- By Super User
Elafonisi is a magical place that consists of a small islet full of white and pink sandy beaches, which is very close to the main busy (during Summer) beach.
It lies in the southwestern side of Crete and about 75 kilometers from the town of Chania, 40Km from Alia Stone Villa, an island that is within walking distance from the mainland, sometimes without even getting one’s toes wet.
You can get there by daily bus service from Chania city or by car or even by boat.
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 sun beds, 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 of 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.