Crete definitely takes the cake when it comes to unusual beaches! Prior to visiting Seitan Limania, one of our first stops on the island was the Balos Lagoon. I’d discovered it during my travel research and knew it wasn’t to be missed, despite reading a few off-putting comments regarding the drive, hike-in and the occasional unpleasant scent (thanks to shallow and fairly still water). Thankfully, none of those were an issue for us.
We left Chania around 10 am, driving westward on the freeway until it turned into a dirt road. It was dusty and bumpy, with never-ending twists and turns, along with errant goats that would pop out to say hello. But the lovely views of the aquamarine water butted up against the vermillion colored sand and desert-like coastline made up for any irritating anomalies.
All in all, it took a little under an hour to get there. Eventually the road ended at a nondescript plot of land, also known as a “Greek car park”. With what appears to be only goats (and maybe one guy) in charge, cars are squeezed into impossibly tight spaces, angled in all directions, with no rhyme or reason. Somehow, it works despite the disorganization and haphazardness.
The hike there isn’t too bad. It’s mostly downhill on a well worn trail. And while the heat can be a bit intense, as soon as the lagoon comes into view, it propels even the whiniest of children right down the hill. Besides, there’s plenty of places to stop for a breather or take photos of the bizarre blip of land and sea below.
At the bottom, there’s another several hundred yards of sand to trudge through before getting to the actual beach. On the left, is a knee-high, shallow pool filled with what feels like warm bathwater. To the right, is a fairly normal, albeit incredibly turquoise sea, with glints of pink in the soft, white sand. When we arrived, they were just setting up the loungers and umbrellas, so we rented ours right away, knowing the beach would soon be full. I’m glad we did, because they ran out quickly and people had to wait for others to leave if they wanted some reprieve from the sun.
Now, the hike back up is a slightly different story. After relaxing in the hot sun and sea, trudging through sand and then hiking in even warmer temperatures through the desert — it isn’t so appealing. Our 11 year old was bright red and thought she was going to have to flag down a donkey taxi. I had a toddler on my back and a 9 year old to prod along, so I wasn’t too sympathetic. She managed to rally, but even I will admit — the return trip was much more challenging.
TIPS + SUGGESTIONS
- Go early! The boats arrive around noon and bring loads of people to the area.
- Be prepared for the drive, hike-in and lack of facilities. In other words, expect a bumpy ride and about an hour total of hiking.
- If the drive/hike doesn’t appeal, you can also arrive by boat.
- Bring everything you need with you: money for lounger and umbrella, snacks, sunscreen, water, towels, etc.
- Plan to rent a lounger/umbrella. There’s no shade to speak of and it’s nice to have a place to take a break from the hot sun. Ours cost €8 ea.
- This is a great area for children to play and swim — just mind the reef and rocky spots!
- There are donkey taxis for hire if the hike is too much.
- On your way back, stop for a late but traditional lunch at Gramvousa Restaurant in Kalivani. Delicious and beautiful! (see photos below)