Holiday visitors to one of Crete's most spectacular beaches are to be asked to pay to see it. Officials in Kasteli Kissamos, in north-west Crete, have voted unanimously to impose a one euro entry fee for those who want to reach the lagoon of Balos, near the striking island of Gramvousa. According to municipal officials, the money will be used to cover the cost of annual beach cleaning and maintenance expenses for the beach area.
Well off the beaten track, the islet at Gramvousa and the large sandy beach at Balos are still a favourite for visitors who can arrive overland by car or can take a sightseeing trip on boats from the harbour at Kastelli Kissamos.
The area is noted for its spectacular sand bars and shallow waters which stretch out to Gramvousa islet from Balos. On the island is the ruin of a large Venetian fortress, built in 1582 but destroyed six years later when lightning set off a gunpowder store. It was rebuilt in 1630.
Visitors approaching the area by car will pay the entry fee at the end of the road where a toll post barrier will be placed. Those visiting Balos from the sea, who will pay the one euro fee when they board boats at the port of Kissamos
The sheer beauty of Balos attracts visitors in some numbers and it is possible to walk out to the island across the shallow sandbanks on quiet days, although this should never be attempted when the wind is up, as the currents can be tricky.
The white sand gives the shallow sea an emerald sheen that is unique to the Balos beach area.