It has been a very chilly winter here on the Island of Crete – the coldest it’s been in over 10 years with record-breaking snowfall! I have to say, it really is wonderful to see all the snow; but on these very cold days I can’t help but dream about summer… toes in the warm sand, swimming in the vast turquoise sea and soaking up the golden rays of the Mediterranean sun.
And when dreaming of summer in the Greek Islands, Balos Beach and Gramvousa Island come to mind.
Balos beach is nestled on the north-western coast of Crete, while Gramvousa Island is located right off the shores of Balos.
Balos and Gramvousa are very close to Kissamos and relatively close to Chania. So if you’re in the general area, you must see this place – even if you’re only spending a weekend on the western shores of Crete!
Here are 5 important tips for your Balos and Gramvousa day trip!
#1. Take the boat, not the road. You can get to Balos one of 2 ways: by boat or by car/foot.
If you drive to Balos, you have to pave your way over big rocks all the way to the top of a mountain range (Balos is located on the other side of the most western peninsula of Crete), then you have to hike down on foot in the hot sun to the beach.
Keep in mind that if you drive, you cannot visit Gramvousa Island (also known as Shipwreck Island – see tip #4). You also have to hike up the mountain in the very hot, dry sun all the way back to your car. There’s no other way… and it’s exhausting!
If you take the boat you can order beers, enjoy the coast line, visit Gramvousa & Balos both and cruise back in relaxation in the afternoon. Trust me, it’s the best option and totally worth every penny spent on your boat ticket!
You can buy your boat tickets one of three ways: in Kissamos at a street stand (see photo above), at the dock directly or you can get your tickets online here.
#2. Bring plenty of water and snacks. There is absolutely nowhere to buy food or water once you step foot on the sand. The sun is hot, the weather is dry, and you will get very dehydrated. So bring plenty of water and snacks for your day trip to this magical place.
Check with the charter boat company if they offer food/drinks on board – they did during our day trip, which made it easy for us to grab and go before we hit the beaches. There is also a small cafe at the dock, where you can grab a coffee, water and something light to eat before boarding.
#3. Hike up to the Gramvousa Fortress. That’s right! There is a Venetian Castle on the top of Gramvousa Island! And you can walk inside of it!
You hike up on ancient stepping-stones to the fortress. Once at the main gate, you can spot multiple marble statue ruins scattered all along the pathway.
You’ll also see the most breathtaking panoramic view of several Greek Islands and of Crete’s western coastline.
It’s absolutely incredible! Coordinate your time well though, because the hike can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes just to get to the top, and you’re not on this island for very long until you set sail to Balos.
#4. Look out for the shipwreck! There is a ship permanently docked on the shores of Gramvousa Island…and the wreck happened in the 1960’s.
The wreck is really cool to see, due to the orange-colored corrosion of the metal against the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean. Some locals call Gramvousa “Shipwreck Island”.
#5. Lay in the lagoon. Balos beach is known for its lagoon.
The lagoon is huge. You can lay in the warm shallow water and sunbathe on pink and white sands while little fish swim around you. If you prefer deeper waters, just walk on either side of the lagoon and you’ll be greeted by the Mediterranean Sea!
You’ll see gorgeous lime green, coral pink and bright white colors all along Balos.
The pink sand at Balos reminds me of the breathtaking Elafonisi Beach; another amazing Crete Island destination you must see in the summer!
Have you ever been here? Are you thinking of going? Let me know in the comments below!