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You may have heard of Bali in Indonesia, but this Bali is the equally heavenly village on the north coast of Crete. The name 'Bali' means honey in Turkish; a perfect name for a village known for its production of delicious honey. Perched on cliffs on the popular northern coast of Crete, this picturesque village is a gorgeous place to go if you want crystal clear waters, sunny beaches and a warm friendly welcome.
The white washed flower strewn houses are the first thing you will notice about the village. There are only 350 permanent residents, but this obviously swells with the influx of visitors. Nestled at the foot of the craggy hills lies a lively harbour and a superb sand and pebble beach; with more enticing beaches found in the little coves along the coastline. One of the coves, known locally as Paradise Beach, is a favourite for swimming. The bays are well protected against the waves providing safe bathing. With its cosmopolitan feel Bali is particularly popular with young couples and families.
Accommodation is mainly small hotels and apartments. You can try out many watersports in Bali as sailing, canoeing, parasailing and diving are such a pleasure in this sunny paradise. During the warm summer months, when temperatures range from 25-38 degrees Celsius, the beaches can become busy but there are so many little nooks and crannies on this rocky coastline you will always find somewhere to chill out.
Getting to Bali is relatively simple. Heraklion (30 miles west) and Rethymnon (20 miles east) both have ports and Heraklion has an international airport. Flight times from the UK are about four hours. The airport is well served by taxi and car hire companies – which are sensibly priced. There is also a cheap and efficient bus service, which provides modern air-conditioned travel. Crete has a good road network with a main national road running from Heraklion to Bali, however, the bus services do not go into the village itself and you could face a 2km walk to the main part of the village. However, if you time it right you could catch a ride on the tour-bus/train that runs down the hill from the main road down to the harbour. There are designated stops, but the driver will stop anywhere if you flag him down. The village is at the end of a dead end so there is no through traffic, making it quieter than it might otherwise be.
Be aware that Bali is not very accessible for mobility disabled travellers; there are few lifts in hotels and the streets can be very steep. Indeed for all travellers the streets can be filled with obstacles (such as trade stands, chairs and tables) and local drivers can drive aggressively despite the narrow roadways.
Bali has stacks of things to do and places to visit nearby. The history of this fascinating part of the world goes back centuries - everywhere you go are reminders of its chequered life. You could visit the mountain village of Margarites with its Melidoni Cave and its delightful traditional pottery. The cave famously became a hiding place for all 300 inhabitants of Melidoni in 1824, whilst trying to escape the Turkish army. Today it's a great place to grab a torch to explore, with fantastic examples of stalactites.
Alternatively cruises are available to the idyllic islands of Santorini and Gramvousa where you can enjoy a peaceful and relaxing day. The sea crossing may well reveal dolphins and marine turtles in the sparkling blue waters. Gramvousa was known as the Pirate Island and its fortifications certainly bear testimony to its previous battles. About 5km south of Bali is situated the 17th Century Monastery of Agios (Saint) Ioannis. It's well known for its tranquil courtyard gardens and pleasing frescoes. On your travels you will be greeted by the most awe-inspiring views of this delightful coastline. The blue of the sky mingles with the dark blue of the sea in perfect harmony.
The seafood is delicious and sea fishing for your own catch is possible if you hire one of the brightly coloured boats in Bali's harbour. Often the daily catch winds its way into the local tavernas for you to enjoy. Nightlife is limited to a couple of nightclubs and bars. There is also a wide ranging choice of restaurants and tavernas to enjoy the hospitality into the night. Thankfully Bali hasn't modernised too much and the village still captures the essence of its traditional charm and warm cordiality. With its slow pace of life, this enchanting village is the perfect way to wind down and escape the rush of your everyday world.