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Western Crete, Greece

Gramvousa Islet and Balos Lagoon (image by Thinkscape)

Feel like finding some space... with the wind in your hair?

Gramvousa Γραμβούσα is a stunning unpopulated islet with beaches of fine sand and pebbles at the far north western tip of Crete in Greece.

There are no settlements in this part of Crete so it is just possible to visit for the day, trek there or cruise there by boat. However one arrives, this is one of the most stunning places in Crete. 

Surrounded by rocky cliffs and never-ending azure waters, this is one place where it feels good to be alive. Atop the steep sided rocky knoll of the islet are ruins of a Venetian castle from 1582.

Beautiful beach and islet, west Crete

The dream-like Balos Lagoon, opposite the islet, is surely some of the finest swimming in the Mediterranean. Here flow crisp clear waters on white, white sand and nothing to impede the eye in a perfectly natural land and seascape.

The islets named Agria and Imeri, wild and tame respectively, lie off Cape Tigani on the peninsula to the west of the Bay of Kissamos.

The closest settlements are Kalyviani, Falasarna and Kastelli-Kissamos. 

There is quite a history here, as the strategic point of defence of Kriti. Pirate activity is legendary here, including the exploits of Pirate Barbarossa . In the many caves dotted around these cliffs, perhaps there are still treasures buried? Cretan rebels also used this castle as a stronghold.

Hiking on this peninsular is beautiful, there are ocean and cliff views, the area is covered in thyme, oregano and wild flowers, and there are views over Kissamos Bay to the Rodopos peninsula.

Getting to Gramvousa Islet and Balos Lagoon

Balos Lagoon, Crete (image by Mark Latter)Image by Mark Latter

By Car and Hiking

There is a gravel road only and you will need a decent vehicle. From Kastelli-Kissamos in western Crete, drive west by 6 km to the village of Kaliviani, here take the gravel road north-west along the peninsula to Cape Ligari. At the end of the road, park near Agia Irini church, and take the signed foot path for about 3 hours.

A 4x4 is really the best vehicle to take - see the video below which shows the road really clearly.

This is rocky coastal country with low lying plants, without shade. Be prepared with plenty of water.

By Boat

Cretan Daily Cruises offer a day cruise to Gramvousa Islet and Balos LagoonCretan Daily Cruises offer a day cruise to Gramvousa Islet and Balos Lagoon

From the lovely town of Kastelli-Kissamos in western Crete the cruise boats leave daily in high season to take visitors on a delightfully scenic cruise to the islets, with an optional walk up to see the ruins of the castle, and swimming in Balos Lagoon.

Gramvousa & Balos Lagoon Experience

You may decide to take an organised day tour to this beach from Chania town - Gramvousa Day Tour from Chania - this makes the logistics of the day very easy...

These beautiful islets and Balos Lagoon - one of the most unique and memorable places in Crete.

Accommodation and Taverna

See our suggestions for beach accommodation nearby, including Mediterranean Studios and Apartments at Kissamos.

Or perhaps you would prefer a small village hotel such as the Kaliviani Traditional Hotel...just 9 km from Balos Lagoon, and only 6 km from Kissamos town.

Also in Kaliviani village is the Gramvousa Taverna - relax after your swim and take in the feast of fresh air, views and local traditional food...try the Dakos salad and stuffed zucchini flowers, just something simple like the hand made fried chips will send you into raptures...

Of course, try the grilled octopus and the local prawns, don't turn your nose up at the moussaka here, it will be just like grandma used to make! One of the local Cretan dishes you could try here is snails Χοχλιοί and ask for a lesson in how to say them in Greek, now that is half the fun!

Grambousa Taverna, KalivianiGramvousa Taverna, Kaliviani

Video & Images...

Balos Lagoon below in video:

Balos Lagoon in summer (image by Pom Angers)Balos Lagoon in summer

Balos Lagoon aerial image, Crete Greece

Balos Lagoon, white sand turquoise waters, Crete

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