Balos, the Med's best beach
There are not many beaches you walk on where the sand is pink, just as there are not many beaches which require you navigate a daunting, cliff-edge drive to get to. But, this isn’t just any beach, this is Balos, in Crete, Greece, and the effort required to get there just makes it all the more special and memorable.

During our recent travels to the island, the trip became an absolute ‘must’. Balos is an experience. It is not just another beach for sunbathing and a good spot for a quick dip to cool off, it has a certain magic surrounding it. So, dive in and check out ED’s guide to Balos, the Med’s best beach.

What makes Balos different?

The Med is full of incredible beaches, with the obligatory white sand, turquoise sea, and great views. But, Balos has all of this, and so much more.

Firstly, as I have said, it’s not easily reached, unless you come by boat, which really takes away part of the fun. By road, you’ll be in for a bumpy ride, followed by a 30-minute trek over a rocky hill-top, before being presented with one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever come across.

Balos, the Med's best beach

Of course the sand is pink, what else would you expect from the Med’s best beach?

Several hundred metres below is a lagoon with lucid shades of blue and green, and bright white sand. If you are after a truly exotic setting for that next Instagram post, then look no further.

Once you’ve taken your spot on the rocks, and got that perfect picture, there’s another 10-minute descent before reaching the beach and the warm waters, where there’s even a small, uninhabited island, Cape Tigani, which you can walk to.

Balos, the Med's best beach

Cape Tigani can be reached across the lagoon

Anyone for a donkey ride?

If the idea of walking down and especially back up a steep, rocky path is just too much for you, then you could always ride on a donkey instead. Yep, I did say Balos is unique, and it’s not just because of its stunning natural beauty. You’ll see donkeys up and down the hillside ferrying tourists, especially in the hottest summer months. While they are very much part of the Balos landscape, the idea of riding on the back of a donkey doesn’t really sit right with me. ED’s recommendation would be to take a sturdy pair of shoes along with you, as well as your flip-flops.

Balos, the Med's best beach

Donkeys are a common sight on the walk to and from the beach

Photos… and more photos

The shallow, warm waters of the lagoon are perfect for swimming in, splashing around in… and posing in. I say posing, as visitors spend most of their time taking photos. That might seem vain, but it’s not often you have such a picture-perfect setting. If you can’t get a great photo here for your followers, then you may as well pack up and go home.

Balos, the Med's best beach

With scenery this good, you’ll be taking plenty of photos

Getting there

There are two ways of accessing Balos, either along the coast, followed by a very rocky, bumpy cliff-top road which leads to a car park, where you’ll then walk over to the beach, or alternatively you can catch a ferry from the village of Kissamos, which includes a stop at Gramvousa, which has a fort. ED’s recommendation is to drive.

The walk from the car park only builds the excitement of what lies on the other side, and once you set eyes on the lagoon, you won't be disappointed.

If you are up for an adventure, you won’t regret it. Around five minutes’ drive from Kissamos (4,7 Km)  is a right turn that leads to the village of Kaliviani. From here you’ll continue up to Balos Beach Hotel, and then pick up the 8km dirt path that eventually leads to the parking. The path won’t be kind to your hire car, but the views on the drive up and along the coast are fantastic. The walk from the car park only builds the excitement of what lies on the other side, and once you set eyes on the lagoon, you won’t be disappointed.

Balos, the Med's best beach

You are in for a bumpy ride, but it’s all part of the adventure

Driving also gives you more independence. You can pick and choose when to arrive and leave, which means you can avoid the busiest times, and stay into the evening when the sun goes down, which is another unforgettable experience which those on the boat will miss.

Read ED’s guide to Crete.