Today Spiros and I kayaked along the North-West coast of Crete, for my real first kayak outing this summer.
After checking the forecast, we saw that Wednesday would be a good day to go, with 0-2 Beaufort winds.
We rented a basic double sit-on-top kayak in Kissamos and set off earlyish in the morning from a very quiet Falasarna beach.
The air was still as expected, but the wave height was bigger than forecast! It didn’t deter us though, we decided beforehand to not press ourselves and just turn back in case the going got too tough.
As it happened, the going got smoother over the course of the day. Wave height fell as we got closer to Balos, and even more significantly on our way back. The wind only picked up briefly just as we were approaching Balos, to die down again in less than an hour as we had our lunch break on the beach.
The cliffs were spectacular, and they didn’t feel as daunting as in my previous solo expeditions along this route. Company makes it easier to keep the mind off thoughts of impending doom! I was also less tired than the previous times that I paddled on this bit of coastline. Another positive, setting off after 8am meant that the ominous shadows cast by the high cliffs were gone soon after the start. We only had time to enjoy some shady respite in the very first part of the day.
We enjoyed the paddling. First we rode some waves and kept some distance from the cliffs. We admired the colours and the formation on the rocks. We jumped in the water in turns for some snorkelling, but for the first half we didn’t really approach waters shallow enough to see much with the mask.
We got to the South side of Balos in about two and a half hours, and it felt pretty easy. We knew there was no easy landing on this side, only rocks. We scanned the coastline for a good place to have a break. We found some narrow passages between the very shallow rocks, and parked the kayak in a sheltered pool.
After eating our pic-nic, we had a quick walk around busy Balos lagoon. It was hot and it looked crowded in the distance. The midday wind was carrying towards us the familiar whiffs of the beach cocktail: sun lotion, sea salt and sweat. A Frenchman started a conversation about the kayak, how far we’d come from and good places to snorkel. Spiros picked some sea salt from the rock pool.
We restarted and the way back was even better. With lower waves, we could take in the myriad shades of blue in the sea and get closer to the rocky cliffs.
Just off Balos, we saw some promising shallow areas and jumped in for a snorkel. Beautiful underwater rock formations, that we could stand on and went down to deep dark in the space of a few strokes. A lot of sea life swimming around the rocks: Saddled sea breams, damselfish, parrot fish, rainbow wrasses, small blue and silver fish.
We paddled and paddled. We warmed up and jumped in the water a few more times. We both went in at the same time, many times, taking turns to keep an eye on and hold the kayak. We swam in the bay just North of Falasarna, and again around the shipwreck. A last swim by the submerged rock off the beach. Big sea breams dancing around, more saddled sea breams.
Home beckoned. We landed in the small rock pool, dreaming of future expeditions.
Average speed: 3.98 km/h
Total time: 07:15:52
A video taken by Spiros as we were snorkelling underwater just off Balos: