The Exotic Beach Of Crete
Elafonissi, in the South-West of Crete has become a very popular destination for day trippers who flood to this corner of paradise by car, bus or boat. Its main attraction to most tourists is the unique feeling of being in a South Seas lagoon whilst having a Mediterranean holiday.
Unfortunately the popularity of Elafonissi has removed another main factor in attraction: the wild beauty of a deserted place. In summer you will find sun beds tightly packed along the beach and hundreds of people enjoying the warm waters of the lagoon.
But it is still possible to get a taste of the wilderness: walk away from where the road ends, wade across the lagoon to the island (a protected nature reserve where no sun beds are allowed). Keep walking a little along the beach and look for a quiet cove. You may not be completely alone but you will have your peace.
Voted the 2nd beach in Europe… A place that you must visit!
About this activity
Enchanting tour for the whole family...
Explore the most beautiful beach in Crete. Elafonissi is self-guided. Swim in crystal-clear waters. Walk away from where the road ends, wade across the lagoon to the island (a protected nature reserve). Keep walking a little along the beach and look for a quiet cove. You may not be completely alone but you will have your peace.
It lies on the southwestern side of Crete and about 75 kilometers from the town of Chania, an island that is within walking distance from the mainland, sometimes without even getting one’s toes wet.
You can get to the Elafonissi island on foot because the waters are shallow, sometimes without even getting one’s toes wet, and therefore is ideal for families with small children. It is named by the word “Elafi”, which means deer in Greek because people years ago discovered that you can get easily to the islet on foot like a deer that walked to it.
The island, which note is not to be confused with its namesake Elafonissos in Peloponissus, is a Natura 2000 protected area. Moreover, Elafonissi is the only Greek appearance on a Tripadvisor list of the world’s 25 best beaches for 2014.
Quite right, blindingly white sand with pink hues, turquoise-white lagoon-like waters that ripple as they pick up the breeze, Elafonissi is an exotic place, a flat morsel of land with sporadic vegetation against the stark bareness of the Cretan mountains. If it weren’t for the car park on the mainland, the umbrellas, beach bar and sunbeds, one could mistake it for paradise. Luckily, the island itself is a protected zone, so there is none of that once you walk across the shallow water.
Most of the beach action occurs on the strip of sea between the mainland and the island, not, in general, a place for a quiet swim or for quality time with one’s significant other, but the water is shallow, warm, and therefore perfect for a family day trip and for kids honing their swimming skills.
Elafonissi is almost a mile long and there is surprisingly much to explore lengthwise, including a fair number of small coves (naturists love them), sandy beaches, and interesting rock formations towards the tip as the island stretches out into the sea and into the sunset.
But tread carefully: the island is home to 110 plant species as well as being a protected area for Androcymbium rechingeri, which is as rare as it sounds.
Don’t miss to visit, 5km north of Elafonissi, the Chrysoskalitisa monastery. This monastery has been built on a high rock, resembling a fortress. According to the legend, the last step of the staircase leading to the monastery is gold, but can only be seen by those who really believe in god.
Prepare for the activity
Meet your chauffeur/tour guide in the hotel lobby at the time of the appointment.
What to bring
- Sun hat
Smoking in the vehicle
Know before you go
- A full refund is available if you don’t enjoy this self-guided tour
- The tour is available in English and German