35 gorgeous photos of Balos Beach & Gramvousa Island!

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.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Gramvousa Island

And when dreaming of summer in the Greek Islands, Balos Beach and Gramvousa Island come to mind.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Balos Beach with Gramvousa Island in the background

Balos beach is nestled on the north-western coast of Crete, while Gramvousa Island is located right off the shores of Balos.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
The western side of Crete’s western peninsula

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!

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Simply breathtaking: Gramvousa Island with the Venetian Fortress up top

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.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Boat day-trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island

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.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
On the way to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island

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!

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Clear turquoise waters at Balos Beach

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!

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Balos and Gramvousa tickets in Kissamos

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.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Dan and I on our way to Balos and Gramvousa

#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.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Gramvousa Island

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.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
On our way to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Sailing around the western peninsula of Crete
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Anchoring at Gramvousa Island

 #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!

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Gramvousa Venetian Fortress up top of the Island

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.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Front gates of the Gramvousa Venetian Fortress/Castle
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Ancient Venetian marble ruins
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Ancient Venetian marble statue
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Ancient Venetian ruins on top of Gramvousa Island

You’ll also see the most breathtaking panoramic view of several Greek Islands and of Crete’s western coastline.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
At the Venetian Fortress on top of Gramvousa Island, Greek Islands in the background
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
At the Venetian Fortress on top of Gramvousa Island, Crete Island in the background

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.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Ancient church inside the Venetian Fortress, still standing
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
On top of Gramvousa Island inside the Venetian Fortress
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Inside Gramvousa Venetian Fortress
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Rooms inside the Venetian Fortress
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Inside the gated walls of the Venetian Fortress, looking out

#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.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Shipwreck at Gramvousa Island

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”.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Gramvousa Island
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Sailing around Gramvousa Island

Balos Beach YouTube play

#5. Lay in the lagoon. Balos beach is known for its lagoon.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
There I am! In the middle of Balos 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!

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Old rusted dock at Balos Beach/Balos Lagoon
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
I couldn’t get enough photos of this cool old dock in Balos

You’ll see gorgeous lime green, coral pink and bright white colors all along Balos.

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Balos Beach’s pink sands
trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
The many colors of Balos Beach

The pink sand at Balos reminds me of the breathtaking Elafonisi Beach; another amazing Crete Island destination you must see in the summer!

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island
Pink sand at Balos Beach

Have you ever been here? Are you thinking of going? Let me know in the comments below! 

trip to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island

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