A Boat, a Fortress, & a Beach

It was a main goal of MyMan to get to one of Crete’s famous beaches before we left.  Normally during high season, there are all sorts of excursions and bus tours that can take you to one of these beaches at the drop of a hat.  The closest famous one was a good hour away by car…and after having been on these roads, neither one of us wanted to drive!!

The other issue was we were there at an interesting time….just before the summer season started.  So all of the bus tours and excursions we were looking for didn’t start until the following week on May 1st.  So, during the week as we walked the Old Town Harbor frequently, we happened across the answer!  We could rent a private boat to take us where we wanted to go!

So MyMan called to inquire and made the necessary arrangements.  We would be going to Balos Beach on our last day in Crete.  A perfect way to end a fabulous trip!  And lucky for us, the weather was perfect for boating and beaching.

The tour started at 9am and would be all day.  We made sure to show up at 9 am sharp…totally excited about what the day would bring!

We were met by 3 young men who would be our guides for the day.  Actually one of them was brand new to the team, and it was his first tour as well.  He did such an amazing job, that we didn’t realize it was his first day until late in the day!

We set off and right away everyone settled in for the boat ride to Balos.  It was going to take us an hour to get there, doing about 35 knots (~40mph) the whole way!  There were smiles all around.

The weather was warm, the skies were blue, and the water was calm.  It was a great day to be boating.  There were some nice cliffs that had natural gorges built into them.  Back in the day, ships would hide in these gorges and attack invaders.

Along the way, the guides asked us if we wanted to visit a really old Venetian ruin before heading to Balos beach, so of course we couldn’t pass up an opportunity!  The color of the water of the water here is truly unbelievable!  It is actually a turquoise color.  The pictures you see in brochures, and in tv….aren’t deceiving for once!  And I know that my camera does NOT capture the beauty of this place, but I tried my best to at least get the essence of it.

This was an island positioned in front of Balos beach.  It used to have a Venetian castle at the top.  In the prime of its day, it started with a tiny community of 17 people.  But in time, the population grew to be 3,000 people!  There was a wall that surrounded the city and castle.  All that stands today is the church and some other religious relics.

Crete has over 5,000 churches.  They consider each of these small shrines to be a church.

There were a couple of small buildings where a keeper stays to keep an eye on everything.  The dark thing in the water on the left side of the cove is a sunken ship that has been there since WWII.

The trek up this mountain was steep! But we made it!

The entrance into the ruins of the fortress is still pretty much intact.  The lion’s head was a symbol of the Venetian empire.

Once inside this old fortress, it’s really hard to imagine a population of 3,000 people living here!

There was a wall that surrounded the fortress at one time.  But there was one area that didn’t need a wall as  it was just a sheer cliff straight down to the water!

And the views up there were breathtaking!  You can see a boat in the water heading towards Balos beach.

There were only a few structures still standing.

After spending some time exploring the fortress ruins, we hiked back down to the boat and made our way over to the beautiful Balos beach.

The water was just the prettiest blue!

Because we were there right before tourist season started, there was hardly anyone else there!   Our guides told us that usually during the high season, there are thousands of people who come here, and it’s a popular beach excursion on cruise ships. SO glad we were able to see it without tons of people around.  The girls had fun just running through the shallow water.

While we were able to have the fortunate opportunity of getting to the beach by private boat, everyone else came from the other side of the island, where they had to walk down (and back up!) a really LONG Boardwalk!  If you look closely you can see the board walk, and if you look even closer…you can see people on it to give you a scale of the size of the boardwalk.

We enjoyed the beach and the water (even though it was chilly!).  Then it was time to head back to the boat.  Our guides took us to one last stop of the day where we could snorkel.  It was a little cove that was at the base of a gorge.

MyMan and the girls went into the water, but I wanted to stay on the boat.  The water was really too cold to go snorkeling without wetsuits, and they didn’t have suits small enough for the girls.  Oldest braved the water and went out snorkeling until she got too cold, then she joined Littlest on the beach.

Littlest swam over to the shore and played with the rocks and stones, and watched the wild goats that were here and there.

MyMan and the guides brought back some sea urchins.  They asked us if we had ever eaten fresh urchin eggs before.  We hadn’t, but we got the opportunity!  They were pretty good!  A lot like caviar.

It was time to head back to Chania.  We had the best day and saw some amazing sites, and tried new things!  It was about 6:30pm when we got back to the dock.  The guys were the best, and so friendly and knowledgable.  I would definitely recommend them and their tours to anyone.

Until next time!


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