Balos Lagoon is located 56km northwest of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos. This makes it the perfect day trip from either town. Some describe the journey to Balos as “an act of pilgrimage.” The journey is certainly not easy but the reward outweighs the effort.
Balos has become “Instagram famous” in recent years. My aunt, who travelled around Crete over ten years ago had never heard of it. Today it is popular with travel bloggers, cruisers and thanks to its picture-perfect landscape that looks even more beautiful in real life. Balos is home to turquoise water, rugged cliffs and unspoiled white sand. Sound perfect? It is.
Getting to Balos- bus, boat or car?
It is possible to get to Balos by bus and boat. There are some instances where I favour public transport. Of course, it’s more environmentally friendly. It can also provide an insight into local life. For Balos, this just wasn’t the best option for me.
Most ferry trips offer limited time at the lagoon. Even in low season with a cool breeze blowing we wanted as much time there as possible. Plus you will miss out on the hike down (although this could also be seen as a positive!) We rented a car in Chania and drove from there. The journey takes about an hour on a tarmac road to Kissamos. From Kissamos you will reach a dirt track that runs for about 8-10km along the cliff edge. Take it slowly and watch out for goats!
In high season the road gets very crowded. I’ve read that cars park right down the narrow cliff road. However, in low season, the drive was perfect. I think we met just 2 other cars on the 8km stretch. Just make sure to check your rental insurance will cover you off road. Our company actually advised us to go there but many won’t cover you for damage to the undercarriage of the car.
In preparation for our drive we consulted the usual travel websites to make sure our tiny VW Up rental car could manage the journey. The consensus seemed to be, if you can drive on Irish roads you can drive anywhere! The dirt road was in poor condition, but no more than any Irish boithrín. We took our time, stopped for photos (and goats) and enjoyed the spectacular coastal views.
Hiking down to the beach
Before we got there, I had read about a “gut busting” hike to the beach. With an old ankle injury rearing its head shortly before the trip, I was nervous. But to be honest…it really wasn’t that bad! It is a slow 20-30 minute descent down to Balos from the car park, along an uneven dirt track. While you don’t have to be particularly fit for the hike, it is useful to wear decent runners to prevent any ankle injuries.
As we reached the halfway point we saw the signs for donkey taxis but no donkeys! We took a short rest at the view point. The donkey taxis don’t run in low season so we soldiered on by foot. What the guide books don’t tell you is that the views of the lagoon distract from any feelings of tiredness on the remainder of the hike. It really is as beautiful as the photos!
Swimming at Balos
The beach was almost empty when we arrived (hello low season perks!) so we had our pick of swimming spots. Dipping a toe in the ice cold lagoon was enough to send me back to our picnic blanket. Let’s just say, if you want to feel alive, Balos Lagoon in October is the place to swim! If you prefer to keep the full function of your toes, the water on the main beach side is warmer.
Once your swim is complete, all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy the views!
Have you taken a great road trip recently? Let me know in the comments, pin this post or talk to me on Facebook!