Are you looking to visit Balos Beach and lagoon on the gorgeous Greek island of Crete? I’m sharing everything you need to know before you go so you have a easy, breezy and comfortable beach adventure! Find out how to get here (including tour options!), what you should know about visiting, and top Balos Beach travel tips.
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Without a doubt, Balos Beach and lagoon is a freakin’ dream!
This past year, when Dan (the wanderful husband) and I went on our honeymoon to Greece, we spent one week on the beautiful island of Crete and had the amazing opportunity to visit Balos Beach, experiencing it in all its glory.
Featuring sparkling turquoise-blue waters, unbelievable views of the surrounding coastline, luscious sandy shores, shallow waters perfect for relaxing in, and countless beach chairs that make sun-bathing easy.
This makes it one of Crete’s most popular beaches. Even more impressive, Balos Beach is often listed as one of the best beaches in the world.
However, along with the exceptionally good comes a few not so great things that you should know before you visit.
In this tourist-friendly Balos Beach guide, I’m sharing with you…
✓ What I wish I knew before going
✓ How to get to Balos Beach by car (and alternatives if you don’t have a car!)
✓ What time of the day to go
✓ What you should take with you
✓ What to wear when visiting Balos Beach
✓ Where to stay near Balos Beach
✓ And a few other tips you need to know
This information should help you plan the best possible trip here! Keep reading to get all the deets on Crete’s beautiful Balos beach and lagoon.
Psst, don’t miss out on reading my 25 Greece travel tips, where you can find everything you should know before you go to this gorgeous country!
YOUR GUIDE TO VISITING BALOS BEACH ON THE ISLAND OF CRETE
Where is Balos Beach Located?
First things first: where the heck is Balos Beach located on the island of Crete?
With Crete being a rather large island (it takes like four to five hours to get across the entirety of it!), you might not even know where this gorgeous beach is.
Balos Beach is located on the upper lefthand corner of Crete, near the area of Kissamos. There are two peninsulas that jut north from the rest of the island. Balos Beach is perched at the very tippy top of the far left peninsula. I’ve included a handy Google map below that points to its exact location.
It’s also worth noting that Balos Beach is located near Imera Gramvousa, also known as Gramvousa Island. If you take the ferry to Balos Beach, you’ll find that it generally stops here on the way! There’s a nice little beach, as well as an old Venetian fortress (called Gramvoussa Fortress) that you can hike to.
How to Get to Balos Beach by Car
Personally, we rented a car through Kayak when visiting Crete and drove to Balos Beach from Chania. This ended up being around a 1 hour and 20 minute drive. We stopped in Kissamos along the way for lunch, as you’ll find out below that Balos Beach has nearly zero facilities.
No matter where you’re staying, you’re going to have to take the notoriously bump Balos Beach road. This is about a 3.5 mile (5.5 km) stretch of sandy, rocky road. Beware, this road is minimally maintained, has no barrier (and a scary ledge) and can be insanely packed during peak tourist season.
Also, on some stretches, it will feel as though the bottom of your car is being jostled off and that all of its parts are falling out.
My personal tip is to take it easy and go slow. You’ll get there eventually!
Note that you have to pay a sort of Balos Beach “toll” to get to the peninsula. This cost €1 per person and is paid at a small booth located at the beginning of the Balos Beach road.
Top Tip: Doublecheck Your Car Rental Agreement
If you are considering visiting Balos Beach and lagoon by rental car, I would highly recommend checking with your rental provider on whether or not this is allowed.
Many rental car companies in Chania or near Chania Airport do not allow renters to take their car rental to Balos Beach, as the road there is seriously bumpy, not to mention on the edge of a cliff.
We didn’t realize this until after arriving back to our hotel and re-reading the car rental agreement… oops. If we were caught (thankfully we weren’t!), this could have resulted in a €300 fine.
Additionally, your car will likely not be insured if you go on the road to Balos Beach, which is worth noting.
To get around this, you can rent a car that’s specifically for off-roading, such as a Jeep. Otherwise, you can do what we (unknowingly) did and just risk it! But this is up to you.
How to Get to Balos Beach by Boat or Ferry
If you don’t have a car and want to visit Balos Beach, you have a few options.
✓ Take the ferry from Kissamos Port to Balos Beach (€30 roundtrip for passengers who are 13+)
✓ Go on an off-roading tour to Balos Beach (like this one)
✓ Rent a charter boat to take you there on a private tour (ranges from €500-1,000 per group, depending on where you’re departing from)
✓ Join a boat group tour from your area (e.g. Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion)
If you are part of a larger group, I would definitely explore the option of renting a charter boat or going on a private tour. This not only makes visiting Balos Beach much easier but it can work out pretty cheap if split amongst several people.
You can also customize where you want to stop! For instance, if you see a beautiful, secluded beach off in the distance, you can ask your boat driver to take you there. How fun!
If you’re staying in Chania, such as the Old Town, you could also just walk around the port and find countless boating businesses offering day trips to Balos Beach!
The Unavoidable Hike to Balos Beach
If you drive to Balos Beach, you unfortunately have to then hike down to the actual beach. (Which sucks after that horrendous car ride, but hey, it’s all part of the adventure, right?)
The hike is around 1.7 miles (2.7 km) out and back, so a little less than one mile to the beach from the car park. You will probably even see some cute goats on your way there!
For this, I recommend wearing some good shoes… more on what you should wear to Balos Beach below!
When You Should Visit Balos Beach
During peak tourist season, Balos Beach can get super busy! Especially if you’re there when the ferries and all of their passengers are there. This means the beach will be packed with countless visitors.
(During the months of July and August, the ferry usually sells out — it has a capacity of around 1200 people!)
That said, you can work your schedule around the arrival and departure of the ferries, as this is how most Balos Beach visitors reach the area.
Personally, I would visit either early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Dan and I arrived at Balos Beach around 3 PM and it was perfect!
The ferry workers started rounding passengers up at around 4 to get them back on the boat and then it departed at 5 PM. This left the beach basically empty, aside from some that got to Balos Beach via car.
However, I would have actually really liked to experience the beach in the morning! I’m sure it was blissful with the morning sun, calm waters and desolate shores.
If you’re thinking of going in the morning, plan to arrive between 9 AM and 11 AM. The ferry from Kissamos gets there around 1 PM or 2 PM. When you arrive early, you can still have a pretty full day at Balos Beach–without the crowds!
What You Should Bring With You to Balos Beach
Because Balos Beach is quite remote, there are very minimal facilities and amenities there. This means no cafe, shop or proper toilets.
There are a couple W.C.s at the beach but their not anything to brag about… but in case you have to go, they are there! I think they may cost €1 to use but I’m not sure, as I didn’t use them.
During part of the year, you’ll also find a one or two small canteens selling bottles of water and some snack options at the beach. Additionally, there’s a small shop in the parking lot that sells food and drink options.
That’s about it, though! Not to mention, since there’s like one guy selling stuff, the prices are astronomically high… as they can easily get unprepared tourists to pay these ridiculous prices.
This is why I recommend bringing everything you need with you, including:
- Lots (and lots) of drinkable water
- Ample amounts of snacks
- Snorkeling gear
- Beach umbrella (if you’re prone to sunburns)
- Lounge chairs (if you can carry them)
What Should You Wear to Balos Beach?
If you’re taking the ferry to Balos Beach or a private boat tour, you can easily slip on a swimsuit, a sundress or shorts, some flip-flops and be just fine for the beach adventure.
However, if you’re like me and you plan to drive to Balos Beach, I would highly recommend wearing some proper shoes and comfortable clothing. While the hike is short, in the height of summer when the sun is beaming down, it can be exhausting.
Make yourself as comfortable as possible by wearing the right shoes and clothing. Personally, I wore my beloved Teva sandals and they were great for navigating the pebbly hiking trail, as well as the decline and incline to and from the beach.
Additionally, wear LOTS of sunscreen! The Greece sun is hot and spicy, and she can burn you quite easily if you have sensitive skin and are prone to sunburns.
Since Balos Beach is part of the sea, I would highly recommend getting a sea- and ocean-friendly sunscreen. You can find my personal sunscreen recommendations in this blog.
Where to Stay Near Balos Beach
If you’re looking to stay near Balos Beach, here are a couple great hotel and resort options I found that you may like:
- Kaliviani Traditional Hotel — exceptionally-rated Greek guesthouse located near the beginning of the Balos Beach road
- Crystal Bay Hotel — centrally-located, 3-star hotel in Kissamos
- Hotel Peli — family-run, highly-rated hotel with a lovely pool
- Villas Libra — gorgeous villas ideally located between Balos Beach and Falasarna Beach
- Aphrodite Beach — beautiful 2-star hotel near Kissamos with easy beach access
There are of course tons of other accommodation options near Balos Beach! Far too many to include here. If you want to explore more hotels, guesthouses, villas or apartments, click here to browse Booking.com (my favorite booking site).
Other FAQs About Visiting Balos Beach
Where is the “Pink” Balos Beach on Crete?
While Balos Beach does have a few pinkish spots, you’re likely thinking of Elafonissi Beach, which is on the southwestern side of Crete.
Elafonissi Beach is known for its pink sands, sandy shores and crystal-clear blue waters. It’s definitely worth a visit but can be quite the drive to get to!
Is Balos Beach Worth It?
Ah, the golden question! Personally, I think Balos Beach is a little over-hyped BUT I really loved it. It’s truly stunning and like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
If you drive to Balos Beach and hike to the beach, your eyes are basically assaulted with the most beautiful views ever. Not to mention, on a good day, the waters are calm and clear, giving you the perfect opportunity to soak in the shallows and relax in the sun.
So, in my opinion, 100% worth it.
Does Balos Beach Have Umbrella?
Yes! Balos Beach has sunbeds and umbrellas that protect you from the strong Greece UV rays. You can typically rent one from about €15-30 per bed, depending on the time of year and how busy the beach is.
Note that if it’s windy–and Balos Beach can get very windy–the umbrellas might not be possible to put up.
Should I Visit Balos Beach From Chania?
When determining where to stay on Crete, I would definitely recommend Chania. Chania Old Town is absolutely gorgeous and it’s a super easy drive from Chania to Balos Beach.
Plus, there are an array of other things to do around Chania that you shouldn’t miss, like a vineyard and olive oil tour (I loved this one!), getting lost among the tiny streets of Chania’s Old Town, eating at all the delicious tavernas and exploring the gorgeous mountain range south of Chania.
What are Other Popular Beaches Near Balos Beach?
All in all, Balos Beach (and the entirety of Crete) is worth visiting. I loved every second of exploring this gorgeous Greek island and look forward to visiting again in the future!
Do you have any other questions about traveling to Balos Beach on Crete? Ask in the comments below and tell me about your future Greece travel plans!
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