Balos & Gramvousa

13 April 2017

At the Northwest end of Crete, on the boundaries of Kisamos, there is a wild but beautiful peninsula that ends with one of the most exotic sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea, Balos (known among the locals as “Tigani”).

Balos, a dominating and characteristic picture of the Chania area, stands opposite two small islands Iremi (tamed) and Agria (wild) Gramvousa. Every day, tour boats bring many visitors to the first island who want to visit the Venetian Castle, which was the base of Cretan rebellions against the Turks for years.

 

Balos’ fantastic beach

Balos is an exotic beach situated on a scenery of indescribable beauty in the Northwest end of Chania municipality and was known in the past as “the fishermen’s port”. Lots of visitors, locals, Greek and international visitors, arrive at the white sandy beach with the crystal clear waters, every day during the summer months, mainly with fairy boats form Kissamos. However, there are also the daring visitors who travel that far by car or on foot, taking a natural path of a few kilometers leading above Balos Beach. Those get to know Balos in all its glory and take panoramic pictures of one of the Cretan wonders of nature.

There is an easy walking path that leads to the beach after 35 minutes. The most exciting part of the route is after having walked one third of it and Balos beach reveals its magnificent beauty to the astonished eyes of the traveler. The most beautiful pictures of the area have been taken from that same spot. The steep and rocky slopes of Geroskinos Mountain end to a golden white sandy beach followed by an enormous round rock which entraps seawater, forming a wide lagoon, only a few centimetres deep. On the right side of the bay the waters get deeper and visitors can enjoy swimming amongst exotic islets of sand. Further north, the two islands of Gramvousa complete the scenery, with the first one being distinct for its castle build on top.

 

The islands: Imeri (tamed) and Agria (wild) Gramvousa

Agria Gramvousa is the farthest of the two islands and the most “inhospitable” as it is betrayed by its name. It is a rocky island, surrounded by high and sharp rocks which do not allow disembarkation on it. However, Agria Gramvousa has been included in the Natura program, since it hosts a large number of birds, and so it is considered to be a protected area.

Visitors disembark on Iremi Gramvousa at a small port on the south coast. The boat trip from Kisamos lasts about an hour. Nevertheless the scenery with its fantastic sandy beach rewards the visitor. There is also an old shipwreck of a small cargo ship dating from 1968 that gives an air of mystery in the area.

 

The Castle

In 1584, while the Venetians were trying to protect the land from pirate raids, they built a grand Castle right above the natural port on Iremi Gramvousa. It has a triangle shape and each side is more than one kilometre in length. The Castle was surrendered to the Turks in 1692 and in later years it became a pirates’ lair who were plundering ships travelling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. During the liberation years against the Turks, the Castle became the headquarters of the Revolutionary Committee of Crete.

Along side the path that visitors use to go up to the castle there is a small chapel devoted to the Saint Apostles.

 

Visiting Balos & Gramvousa

During the summer months, small and bigger boats leave daily from Kisamos to visit Gramvousa and then they stop at Balos where visitors can enjoy their swim.