Balos Lagoon

Balos Lagoon: Crete's Saphire and A Paradise in Chania

Balos Lagoon, on Crete’s northwestern coast, is a famous Mediterranean beauty. This breathtaking beach is well-known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, silky white sand, and distinct natural beauty. Balos, located between the Gramvousa Peninsula and Cape Tigani and 56 kilometers from Chania, provides visitors with a gorgeous location that feels like paradise on Earth. Let’s dive in and explore this magnificent destination.


Balos Lagoon is a natural port, protected by the islands in the area, Agria (meaning: wild) and Imeri (meaning: tame) Gramvousa notable for its formidable fortification.

One of the most striking features of Balos Beach is its shallow lagoon, which provides a stunning variation of blue and turquoise hues.

The lagoon is ideal for swimming, particularly for families with children, because the water is tranquil and inviting.

Its soft sands, with some areas appearing pink due to crushed shells and corals, offer a perfect contrast and diversity in the landscape.

The surrounding backdrop of craggy cliffs and rocky outcrops adds to the attractiveness of Balos Beach, making it a popular destination for both nature enthusiasts and photographers.

On the northern edge, deeper waters are suitable for swimming and snorkeling, although caution is advised due to slippery rocks.

DIverse ecosystem

Both Balos and Gramvousa are under the protection of the Natura 2000 program, prohibiting activities that may harm the ecosystem.

Such activities are strictly forbidden: leaving rubbish, taking natural items, catching animals, free camping, starting fires, or smoking near bushes.

The area features a pristine landscape with cacti and low vegetation, resembling Africa.

It is home to diverse wildlife, including over 100 bird species and 400 plant species.

Some of the most famous inhabitants of the area are the seals Monachus- Monachus, the sea turtles Karetta- Karetta and the Eleonora falcons.

Despite the safety precautions, some canteens and umbrellas have appeared on the beach in recent years. You may buy water there and at the ferries’ bars.

access to balos

Getting to Balos can be an adventure in and of itself.

Visitors can choose to hike down from the neighboring parking area or take a boat ride from Kissamos port, both of which provide unique views of the coastline and surrounding islands.

The trek to Balos is part of the experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the beauty of Crete’s mountainous landscape and unique flora.

Visitors to Balos can rest on the soft beach, swim in the clean waters, or explore the neighboring trails, which lead to panoramic views of the lagoon.

It can be crowded during high season, but you can always find remote bays just for yourself by doing a bit of exploration.

If you decide to come to Balos Lagoon by boat, you have the choice to explore the Imeri Gramvousa islet, which hosts a great Venetian fortress and breathtaking views of the lagoon.

imeri Gramvousa islet

Gramvousa islet (Imeri) is located around 3 kilometers from Balos Lagoon and is only accessible by boat.

It is famous for its historical Venetian fort, which still rises 137 metres above the beach, offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and Balos Lagoon.

Throughout the years, Venetians, Turks, Cretan rebels, and pirates have used the fort. According to folklore, a tremendous treasure is hidden on the island.

In addition, the old wreck that was abandoned many years ago near the beach has become a recognizable feature of the area. On the island’s south side, there are two big bays separated by the shipwreck.

Every day, hundreds of visitors arrive at the bay’s small jetty (below the castle) by excursion boat.

The boats depart from Kissamos (1-hour ride) and stop here before continuing on to the gorgeous beach of Balos.

The guests explore the area, visiting the fortress and the wreck.

They can also swim in the crystal clear waters of the western cove, which is close to the Holy Apostles Church.

The beach, which is a stunning turquoise hue, features white sand and rocks in parts.

Some tamarisk trees grow near the beach, providing natural shade. The bottom of the area is good for snorkeling.

Agria Gramvousa is located north of the Cape of Gramvousa, and access to the islet is very difficult because of the high rocks surrounding the island.

history of Gramvousa

Gramvousa was once known as Korykos, and the name “Gramvousa” is derived from the Venetian word Garabuse.

The Venetian Fortress was built between 1579 to 1584, and its location was critical and essential for protecting the island’s northeastern flank.

Its scale remains impressive, with a triangle shape and sides that exceed one kilometer, and it can accommodate 3000 men.

Despite its outstanding features, it appears that the Venetians did not deploy it in a significant fight. The Turks bribed the Venetian commandant and took Gramvousa in 1892.

Later, it fell into the hands of the Cretan Revolutionaries (1825), who used it to determine the fate of the freedom battle.

It became the seat of the Revolutionary Committee of Crete and served as a base for 3000 rebels who, due to a scarcity of food in the area, were forced to become pirates.

The island gained a bad reputation throughout Europe before being liberated in 1830 with the help of Kapodistrias (the first Prime Minister of Greece). Following the London Protocol in 1830, Crete, including the fort, was returned to the Turks until the island was liberated.

As far as the story behind the shipwreck that adds to the graphic scenery of the islet is concerned, it isn’t connected to the events we mentioned above.

The ship was actually a merchant ship that set sail in 1967 from Chalkida, and it was transferring 440 tons of cement to North Africa.

Due to bad weather, the captain decided to anchor the ship in this natural port until the storm passes.

Unfortunately, one of its two anchors broke, and the waves crushed into its engine room.

The captain ordered its abandonment, and the crew was saved by a destroyer, deployed from Souda Bay, named Ierax. The shipwreck remained there from then until today.

access to gramvousa

You can get to Gramvousa islet by taking a ferry from Kissamos port, which usually starts at around 10:30 am. Otherwise, you can get an excursion program from some tour offices.

The excursion usually starts with a bus taking you to Kissamos port to take the ferry, which then takes you to Gramvousa, where you have two hours to explore the islet.

Then you will continue to Balos Lagoon, where you will stay for around three hours until it is time for your return.

Photos featuring BALOS LAGOON & Gramvousa


Sunbathing & Swimming
Snorkeling & Paddling
Trek Trail at Gramvousa Peninsula
Visit Gramvousa Ruins
Explore the shipwreck
Spot wildlife
Walk on the white-pink coastline
Photography, take in the views
Family Moments

How to Get There

Reaching Balos Lagoon requires a bit of planning, but the journey is part of the experience:

  • By Car: The most convenient option is to rent a car and drive to the Balos parking lot. From there, you can either hike or take a boat to the lagoon. The drive takes around 1.5 to 2 hours from Chania city.
  • Boat Excursions: Many tour operators in Chania offer boat excursions to Balos Lagoon, providing a more leisurely and scenic approach. These tours often include stops at other nearby attractions, such as Gramvousa Island, and allow for ample time to explore and relax.


Balos Lagoon is a wonderful site with turquoise waters, virgin beaches, and stunning landscapes. Balos Lagoon provides something for everyone, whether you’re wanting to relax or explore. It is a spot that you will not want to miss when visiting Chania, Greece, due to its distinct geography, historical sites, and lovely surroundings.


Timing is key!
Plan your visit during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds and fully appreciate the tranquility of the lagoon.
Comfortable Footwear!
Exploring Balos Lagoon involves some walking and potentially hiking, so it's essential to wear comfortable footwear, such as sturdy sandals or sneakers. The terrain can be uneven and rocky, so be prepared for a bit of adventure as you navigate the paths.
Picnic Supplies!
Consider packing a picnic to enjoy amidst the stunning natural surroundings of Balos Lagoon. Bring along some snacks, sandwiches, and refreshing drinks. This way, you can savor a delicious meal while taking in the breathtaking views. Don't forget to pack a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your visit.
Beach Gear!
Balos Lagoon is a paradise for beach lovers, so be sure to pack all your beach essentials. Bring a beach towel, a beach mat or chair, and a beach umbrella for shade. These items will ensure your comfort as you relax and soak up the sun on the pristine sandy shores of the lagoon.
Relax and Immerse Yourself!
Finally, take a moment to simply relax and soak in the tranquility of Balos Lagoon. Allow yourself to disconnect from the outside world, unwind on the sandy beach, and appreciate the awe-inspiring natural surroundings. Let the serenity of the lagoon rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.
Respect the Environment!
Balos Lagoon is a pristine natural area, and it's crucial to preserve its beauty for future generations. Respect the environment by not leaving any trash behind. Bring a reusable bag to collect your garbage and dispose of it in designated bins or take it back with you. Leave only footprints and take only memories.

Destinations near balos lagoon

More options for nearby locations to plan your vacations better!


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