It is hard to say if Balos is just a beach or a sightseeing. It is a lagoon with turquoise color of the sea, fine white sand and very shallow water. Balos, along with Elafonisi
, is the most photographed beach of Crete
and considered one of the top beaches of Greece and the Mediterranean.
The lagoon is accessible in two ways: by cruise boat (from Kissamos
or any of the north seaside resorts close to Chania town), or by car via dirt road. Balos lies in the northwesternmost part of Crete, on the rocky uninhabited peninsula of Gramvousa which starts from Kissamos. The dirt road continues for about 7 km and at some point you will see parking place where you can leave the car. After that you need to take a trail going down to the beach, with length of approximately 1 km and superb panoramic view from above. Part of the fascination of Balos is exactly in this view, revealing not only the lagoon but the surrounding islets. Going down the trail is easy but the return may be quite tiresome, especially in hot summer days.
A narrow strip of rocks and the sand spits of the lagoon connect the coast with the tiny peninsula of Tigani which has a very flat top ("tigani" means "frying pan" in Greek) and one can easily walk to it as the water is ankle deep. In the summer there is a small cantina which sells drinks and rents a limited number of parasols but people usually bring their own sunshades. The bad thing about Balos (and Elafonisi, too) is that it can get really, really crowded and not as pleasant as on the photos. You`d better go either out of season, or early in the morning in order to avoid the masses coming by boats and the numerous parasols which occupy any single space on the white sand.
Behind Tigani lies a small islet called Imeri Gramvousa or just Gramvousa, with the ruins of a Venetian fortress on the top. Usually boat cruises to Balos include a visit to Gramvousa as well.