Seitan Limania, Samaria Gorge, Balos – Crete, Greece
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. It bounds the southern border of the Aegean Sea. Crete rests approximately 160 km south of the Greek mainland.
In a hidden corner on the north-eastern side of Crete’s Akrotiri Peninsula, just a short drive from Chania, this secret cove is well worth the hair-raisingly steep and winding downhill drive to get here. there is no well-maintained path from top to bottom, you have to crawl through the rocks, well crawling down is totally worth, its a picturesque place.
Save your food and belongings from the mountain goats, which constantly roam the are in search of easy food from the tourists and if your belongings are out in the open while you are enjoying a nice swim, they are not shy at all to go through your stuff for food without your permission.
Tip: Sooner you reach better it is, as the beach is very small and it gets busy during the day.
Samaria Gorge, in southwestern Crete, is one of Europe’s longest canyons.
The hike begins at the trailhead and park entrance booth beside Xyloskalo restaurant. It cuts through the rugged White Mountains of Crete, running 10 miles in length and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in the coastal village of Agia Roumeli.
The park is supervised by the Department of Forestry and You need to pay an entrance fee of 5 Euro (free to children under 15). Keep your entrance ticket to display as you exit the park. The wardens tally them to ensure that everyone has exited safely before nightfall.
Your arrival at the end is announced by a café serving fresh orange juice, chilled beers, and ice-cream. Anyone feeling exhausted can catch a minibus to the ferry dock from here.
The walk through the National Park of Samaria is 13 km but you will have to walk the extra 3 km to Agia Roumeli from the exit of the National Park making it a total of 16 km.
Relax a bit on the black-sand beach and soothe your weary feet in the warm and crystal-clear waters—this is one of the best places to do so in Greece. There’s a free shower, tavernas serving food and beer, plus a few simple places to stay. The ferries, which operate three to six times daily depending on the season, typically stop at Loutro, a fishing village tucked in a cove with tavernas and hotels.
The end of the hike is at the coastal village of Agia Roumeli. No road connects here. The only way out is by hiking or, more practically speaking, by ferry to the south coast port of Chora Sfakia (one-hour), where buses will meet you for the hour-and-a-half return to Chania and some other other parts.
Backed by scrubby hills, the beach and its lagoon is not easy to reach, but that doesn’t put off the regulars who brave the precarious and rocky dirt-road drive to get here, Balos is surely the mostly photographed beach in Crete, a very favourite subject of all tourist guides for Greece.
The lagoon of Balos has white sand and exotic white, vivid blue and turquoise waters. The sea is very shallow and warm, ideal for young children.
In many places the sand has a lovely pinkish colour, because of millions of crushed shells. Beyond the rocks at the boundaries of the lagoon, the water is deeper and colder, ideal for a snorkelling.
Pack yourself a picnic as there’s nowhere to buy food or drink here.
Fun fact: Also, if you stand still for some time in these shallow waters, you can enjoy a small fish pedicure for free.
How to reach:
The most convenient way to reach Crete is by air, it has its own airport but if you are on another Greek island then you can come by sea.