Crete is the largest island in Greece and home to one of the best beaches called Elafonisi beach and Balos Bay. Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea. I always wanted to fully explore Greece, but there are just some islands and places which are expensive and at the moment I couldn’t afford to visit. For example, I always wanted to go to Santorini but the flights and accommodation are super expensive. So I looked for something else. And here it was, beautiful island Crete.
HOW TO GET TO CRETE
The best way and the cheapest way how to get to Crete is to fly to Heraklion, the capital of Crete. There are many flights flying to Heraklion. And the flights are relatively cheap, if you book in advance. If you want to skip Heraklion and head straight to the beach, check flights to Chania.
Crete has many beautiful places and people are wonderful. Wherever we would go, people were friendly.
You can easily find accommodation in Crete which won’t cost you more than 50-70 EU for 2 people per night. We used booking.com (get 15€ off with our link HERE).
And how can I forget food. The food is so delicious and considerably cheap. What I loved about Crete’s restaurants is that at the end of our dinner we always got a huge portion of free watermelon as a dessert and also shot of raki (an alcoholic drink that is popular in Turkey, Greece, Iran).
As Crete is a considerably big island, you should decide which part of the island you would like to discover. If you have only a few days or a week I recommend going to the western part of Crete. After some research, I found two awesome beaches I wanted to see: Elafonisi beach and Balos Bay. Both of them are located on the western coast of Crete and easy to access by car from the city Chania.
DRIVE FROM HERAKLION TO CHANIA
If you want to see beautiful beaches Elafonisi and Balos Bay you have to go to Chania. At first, we spent 2 days in Heraklion, we walked around the city and visited famous Knossos. From Heraklion, we rented a car and drove to Chania. It is a drive of around 2 hours.
Chania is a very beautiful city with a lot of sightseeing options and a cute harbour. At night it gets really busy. I am very glad we didn’t have accommodation in Chania but outside of the city. I can imagine the streets are super noisy
WHERE TO STAY IN CHANIA, CRETE
I would like to show you our awesome room with the view on Chania. Took us around 10 minutes to get to the city by car. The hotel is called Akrotiri and has wonderful 9.0 rating on booking.com. We absolutely loved the ocean view from our bedroom.
A DAY TO TRIP TO ELAFONISI BEACH, CRETE
If you are staying in Chania, a day trip to this beautiful beach is perfect. Turquoise waters, rose-tinted sand and shallow warm waters, in one word: paradise. I was so excited to see this place, I call it “pink beach” because of its pink sand which was created from tonnes of crushed shells. Elafonisi beach totally reminded me of the Caribbean because of its white sand and turquoise water.
And I recently found out that Elafonisi beach was rated as one of the best 25 beaches to visit according to Business Insider. Check it out here if you like: 25 beaches to see in your lifetime.
HOW TO GET TO ELAFONISI BEACH FROM CHANIA
Elafonisi is located 76 km west of Chania in the southwestern point of Crete and 5 km south of Chrysoskalitisa Monastery. You can rent a car and drive there yourself. It will take you only 1,5 hours from Chania. Our journey took a bit longer as we had few stops along the road. We stopped in the city Palaiochora for a short coffee break and also in Samaria Gorge for this wonderful view.
The road is very narrow with many turns and curves, but the beautiful landscapes is worth seeing. We highly recommend to spend a day wandering around the Samaria Gorge. If you are into hiking then check Samaria Gorge full day trekking excursion.
If you cannot drive, you can simply book a full day trip from Chania HERE.
Once you arrive at Elafonisi Beach, there is a huge area for parking. The eastern side of the beach, in the front of lagoon, has the most people. There are umbrellas with seats, showers, lifeguards, little bars and also changing rooms.
But if you want to have more peaceful surroundings, then the western side of the beach is perfect for you. I also saw most of the pink sand there. Elafonisi is a “Natura 2000” protected area where turtles and other rare animals have their nests. Therefore, you are not allowed to take any plants or even sand from the area.
A DAY TRIP TO BALOS BAY
I know…isn’t this just an awesome view?
I think I wouldn’t even have to write much about that place, as you can see it for yourselves that this place is breathtaking. But of course, we are here to share with you a few tips and important info.
HOW TO GET TO BALOS BAY FROM CHANIA
The famous lagoon of Balos is located approximately 56 km northwest of Chania and 17 km northwest of Kissamos.
Firstly, if you don’t want to rent a car, you can take the ferry from Kissamos which costs around 25-30 EU.
There are also many affordable full day tours from Kissamos Port near Chania. So if you don’t like to drive and would love to enjoy ocean views and coastline, then check a nice full-day boat cruise HERE.
If you drive a car, you would arrive at Kaliviani where you need to pay a small fee which goes to protecting the Balos Reservoir. And from there, the fun begins. We were driving mostly at walking speed or max 30 km/h. To cross the 10 km of rocky stony road is definitely worth it and lovely company is guaranteed.
After some time you will arrive at the large parking area and from there, you follow a path for approximately 1 km which leads to the beach.
After 15 minutes of walking, you will have this awesome view. BREATHTAKING!
Have you seen those steps? Be prepared! Returning to the parking area is quite hard and tiring (I had couple of stops).
It gets really hot, and there is not much shade. I also recommend to take a hat with you and even put a towel (as I did) around your back and shoulders. You don’t want to get red as tomato before you even get to the beach.
The lagoon of Balos has white sand and beautiful blue and turquoise waters. The sea is very shallow, calm and warm. In many places, the sand has a lovely pinkish colour. You can also rent beach chairs with an umbrella (7 EU per day). There was even cute boat where we could buy fresh fruits and water.
OUR TIP: I highly recommend to come in the morning around 10 AM as there are not many tourists, and ferries come a bit later, so you can take great pictures.
Enjoy your time in Crete, I am sure you will love it as much as I did. If you decide to travel to those places, please let me know, I would love to see your pictures from your trip.
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