At some point during your holidays in Crete, you’re probably going to want to know how to get to Balos beach and lagoon. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece; some might say it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You’ll see the pictures of it outside every travel agency between there and the capital of Crete, Heraklion. We’ve written all about Balos Beach in our post elsewhere on the site, and indeed nearby Gramvousa Beach. This article is all about the Kissamos to Balos ferry, the way most visitors reach Balos Beach.
The Balos beach ferry is one of the most popular boat trips in Crete. Balos travel can be time-consuming, particularly as you have to reach the departure point for the boat to Balos beach, Kissamos port, which is in the far west of Crete island. You may well decide to book a Balos tour, or make tracks there yourself. Whatever you choose, you will end up in the same boat – literally.
You’ve seen the pictures of stunning Balos Bay. Now for the somewhat more prosaic business of getting there.
- 1 HOW TO GET TO BALOS BEACH – A SUMMARY
- 2 WHAT IS THE BALOS BEACH BOAT LIKE?
- 3 WHAT IS THE JOURNEY TO BALOS BEACH CRETE LIKE?
- 4 WHAT IS GRAMVOUSA BEACH LIKE?
- 5 HOW FAR FROM BALOS BEACH DOES THE FERRY ANCHOR?
- 6 HOW TO GET TO BALOS BEACH FROM CHANIA?
- 7 ARE THERE ANY OTHER BALOS CRUISES?
- 8 IS THERE A BUS TO BALOS BEACH?
- 9 CAN YOU GET TO BALOS BEACH BY CAR?
- 10 WHAT ABOUT THE ROAD TO BALOS BEACH?
HOW TO GET TO BALOS BEACH – A SUMMARY
The Balos Beach boat runs daily from early May to late October – weather permitting
It runs from Kissamos Port, 2 km outside the town of Kissamos (which is also known to many Cretans as Kastelli) – which is 38 km (24 miles) from the city of Chania
The service is operated by Cretan Daily Cruises
The ferry Gramvousa has a capacity of 1200 passengers – in July and August high season it is full almost every day
It is considerably quieter during the shoulder season – there were around 300 people when we travelled in mid-October
The Balos ferry usually departs between 1000 and 1100, arriving back in Kissamos around 1800
The ferry to Balos beach costs 27 euros per adult and 13 euros per child
The journey takes around 50 minutes to Imeri Gramvousa Island – you have some time (90 minutes to 2 hours) there before returning to the boat
Once everyone is back on board, the journey to Balos takes a further 15 minutes
WHAT IS THE BALOS BEACH BOAT LIKE?
It’s a large ferry boat, comparable to many that you would use to go Greek island hopping.
The boat has all the facilities you need – you can stock up on water, drinks or food on board, or have sandwiches and meals at the cafeteria on the main deck.
There is seating inside and outside, with plenty of cover out on deck should you need it.
You can also rent beach gear including beach umbrellas. This is a good idea if you’re travelling in the summer peak season.
WHAT IS THE JOURNEY TO BALOS BEACH CRETE LIKE?
The journey is very scenic, as you have the coast of the rugged Rodopou peninsula on one side (starboard, or right) and the mountainous Balos peninsula on your left (port side).
WHAT IS GRAMVOUSA BEACH LIKE?
In a word, breathtaking. The turquoise water is some of the most beautiful we’ve seen anywhere in the world – and that includes extensive recent travel in Western Australia and along the Andaman Sea.
The island also has a Venetian fortress high above on a clifftop overlooking the beach. If you want to see both Gramvousa Castle and the beach, you won’t have much time at either. We suggest heading straight up to the Castle, coming back down and relaxing on the beach for the rest of the time.
HOW FAR FROM BALOS BEACH DOES THE FERRY ANCHOR?
It moors about a five-minute walk from the beach at Balos.
HOW TO GET TO BALOS BEACH FROM CHANIA?
There are two options – booking a Balos Beach tour from Chania or making your own way to the port at Kissamos. You will then be on the Kissamos ferry to Balos.
There are no regular direct Chania boat trips to Balos. You can charter a boat with a crew of two for between 500 and 1200 euros, depending on the number of passengers.
Likewise, there are no boats from Rethymno – it’s the same process, just a longer journey to and from Kissamos.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER BALOS CRUISES?
Yes, but options are very limited. You can go on a Balos cruise from the small harbour at Falassarna, but this service had ceased by early October when we visited.
IS THERE A BUS TO BALOS BEACH?
CAN YOU GET TO BALOS BEACH BY CAR?
Yes, you can. A dirt road runs along the east side of the Balos peninsula, finishing high up at the Balos Beach parking area. It’s a fairly steep downhill walk from there to beach level.
Remember that you’ll have to make the return trip uphill later – even in mid-October it can still be very hot. I saw a few people who weren’t up to the return hike, who had resorted to the so-called ‘donkey taxi’ up the hill. The sign said ‘donkey’, but the poor creatures burdened with this task were horses. Suffice to say I was not impressed.
WHAT ABOUT THE ROAD TO BALOS BEACH?
It’s a dirt road that should really only be accessed by off-road vehicles such as four-wheel drives (4WD).
Some who drove it in October said that the surface was quite good, and that they had made the journey by 2-wheel drive hire car. They put this down to a long period of dry weather beforehand.
I’ve read other accounts saying that the road can get badly rutted, indeed corrugated in places.
We didn’t try to drive it, preferring to take the Balos boat trip instead.
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.