Boat Trips: Gramvousa & Balos

Boat trips from Kissamos to Gramvousa (Gramvoussa) and Balos beach & lagoon.

From May to October, you can take daily cruises from Kissamos port (42 km west of Chania), leaving in the morning and returning in the evening.

From mid-June and until mid-September, there are also midday departures.

Why you would want to visit?
For the spectacular beaches and fascinating geological aspects, the flora (especially in the spring), the archaeology (Venetian castle) - and of course the fun of a boat trip!

About Gramvousa & Balos
History: Gramvousa (also called Tigani peninsula). The castle on top of the island was built by the Venetians to protect Crete from a Turkish occupation. It was one of the last unconquered bastions and it was the first area of Crete to be liberated from the Turks in 1825 (Turks were expelled from all the rest of Crete only by 1898). 3000 Cretan rebels were planning operations from Gramvousa.

During this period of turmoil, the residents of the island started looting boats passing through, which gained the island its pirate reputation.

Flora: The Gramvousa/Balos region is a protected biotope. There are 400 different plants on Gramvousa, 26 of them endemic to Crete. The Anthemis glaberrima (a type of daisy), the Allium platakisi (a wild onion) and the Silene litegripetala are found only in this area and are protected species.

In the shallow parts of the sea, the Mediterranean plant Posidonia oceanica thrives, providing shelter for marine life.

Fauna: 98 bird species have been reported in the area. 20 of them are protected and 14 of them are threatened species (like the vulture Europe Gypaetusbarbatus). The Mediterranean seal (Monachus Monachus) and the Caretta Caretta turtle find shelter in this area. Also, a flock of wild donkeys lives on the peninsula!

Balos bay and lagoon: Clear waters and desert-isle sand, an exceptional place in a wind-protected area of the sea.

Boat Trip Timeline

What Happens Time
Departure from Kissamos port
(Porto Gramvousa ferry leaves at 10:00, Gramvousa Express ferry leaves at 10.15)
10.00 & 10.15
Travelling across Kissamos bay. Passing the cave that served as an ancient shipyard. 
On the way, you can see the signs of the geological phenomenon of land elevation
(Crete has been rising out of the sea on the western side and sinking on the eastern side for more than 2000 years).
Sailing around Agria (wild) Gramvousa and Vouxa cape.
Arrival at Gramvousa island 11.15
Time to walk up to the Venetian castle (137 metres above sea level) and for swimming. 11.15-13.30
Departure for Balos 13.30
Arrival at Balos 13.45
Time for swimming in the shallow & warm lagoon waters. 13.45-16.45
Departure for Kissamos (the triumphant return!) 16.45
Arrival at Kissamos port 17.45-18.00

From 15 June to 15 September, the Balos Express ferry also sails, starting at 12.15 and returning at 19.30.

Information & tickets
Ferry Company: Gramvousa Balos Cruises
Kissamos port offices - Tel: +30 28220-24344, 83311  
Tickets (adults) cost 27.00 euros. Children up 2 years old travel free, children 3-12 years are half price 13.50 Euros.

For more information, visit the cruise operator's website at

It is a popular trip, so getting a ticket in advance if possible is a good idea.

Acknowledgments: We thank Gramvousa Balos Cruises for information used in this feature and our friend Eleni Foka for the photographs.

Disclaimer: We try to keep this information up to date for your convenience, but you should always call the boat cruise company to check sailing times

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