Elafonissi is an island on Crete's western tip and is best known for its beautiful sandy beaches. Apart from swimming holidays in Crete, the area attracts visitors with its unspoilt landscape and spectacular sunsets.
The north-west coast of Elafonissi in the west of Crete is completely rugged, but in the south-east small sea basins in the dark rock attract visitors with wonderful sandy beaches. The famous beach opposite Elafonissi, together with the dreamlike lagoon of Balos, is considered the most beautiful beach of Crete and attracts thousands of bathing holidaymakers in summer. Both beaches are among our top 10 sights of Cre te and our top 10 most beautiful beaches of Crete.
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Pictures: Elafonissi beach
Photo gallery: Elafonissi beach in Crete
At the highest point of the island are a lighthouse and the Koundourakis Chapel, which can be reached via a trail. Two memorial plaques commemorate a massacre on Easter Sunday in April 1824, when Turkish troops murdered hundreds of Greeks, and a shipwreck in February 1907, when 38 passengers of the Imperatrix capsized with their lifeboat and died (the passenger steamer, by the way, still lies on the seabed off Elafonissi).
Crete's coast under nature protection
The flat sand dunes on Elafonissi are protected and may not be entered. The snow-white dune daffodil and juniper bushes thrive here and the loggerhead turtle "Caretta caretta" comes to the sandy shores to lay its eggs. When the weather is calm and there is no wind, you can get from Crete to Elafonissi on dry feet, and the sea here hardly gets deeper than a metre.
Directions to Elafonissi beach
The road to the beach of Elafonissi leads through the secluded green village of Elos (15 kilometres from Elafonissi) and past the Topolia Gorge, which is well worth seeing. From the mountain road, the view falls on the island of Elafonissi and the idyllic beach in the west of Crete.
The small island of Elafonissi is located in the very west of Crete and is often described as "far away from everything". The "deer island" is almost 80 kilometres from Chania. Only one road leads from the main road from Kissamos to Elafonissi. The turn-off is at Kefali in the direction of Vathi and leads past the picturesquely situated monastery of Chrysoskalitissa directly to the unpaved car park on the beach.
Caribbean on Crete
Of all the sandy beaches of Elafonissi, the most famous is the one that is not on Elafonissi at all, but opposite the island on Crete. Here you inevitably get that Caribbean feeling. The waves of the turquoise sea rush over the fine sand, coloured pink by shells, and you can walk hundreds of metres into the sea.
Tip: Even more Cretan Caribbean can be found on the palm beach of Vai. Here, the crystal-clear sea on the white beach is even joined by date palms!
Bathing on the beach at Elafonissi
The sea water in the beautiful lagoon is only about one metre deep, making Elafonissi beach an ideal family destination for swimming holidays in Crete. To the east of the beach, beach loungers, umbrellas, snack bars, changing rooms and sanitary facilities offer the best comfort for a beach day in Crete. The shallow sea and calm waves invite even the smallest ones to splash around in a relaxed way.
The other smaller beaches along the rugged coast of Elafonissi offer no infrastructure, but absolute solitude and hidden coves for naturists.
Elafonissi Tip: Mornings are the least busy!
The beauty of Elafonissi is praised in every travel guide, so the later the day, the more crowded the beach. Excursion boats from Paleochora, coaches and rental cars bring thousands of tourists to Crete's most beautiful beach during the summer months. If you want to be reasonably undisturbed, you should visit Elafonissi early in the morning, because the sunset at Elafonissi is also a much-visited sight on Crete.