Another year, another Greek Island!
(Balos Island, Crete)
After our adventurous, action packed trip to Sri Lanka in April 2017 (yet to be blogged), we decided to have a chilled beach holiday before the dull Irish winter hit us, and let’s be honest, it was always going to be a Greek Island. You know me! Obsessed!
Crete, the largest of the Greek Islands, known for its pristine white beaches, the largest gorge in Europe, historic sites, delicious food and so much more.
Ryanair fly directly from Dublin to Chania, so we booked our flights and over the coming weeks we scanned bookings.com for some deals on accommodation and planned out a route to see as much as we possibly could in seven days.
To be honest, the thoughts of Hersonissos made me anxious, I hate those party resorts, it’s just not my thing. It never was actually, its not that i’m old now or anything! I’ve just always preferred a chilled, small town with character kinda vibe which we found after we landed in Chania and drove east (at an ungodly hour in the middle of the night) to Agios Nickolas. There we spent the first four days of our holiday exploring the quaint town and it’s surrounding beaches.
Agios Nickolas is a bustling town with lots of restaurants and bars and thankfully no strip with clubs so it was ideal for us.
We had a heavenly sea view from our hotel room. Our accommodation was a five minute walk to the centre and a few minutes walk to a small beach so in essence, if you wanted to stay there for your seven nights and not rent a car, you would have everything you need.. but you know me, I love to explore!
So off we went……
Vai Beach, The only natural palm tree beach in Europe was top on our list and the reason we chose to stay on this side of the island for the first four days to be honest.
The story behind the palm trees is that Arab pirates came in their ships, ate the dates they had brought with them and threw the stones on the ground. From these dates grew about 6,000 palm trees, of which 4,500 are still growing today.
To be honest, its not breathtaking and it takes about two hours to drive there from Agios Nickolas. There is a large sandy beach with loungers and parasols and restaurants but it didn’t have the crystal clear water that I love. We did stay the day and enjoyed a few mythos in the sun.
Along the way down to Vai, we saw loads of sheltered coves with the crystal clear water so we had to check them out.
The countryside was lush at times and changed with every bend in the road. The Island had a lot to offer.
Time went to fast and before we knew it, It was time to make our way to Chania where we would spend our final few days.
When we arrived at Chania old town, we parked our jeep outside the walled town and made our way to our accommodation by foot. Walking through the narrow streets was captivating. I love looking in the open doors of people’s one bedroom houses.
Once we had checked in, it was clear to see that we had made a mistake. We should have spent the whole seven days in Chania. It was beautiful there. The streets were busy at night but the good kind of busy, the place was alive. Navigating your way around the narrow, winding streets and deciding on a place to eat became our evening ritual.
Waking up in our amazing suite and heading straight to the rooftop for our breakfast with the breath taking views of the old Venetian harbour below was enough to get you out of the comfortable bed without hesitation.
From Chania, you can easily drive to Elafonisi, Balos and Lake Kournas.
Elafonisi beach is beautiful but crowded, still, I defiantly recommend going there.
Apparently the pink sand is disappearing because tourists keep taking jam jars of it, you can barely see it at the waters edge but it is truly beautiful when the light hits the right spot and the pink sand becomes visible.
So if you go there, don’t be a dick!! Take only pictures…. (hehe)
Seeing as we were close, we decided to check out Lake Kournas, the only fresh water lake in Crete. The drive there was lovely, the lake is in a beautiful valley resting among the hills. We sat and had lunch and watched the slow moving pedalos. A very relaxing, quiet place.
Balos, the finale of our trip. We defiantly saved the best for last.
We set off for Balos and arrived around mid day, cautiously, we tackled the long dirt track all the way down as far as we could.
I would advise renting a 4×4 when travelling to Balos as the area its self is protected so the road is….well, its not really a road, its more a dirt track and quite bumpy so rental cars can get damaged easily.
Just look at that view though, if you go to Balos by boat you will miss this view, unless you are willing to hike, yes, I said hike, up to see it. Make sure you pack enough supplies, especially a beach umbrella. The decent from the top to the beach is not long but when you stop to take in the view you can be awhile so make sure that you already have your sun cream on.
Being in Balos was just magical. The closest thing you can get to the pristine blue shallow waters of the Maldives for so, so much less money.
As it happens, Holiday guru has a deal for Crete at the moment. Check it out below:
I would 100% go back there as there was so much we didn’t get to do, the sameria gorge is defiantly still on my list. We traveled in September and the temperatures were a nice toasty 29-degrees.
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