Of all the places I’ve been in the world, I have yet to find beaches that are as astonishing as those found in Western Crete. From Seitan Limania’s hidden cliffside cove to the Balos Lagoon’s mile-hike downhill, the adventures of reaching these beaches will invigorate you by providing some of the most breathtaking views the eyes have seen.
Seitan Limania Beach
Seitan Limania Beach is conveniently located near the Chania International Airport. A 15 minute drive to the north will bring you on the cascading cliffs of the Mediterranean Sea.
The excursion heading down to Seitan Limania is nothing short of unnerving. There are no guardrails and the road is constantly doing 180 degree turns, but the scenery is breathtaking.
When parking here, we got the hint from other cars and grabbed some rocks from the side of the road to put under the tires to ensure it stays put on the steep road.
Even though I had read about this beach online, I wasn’t aware of the actual descent that’s required to get down to it. I was unprepared shoes-wise and we weren’t planning on staying very long anyways so we just enjoyed the view from the top.
Elafonisi Beach, known as the “pink beach,” is one of the largest beaches in Crete. It has scores of sandy spots to plop down for that perfect day spent in the sun.
Even though Elafonisi Beach is roughly only 25 miles from Kissamos, the drive takes just over an hour. It is one of the most scenic drives I have been on. The roads are constantly twisting through mountains lush with greenery, randomized villages, wildlife and new views are presented in front of you around every turn.
When arriving at Elafonisi, a boardwalk leads through the snack bar area and then to the beach. The expansive space of sand, teal Sea waters and mountains cascading into the sky is truly a paradise masterpiece.
To the northwest is an entrance that leads to another part of the beach. This area is lined with rope to create a path over to the other portion of Elafonisi.
Elafonisi Beach is also called the “Pink Beach” because of the color of sand.
Back in this small peninsula, the pristine teal waters complemented by the rosy underbelly is such a beautiful sight.
This area is narrow and more crowded when the beach fills up so we walked back towards the main, bigger part of Elafonisi to claim a spot in the sand for the day. We arrived to the beach about 9 a.m., which allowed us ample choices of shoreline spots to pick from. We rented chairs for the day at 3 Euros a piece and were about a 5 minute walk from the concessions.
While the beach itself and the shoreline is sandy, there are a slew of larger rocks in the water, which makes for some great snorkeling.
My favorite beach that we went to, not only in Crete but in the entire world, was the Balos Lagoon.
Situated at the most northwestern tip of Crete at the end of the Gramvousa peninsula, the drive from Kissamos to Balos is only a little less than 10 miles but takes about 45 minutes in a car. The road is pretty rough since it’s not paved but it provides some of the most stunning seaside views, especially with the morning sun rising from the east and the goats resting on the road.
It costs 1 Euro per car to park at Balos and getting to the Lagoon entails a hike down (and of course, back up) the mountain. In the Cretan summer heat of 100 degrees, this can be very tiring so I suggest wearing the right shoes and bringing along some water.
There is a path leading from the parking lot heading between the mountains to get to the Lagoon.
After exiting out from between the mountains, you can see a breathtaking view.
This is where the trek down begins to look very intimidating. We thought about turning around because we didn’t think we were that prepared but I’m so glad we didn’t…. and you can see why!
Greeted by the transparent sea with pink sand, and in more quantities than at Elafonisi, the Balos Lagoon is a true wonder of the world and the most beautiful beach I have ever had the privilege of visiting.
If you’re visiting Balos, make the hike earlier in the morning than later to get better choices for beach spots. When the ferries show up, the beach becomes overly packed. I would suggest making the drive to Balos independently if you’re able to. Once a ferry leaves along with over half of the beach, you almost feel like you have the beach to yourself.
The AirBnb that we stayed at in Kissamos was directly across from Telonio Beach. The beach has some rocks, but is predominantly sandy. I adored the mountainous scenery that can be seen on both sides of the bay.
When going out into the water, the bottom near the shore is somewhat rocky but a short wade out a sandy bottom to the sea can be found. The refreshing waters are also somewhat warmer since they’re within a bay.
Telonio Beach also has some astonishing sunsets!
The beaches that are found on the western portion of Crete should be on every traveler’s beach bucket list. While some may require more work to reach, the incredible natural scenery on cliffs overlooking the invigorating sea waters will have you searching for more.