The Greek islands are undoubtedly one of the largest tourist references in Greece and one of the top European summer destinations. In fact, Greece territory includes almost 6000 islands in its territory, and of these, 227 inhabited, which makes the process of pickin one island to visit a difficult task. It is common to say that there is a Greek island for each one of our desires, and since we wanted a mixed experience of beaches, nature and history, we avoided the most famous places like Santorini and Mykonos and chose the island of Crete.
Crete is the largest Greek island with a population of more than 600,000 inhabitants and a culture based on unique traditions not found elsewhere in Greece. We chose to travel with Aegean Airlines, a star alliance member, and in 40 minutes (and with an extremely comfortable journey!) We left behind the bright and lively web of Athens and arrived at our destination in Crete, the city of Chania (Χανιά), 2nd largest city in Crete and relatively close to the most famous beaches on the island, which is why we prefered it over Heraklion (Ηράκλειο).
To get around in the island, we had to rent a car, which was easy at the airport, even considering the late hour at which we arrived. Given the myriad of possible choices, we opted for Kydon, a local company, and got a great price associated with a 5 star service.
On our first full day on the island of Crete, the destination was one of the most beautiful and desirable beaches on the island, but also one of the wildest and hardest to reach: Balos beach. The journey to the beach from Chania takes approximately 1h20min, and presents us with a highly Mediterranean view of extensive olive groves, interspersed with semi-desert areas only populated by several scattered hives where the famous cretan honey is produced. To accompany us on this trip is always the sea, with paradisiacs shades of blue that really invite you to stop anywhere to swim a bit. Shortly after Kissamos (Κίσσαμος), the road changes from wide to a tortuous dirt road (which has a toll of € 2), and this will be the environment of the last 7km of car journey. However, monotony never sets in because all the path is often populated by wild goats who like to cross the road and make it difficult for tourists. Finally, the last 2km to the beach are made on foot, through the semi-desertic cliff. The path is not easy and requires some physical ability, especially when returning, which in our case was even harder because of the torrid heat.
We chose to spend the day at the beach, and If It weren’t for the absence of palm trees, we would never say that it was not a beach in Polynesia or the Caribbean, because of the hot water, always seeing the bottom, where we share the moments of swiming with fish that move around us. On the beach there is only one cafe, where you can buy drinks, water and sandwiches, for very reasonable prices.
Only later did we discovered that it is possible to go to Balos beach by boat, catching it in the port of Kissamos for only € 12. Nevertheless, despite all the effort associated with the difficult route, we advise the traditional way where you can discover the Mediterranean landscape and the culture of the island.
In the next post, we go to the most famous beach of the island and we go to other cities of Crete!