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 25.00 euros (22.00 Euros if you book it on line). Children up 2 years old travel free, children 3-12 years are half price 12.00 Euros.

Discounts : 

 It’s worth getting your ticket from website, as it will cost you 22 € (instead of 25 €) and 11 € (instead of 12 €) for your child aged between 3-12 years old.

 The following categories of persons are granted a discount of about 20%, showing the relevant ID upon ticket issue. In this case, a passenger aged between 3-12 years old pays 10 €, while from 13 years old and over pays 20 €. The following categories are entitled to this discount:  University students, people with disabilities, families with many children, sailors, active and retired soldiers, pensioners and people over 65.

Passengers who travelled from May to October 2013 with ANEK ships (Piraeus – Chania or Piraeus – Irakleio and vise versa), showing their ticket stub and ID have got a discount 20 %, in this case the persons from 13 years old and over pay 20 €, the children from 3-12 years old pay 10 € . 

Policemen, Harbour employees, active and retired Fire Fighters travel free of charge,  the members of their families (spouse, children) have got a 20% discount.

Special prices for groups of more than 10 persons.Lunch is not included in the price. The restaurant & bar of the ferry is open throughout the duration of the cruise, so you can eat and have refreshments.

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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