On our last day in Crete, we left Elafonissi early in the morning and headed to Balos, hoping for better weather and the chance of a swim.
There are two ways to get there: take the boat from a neighbouring town, like Kissamos, or drive. We thought we would arrive too late for the former, and after checking Google Maps it didn't look like it would be worth it. You see, if you look up "Balos Beach" there, it appears to be right at the beginning of the peninsula, next to Kissamos. Why would we take the boat there, I wondered. As it turned out, Maps was wrong. Not too wrong - but the place marked on the map is where the road there starts, not ends. The peninsula is protected, so you have to pay a small toll (2-3€, can't remember exactly) there to get in the worst road ever.
It's a very narrow road that goes along the edge of the mountain, with steep ups and downs, and it's about 50% dirt, 50% solid rock. Sounds good already, no? Ha. It's also a two way road, so somehow you have to make space for the cars coming back. Take 30min to do 7km in a road that is basically a straight line? Check. Dirtiest rental car ever returned? Check.
The views are nice, but I'd bet they're also nice from the boat. I guess what I'm trying to say is, TAKE THE BOAT. Unless you have a jeep, in which case driving won't be so bad, and you can get there before all the other sane people disembark.
Anyway. At the end of the road there's a big parking lot, with lots of goats and apparently the best Greek Yoghurt in the island - that we didn't try, even though we packed no food. We trusted there would be a place to eat down there, always is, right? From there you go through a small footpath to the other side of the peninsula, with more goats (photo above), until you reach the breathtaking view of the photo below.
You might be wondering about the height difference between where this photo was taken and the actual beach down there. The footpath turns into stairs down the vertical side of the cliff, that mysteriously end in a dune of very fine white sand, which becomes coarser and sharper as you get closer to the water until it sort of hurts you feet and you regret having taken your sandals off so soon (just me?).
That's only for that small part of the beach, though, everything else is rainbows and butterflies (one butterfly, at least, who was very interested in landing on my face). We found a place to eat (gambling sometimes pays off), with delicious food (not surprising, at this point of the trip!), a beautiful dog and tables under the olive trees. Have I mentioned I'm a terrible food blogger? No photos of the meal, or of any meal we had, sorry!
After we left our stuff in the patch of sand in the middle of the lagoon and went walking around. There are long shallow parts that are very warm, since they've been heating up in the Sun all day, and deeper parts where you can swim that were cold. There was also sand that seemed pinker than in Elafonissi, but that might have been because it was sunny here.
Despite the cold water, the chilly breeze and intermittent clouds, BF went for a swim. I just walked around with my feet sunk in warm water, unsuccessfully trying to take photos of transparent fish that fled really fast into the deeper, colder water where I didn't dare chase them.
So here's a picture of me pointing at them instead.
And pictures of me thinking "Hey, my legs aren't freezing anymore, maybe I can take a swim, Let me take off my dress, sit down on this rock and... NOPE. I'm out."
We headed off to Chania in the late afternoon, and spent the evening there going through every single street in the maze that is the city center and had a lovely dinner - sadly it was too dark for me to take any photos, and we had to fly back to Munich very early in the morning.
We will come back here for more than a weekend, for sure. In summer, when there don't seem to be strong winds, but also in every other season to explore the inside of the island better, which from the little we saw on the road was every bit as beautiful.