Visiting the Beautiful Elafonisi

by / Juhani

Updated 18.03.2014

   Elafonisi beach area is large, shallow and well protected from
waves with the finest sand. Large sandy fields around the lagoon,
shallow waters and gently sloping beaches make it an excellent
destination and site for playing in the water for families with
children of all ages.

   The beaches are managed by the local commune in an orderly
and tourist friendly fashion, and the revenues from beach chairs and corner stores profit mainly the maintenance of the area. During high winds flying sand may be annoying for swimmers and sun bathers, but for the wind surfers windy conditions make Elafonisi a good site for their sport.

Changing Landscape

   The shore at Elafonisi beach changes every winter as the winter storms beat the huge sandy areas. In the picture below you can see the beach in 2008 and in the picture below the same beach in 2010. In both cases it was possible to ford across the lagoon to the opposite sandy island. Every year the beach looks different.

Beach in 2008

Beach in 2010


Elafonisi temperatures during May and September, and here you can check out the surface temperatures both in water and in
sand at the end of May 2008 and september 2008.

Temperatures in may 2008

Temperatures in september 2008

Getting There

   Local and International travel agencies organize bus trips to Elafonisi. A good choice is car rental, which makes it possible to stay longer at the beach. From the eastern harbour at Paleochora you can catch a boat to Elafonisi, but only if the weather permits.
   Elafonisi is no more than a two-hour drive from Chania. There are two optional routes, one inland and the other is the coastal route. Both are worth the drive, and on the linked map both routes are marked with blue and green arrows. The blue route includes the tightest road tunnel in Crete and the beautiful Agia Sofia cave just north of the tunnel. The green route has rugged slopes and hills with beautiful scenery, and a good view of the western coast. The cape of Elafonisi is visible early from the coastal route. On the Elafonisi -videopage you can see many videos about driving different routes.

If you want to see beautiful landscapes on the road to Elafonisi, choose the western green road
(see  part of this route in video). If you dislike a well-surfaced and well-kept road which takes you high up the hills and mountain slopes, choose the good and paved eastern blue route (see  part of this route and Topolia tunnel in our video). The meeting point of the two routes, Kefali Village, is worth a stop, as the view from its taverns down to the Elafonisi Valley is breathtaking

   The direct and shortest route from Paleochora and
Elafonisi is
quite rough and a difficult road to negotiate and not worth
the trouble.
This route demands fair driving skills especially after
hard rain, and
it is recommended you take the route via Elos to

A view to Elafonisi from western road

Elafonisi from southeast

Getting from and to can be done on water as well, there are two passenger boats operating between Paleochora and Elafonisi

Timing the Visit

Most visitors come to the beach for a day-trip with a rental car, and the rest on a dozen buses. With the two-hour drive time from Crete’s western resort villages the beach begins to feel crowded around 10 am and the traffic begins to slow down on the descending roads. It is not unfamiliar to feel like the day is too short as it is already time to get ready for the return trip.

   As you easily get the urge to stay longer, there is in fact accommodation along the road about 500 meters from the beach and more is being built along the roadside. If you want to get the most of the beach while experiencing the beautiful sunrise and sunset, staying overnight is a good option, not to mention the culinary advantages, as during the day-trip you are limited to a beach side kiosk with basic groceries or a short drive up the hillside taverns which shortens the day at the beach considerably.

Sand at the Beach Isn’t Always Sand

   The sand at the beaches isn’t just sand but masses of empty seashells, which explains the pink and red color of the beach. It might seem at first like sand, but a close look at a handful taken from the shore reveals the diversity of the seashells embedded in the sand. Just like from other reserved areas, taking seashells as a souvenir from Elafonisi is prohibited, as the Elafonisi area is a protected area by law. Needless to say, the conservation of nature is been taken seriously here. Fenced
plantations and the prohibition of picking and collecting plants uphold
the unique flora and fauna of Elafonisi.

Masses of empty seashells

The ruins of a lighthouse structure blown up by the Germans during WWII are at the western point of the Cape of Elafonisi

The sunsets in Elafonisi are often extremely beautiful. Under the setting sun are situated Malta and southern point of Italy


can stay overnight at the small up-hill hotel or its courtyard
A good place for singles, couples and especially families is Kalomirakis which is presented here.

Additional information:

Bus timetables and prices to Elafonisi. map of the area

Google map of Elafonisi nature path

Coordinates for Elafonisi: 35°16’21.84″N

Have you visited the beautiful beach? Share your experience with us in the comments!