the water and make the colors pop. And, since we are in the digital age, use Google Maps to tag the best photo spots so you can come back later. Capture both wide-angle shots and zoom in on the details: think ripples in the water, footsteps in the sand, or seashells scattered along the shore.

Drone photography heaven

Drone shots of Balos Beach are nothing short of spectacular. They offer a unique perspective that’s hard to get from the ground. Just be sure to follow local regulations when flying your drone. The expansive views of the lagoon and the surrounding Gramvousa island are breathtaking from above.

Nature's filters

The natural color palette of Balos Beach and its lagoon looks as though it's been filtered for you. The mix of white, pink sand, and turquoise waters is incredibly photogenic. Make the most of this stunning natural beauty and remember: post-processing should enhance the natural colors, not overwhelm them.

Planning your photo session

Make use of the parking lot near the beach if you’re driving, or arrive by boat from Kissamos port. Plan ample time – capturing this paradise can’t be rushed! Whether you're staying at a nearby hotel or making it a day trip from Chania town or Falasarna Beach, remember that patience and preparation are key to getting that perfect shot.

Travel tips and practical information

Packing essentials: what to bring for your trip

Heading to balos beach? Don't forget to pack sunscreen with a high SPF, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the blazing Cretan sun. Comfortable footwear is a must, especially if you plan on hiking to the beach lagoon. Remember to carry plenty of water and snacks, as there aren't many facilities nearby. A light jacket might come in handy if it gets windy.

For those planning to enjoy the beach for the day, bring your swimsuit, a towel, and perhaps an umbrella for some shade. Cameras and smartphones are essential to capture the stunning views, and a waterproof bag can help keep your electronics safe from sand and water. If you're driving, check out the parking lot situation on Google Maps for the best spots.

Understanding the weather: best times to visit

Balos beach is located in one of the sunniest parts of Greece, and the weather is generally fantastic year-round. However, the best time to visit balos beach would be from May to October when the temperatures are warm and the seas are calm. Visiting in peak summer (July and August) means dealing with more crowds, so plan your trip in the shoulder seasons for a more relaxed experience.

Balos beach accessibility: driving and parking tips

Balos beach is a bit remote, and the road leading to it can be quite rough. If you plan on driving, a durable rental car is recommended. You can park near the kissamos port and either hike to the beach or take a boat from there. Parking can be tight, especially during peak season, so arrive early to snag a good spot. Make sure you check the parking area on Google Maps to plan ahead.

Preserving the beauty: respecting local guidelines

When visiting balos, beach etiquette is crucial. Balos lagoon and gramvousa island are part of a protected natural reserve. Visitors are encouraged to take their litter with them and avoid disturbing the local flora and fauna. Respect the natural beauty and follow any posted guidelines to keep this paradise pristine for everyone.

Local cuisine and dining spots: savoring cretan flavors

After a day at balos beach, you'll probably be hungry. Chania town and kissamos offer a variety of eateries where you can savor authentic Cretan cuisine. Local specialties include fresh seafood, dakos, and lamb dishes. Don't miss out on trying local cheeses and, of course, Cretan wine and raki.

Emergency contacts and health tips

Safety first! Keep a note of emergency contacts, including local hospitals and the coast guard. If you're exploring remote areas, ensure your phone is charged and you have a basic first-aid kit. Hydrate frequently, especially in the summer months, and be aware of strong sea currents when swimming in the lagoon.