I’d always thought my travels had taken me to beaches with some pretty incredible turquoise waters, but then I went to Crete and my mind was blown. Balos Lagoon literally takes the cake for the most vibrant, turquoise water I’ve ever laid eyes on! With looks like that, it’s no surprise Prince Charles and Princess Diana paid a visit on their private yacht back in the day.
This turquoise paradise is located about 60km from Chania in Crete. This is the largest island in Greece, so don’t come here thinking you can do it all in a day. At a bare minimum you should give yourself at least 4 days to explore, but a week would be ideal. However if you’re short on time, the one place you absolutely 100% must not leave the island without seeing is of course Balos Lagoon.
With dozens of different shades of turquoise in the lagoon and surrounding sea, you certainly won’t be short for a photo-op. If you arrive by boat, make sure you climb up the mountain to really experience this jaw dropping landscape. If you’re arriving by car, you’ll actually be parking at the top of the mountain and walking down to the beach from there. If you do decide to hire a car and drive to Balos Lagoon, do yourself a favour and arrive in the early morning before the hordes of tourists start arriving by the boatload. The opportunity to have this remote beach all to yourself will be well worth the early wake up call.
A short boat ride away from Balos Lagoon is the uninhabitated island of Gramvousa, famous for its Venetian built castle that once protected Crete from Turkish occupation. The island also managed to gain itself a pirate reputation, with island residents constantly looting passing boats. If you take the 20-minute climb up to the castle ruins, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of the ocean and nearby islands.
A hire car on an island the size of Crete is going to be your best friend, particularly if you want to avoid the much longer travel times of public transport. I personally had no desire to even attempt driving on the other side of the road, so I booked a day tour. This involved a bus to Kissamos port and then a ferry to Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island. Although I hated having to keep to a schedule and only getting 2 hours at each stop, it was much more convenient than the multiple buses and extra hours I would have had to endure on public transport.
Where is the most turquoise water you’ve ever seen?