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🏖️Balos Beach and Lagoon: One of the world’s most famous pink beaches in Crete

Balos Beach is located in the northwestern part of the island of Crete, approximately 56km northwest of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos. A cosy bay is formed between Cape Tigani and the rocky island of Gramvousa. Here, the water impresses with its fantastic shades from light blue to deep azure, turning in places into turquoise. Balos Bay is a true paradise, and it is included under state protection.

The beach season on Crete island is one of the longest in Europe. You can swim comfortably in Crete from May to October. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands. Its length from west to east is 250 km and from 14 to 37 kilometres from north to south. In total, Crete has over 400 beaches stunning in their variety: pebbly, with white and pink sand, wild, nudist and with a developed infrastructure, kilometre wide and micro-beaches in bays, hidden in rocks or palm groves – in short, the choice is rich. Crete has over 100 Blue Flag beaches and a diverse range of seaside scenery.

The Greeks are very fond of beautiful stories, so they call the bay of Balos “The Kiss of the three seas” – the Ionian, Libyan and Aegean seas, at the confluence of which the water plays with such bright colours. Try to guess which sea you are swimming in 😀

The pink beach of Balos

The pink beach of Balos

Balos beach is one of the two pink beaches of Crete, the second being the Elafonissi beach. That is not some kind of a metaphor! These beaches indeed are pink, with a light or very vibrant pink-coloured sand. Pink beaches are extremely rare. There are under ten solidly pink in the entire world, in places like the Bahamas, Barbuda, Indonesia, California, Maui, Spain and Crete.

What makes the Balos beach sand pink

The characteristic pink colour is thanks to an oyster-like microorganism called Benthic Foraminifera. The foraminifera are tiny, shelled animals that live in the sea, attached by a pseudopod (i.e. a ‘false foot’) under various rocks, reefs, and caves to eat. The shell of these animals is bright pink or red.

When other animals feed on them or when they die, their shells calcify are washed up on the sand, mixing with it and giving it the pink pigmentation in multiple shades. This process has been going on for the last 540 million years.

The location of Balos beach

This unique place Balos beach can be found in the western part of the Greek island of Crete, in the area of the large city of Kissamos in the northern part of the Gramvousa peninsula, 10 kilometres north of the settlement of Kaliviani. The bay lies between the main part of Crete and the island of Tigani. Although it is believed that Tigani is part of the Gramvousa Peninsula.

Balos Beach Map

Balos Beach Map

How to get to Balos beach

Balos can be reached in three ways:

  • ⛴️ The first and the easiest way to get to Balos beach is by morning ferry from Kissamos, get your ticket HERE. You will have the chance to see the wild beaches of Gramvousa and how they rose 6-9 meters after a strong earthquake in 365 AD. If you are lucky you may be accompanied by dolphins. In addition, there will be time on Gramvousa to swim on the exotic beach of Imeri Gramvousa, where you will see an old fortress and a wrecked ship.
  • 🚗 If you do not want to take the ferry and you have a 4WD car or mountain bike, you can get to the Balos beach by driving on the dirt road starting at Kaliviani and running along Cape Gramvousa for about 10 km. Parking near the applicable cafe, on the top of the mountain, the last point where you can get by car. The panoramic view of Balos and the island of Imeri Gramvousa is breathtaking. Further downhill, a long steep path, about 2 km, which ends with a stone staircase, built in 1999, leading to the beach.

Important note!

Most car rental companies in Crete prohibit driving on a dirt road on a rented car, even on off-road vehicles. Therefore, driving on a dirt road with a rented car, the driver takes full responsibility for possible damage.

  • 🚶‍♀️ Another exciting way to get to Balos is on foot. It is about three hours from Kaliviani, crossing the wild and dry landscape of Mas Gramvousa. Remember to take your hat and stock up with plenty of water. You can visit the small chapel of Saint George located in Tigani. Also, north of Balos, on Cape Korikon, are the ruins of the small Roman town of Agnio with the Temple of Apollo. Where, to this day, stands the picturesque chapel of Agios Sostys.

Facilities at Balos beach

The entire surrounding area, including beaches, is protected by environmental organizations, so the Balos beach infrastructure here is very modest. There are no shops or various cafes, no water sports and entertainment.

Sun loungers and umbrellas on Balos

At the very peak of the season (June-August), sun loungers and umbrellas will be organized here (for a fee of about 5-7 euros), a shower and an off-site cafe with a small selection of food.

The lack of visible conditions of civilization is not an obstacle to bringing the children. The beach is shallow enough, and there are practically no waves. While the whole sea is raging, there is absolute peace and tranquillity in Balos Bay.

Conclusion

A trip to Balos beach will definitely become a real paradise adventure! It doesn’t matter how you get here. The views of northwestern Crete will be mesmerizing along the way.

The nature of this beautiful place is awe-inspiring. There are no trees; the local flora is shrubs and grasses. And the entire landscape is as if water were brought to Mars, and natural recovery would begin – deserted, hilly and reddish-rocky land in an eternal duel with the blue sea.

Since the beach is very little equipped, you should definitely take a hat, sunscreen, glasses, and clothes with long sleeves. The sun can be very devious here. And, of course, if you go by car yourself, take very comfortable shoes, as you will need to go down to the bay, bypassing more than 2 km.

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