Ever since I can remember, my dream in life has been to go to Greece. I have wanted to walk the streets of Santorini and swim in some of the best beaches in the world. I wanted to eat the Greek food and explore the islands like the girls in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 😉
In fact, I have had this perfect vision of what Greece would be like in my head for so long that I was worried I would be disappointed, or let down in some way when I actually went there. (You know how sometimes when you want something so badly that when you get it, you’re a bit like, “Oh that’s it…?”) Well. Let me tell you. Greece is NOT like that.
It exceeded any and all expectations that I had and I would add it to the top of anyone’s travel bucket list. I really think it is the most beautifully relaxing place in the world. Honestly. It is the best place I have been hands down and I would go every single year if I had the chance. This was also our first truly relaxing trip with no exact itinerary – and that’s how everyone should plan to visit Greece. It’s a go-with-the-flow type of place.
As I began to look back at my photos, every single place was so full of the magic of Greece that I didn’t want to leave any of it out, or have a blog post a mile long 🙂 So that said, I will be sharing with you separate posts on each destination we visited during our 7-day trip to help you see the places we went in their entirety. We’ll start with our day trip to Balos Beach in Crete. Then in separate posts, I will get into more of the specifics of where we stayed and how we got there, places we went, etc.
So here we go:
Day One in Greece; Balos Beach on the island of Crete
For our first full day in Greece, we rented a car and decided to drive to the remote beach called Balos Beach. Before our trip, I researched extensively for the most beautiful beaches in Crete and Balos kept coming to the top of the list every single time so off we went. Now, if you have done any research on getting to Balos Beach on Gramvousa Bay you will hear people tell you not to drive and to take the ferry in instead. But, since my husband and I are not ones for being on someone else’s timeline (especially on our limited itinerary vacation), we opted to drive ourselves so we could leave the beach when we were good and ready and not have to be gone from 10am-6pm on a ferry. BUT, holy cow! What an adventure getting to this beach!!!
We stayed in the town of Agia Marina (just outside of Chania- more on this later) and then drove to the beach through the town of Kissamos, which was actually quite short – it took us about 25 minutes to get to Kissamos via the National Highway. However, we then found our way onto some small, dirt roads and that’s where the adventure really started. We rented a 4-wheel drive Suzuki for about 40 Euros a day and It.Was.Awesome.
Be warned that you could NOT drive this road without an off-road vehicle of some kind. The road was hilly and bumpy and windy and by no means a smooth ride. We were on it for about 30 minutes or so. But the views were spectacular and I would recommend it to anyone who is a confident driver. It cost 1 Euro per person to drive on the road and parking was free.
Not to mention, there were cute little goats everywhere along the way :
Eventually, we made it through the rough terrain to the “parking lot” – as seen below.
In the parking lot were…wait for it… more goats!
They were actually quite smart, as they came to wait for the cars to arrive each morning. Since there was no form of natural shade anywhere in sight, they could lay under the cars for shade. So, if you do drive to Balos, make sure to check under your car before you leave!
Even though we were now parked, we were not quite at the beach yet. Now, it’s time to hike! This was much worse than the actual driving. It was a long, sunny, hot hike – about 45 minutes or so. Visitors do have the option to take a donkey ride to/from the beach if they’d rather ride than walk. We chose to walk. The way up was much harder than the way down 😉 But again, the views made it all worthwhile and actually distracted from the walk itself. It wasn’t that bad and I would still chose to drive over take the ferry any day.
Here’s a look at some photos on our walk from the parking lot to the beach:
Seriously, is this not one of the most beautiful places you have ever seen? Ugh. I just die.
This is the pathway we walked up (and down) from our parking lot to the beach.
Eventually, we did make it to the beach 🙂 We were able to rent a pair of umbrellas and chairs for somewhere around 6 or 8 Euros total. My advice is to try to arrive to the beach before the ferry does (around 2pm I think) just to make sure you have a chair. However, this beach is so large that even though there were a lot of people there, it did not feel like it AT ALL. It felt like we were only sharing the beach with the people around us in their sun chairs. Oh, and there is also a snack stand on the beach, if you’re curious.
Ahh, and the water was just so clear. I have never seen anything like it.
Below is the ferry we opted not to take.
After spending the afternoon relaxing, swimming and snorkeling, it was time for us to head back the same way we came. But, not without taking some photos of our Smurf-colored Suzuki beforehand.
If you are on the western side of Crete and debating which beaches to see, add Balos Beach to your list! It was beautiful, exciting and getting there makes for a great story 🙂 However, if you plan on driving, I would be sure to do it at the beginning of your trip or on a day that you’re well rested.
Be sure to read all about the rest of our trip to Greece, including the following locations: