Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece is actually an island, separated from the southwest coast of Crete, by a shallow, warm lagoon and a sandbar that is submerged under about one meter of water at most during high tide. The beach on the mainland and on the part of the sandbar that is never submerged is populated by hundreds of beach chairs and umbrellas and thousands of tourists in the high season. But you can wade out to the island and enter another world. It is an internationally classified nature reserve. Beach chairs and umbrellas are not permitted, and there is no shade, so fewer people make their way to it. Even in the busiest season, it is possible to find quiet little coves and pockets of sandy beach occasionally popular with nude bathers.
The island is a mile long, ending in a rocky outcrop and weird, freestanding towers of rock formed by wind and water. It's home to more than 100 rare plants including summer flowering sea daffodils, white cups resembling normal daffodils in shape, surrounded by spiky white petals. Even rarer, the winter-flowering bulb Androcymbium rechingeri is found no where else in the world. To protect it's rare plants, specific walks are laid out on the island, and removing any plants or animals from the island is forbidden an punishable with big fines.
The Beach Itself
The island is a nature lover's paradise but there must be something about the mainland beach itself that draws so many visitors to itself every year. There are four reasons, actually:
- Pink sand: The sand here, most of the time, is composed of the remains of tiny pink shells the line the sea floor. When Elafonisi is pink, it is very pink, especially around the lagoon and along the sandbar to the island. But not everyone will find the beach pink when they arrive. Wind and the motion of tides, plus the season and the microbes these tiny shelled creatures eat influence how or even if the sands will be pink when you arrive.
- Sand as soft as dust: In a part of the world where shingle or pebble beaches are the norm, Elafonisi stands out for its soft, powdery sand.
- Warm, shallow waters: The water to the right of the sandbar is calm, shallow and ideal for children, making this part of Elafonisi popular with families.
- Windsurfers heaven: The prevailing winds blow pretty steadily making this a great beach for windsurfing. Windsurfers populate the waters to the left of the sandbar, away from all the families and toddlers splashing in the shallows.
Elafonisi Beach Weather (When to Visit)
It's a beautiful beach, but it's often crowded. The beach is exposed to strong winds in the spring, so if you go early — April and May — the wind blown sand can be unpleasant. During the height of the summer season, the beach is crowded until the day trippers and coach tours leave. The ideal time is the early autumn. In September and October both the weather and the waters of the lagoon are likely to be gentle and warm. Exploring the nature reserve on the island is still possible in November, but you may have to wade through cold, knee deep water to get there.
Elafonisi Beach Area Beaches
Elafonisi is a small paradise on Earth. Located approximately 43 miles from Chania. Elafonisi is a Natura 2000 Protection Program listed area with natural beauty, shallow crystal clear waters and fine sand beaches. In some places, the sand looks pink, taking the unusual color from the thousands of crushed shells. Elafonisi is a stunning place where you can spend the day sunbathing or exploring the hidden coves.
One of the best beaches in Chania is Kedrodasos Beach, which is quite untouched and unexplored. Many travelers use the area around the beach as a free camping spot. It is actually a cedar forest next to the beach. It is a favorite beach for naturists.
Glyka Nera Beach
Glyka Nera (meaning “sweet water”) is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, with deep blue water color and nice pebbles. There is a small tavern on a rock that sells food, cold beverages and beds. You don't need to have water with you, since the water from spring is potable. There are several tamarisk trees on the beach to provide shade.
Krios is a lovely beach situated very close to the center of Parikia. It is a long sandy beach with crystalline waters that are surrounded by a bay and are well protected from strong summer winds. The beach is well-organized with umbrellas and sundecks and has small taverns that serve food and drinks. Krios has a great view of the town of Parikia and the surrounding landscape.
Balos is a fantastic location on the northwestern side of Crete, in the region of Chania. This amazing place is like the Caribbean side of Crete. With exotic waters, soft white sand and a huge island with a Venetian Castle on top, the beach of Balos amazes all visitors at first sight. It can be reached by car through a track road from Kissamos or by excursion boat from Chania Town and Kissamos.
Elafonisi Beach Tours & Activities
Elafonisi Beach Trip from Rethymno
Relax on the paradise-like island of Elafonisi on this family-friendly day trip. Admire western Crete’s hills and traditional villages on a drive to the southwest coast, and stop for coffee at the Cave of Agia Sofia. Then, spend the afternoon on the idyllic protected islet of Elafonisi, enjoying its pink sands and clear seas. Includes round-trip transport plus select hotel pickup and drop-off. Learn more about the Elafonisi Beach Trip From Rethymno.
Elafonisi Small Group Tour
A full-day trip to Elafonissi island in the southwest of Crete. You will travel on an air-conditioned mini bus, with a stop off at the beautiful Aghia Sophia Cave on the way. Learn more about the Elafonisi Small Group Tour.
Elafonisi Beach Idyllic Escape Customized – VIP Private Tour from Elounda
Experience the idyllic escape to Elafonisi beaches with pink sands and crystal clear Libyan sea waters like a true VIP. A full-day chauffeur-driven private tour with ultimate convenience and comfort. Enjoy a personal hotel, villa or cruise pick up and drop off by your private local insider guide, with a premium vehicle at disposal. Your customized day-trip will be enriched with bespoke itineraries off-the-beaten-track to explore and engage with the West Crete and its hidden gems. Last but not least, you will also get the best recommendations for an authentic Cretan lunch! Learn more about the Elafonisi Beach Idyllic Escape from Elounda.
Elafonisi – Pink Sands
This private tour includes three stops. First, experience the unique pink sand and postcard-worthy views at Elafonissi Beach. Then it’s on to Chrisoskalitissa Monastery, a 17-century structure built atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. Finally, tour the Cave of Agia Sofia with its impressive stalactites and stalagmites. The tour price includes up to seven people. Learn more about the Elafonisi Pink Sands Tour.
Elafonissi Beach Idyllic Escape – Customized VIP Private Tour
Experience the idyllic escape to Elafonisi beaches with pink sands and crystal clear Libyan sea waters like a true VIP. A full-day chauffeur-driven private tour with ultimate convenience and comfort. Enjoy a personal hotel, villa or cruise pick up and drop off by your private local insider guide, with a premium vehicle at disposal. Your customized day-trip will be enriched with bespoke itineraries off-the-beaten-track to explore and engage with the West Crete and its hidden gems. Last but not least, you will also get the best recommendations for an authentic Cretan lunch! Learn more about this Customized VIP Private Tour.
Best Elafonisi Beach Restaurants & Taverns
Stimadoris $11 – 30
Entering the main hall, you could think you're in a folklore museum, as it is decorated with old objects. The fish is always fresh and the seafood really good. Telephone: +30 28220 22057 Web: Stimadoris.
Innahorion $11 – 30
Mrs, Athena cooks only with virgin olive oil and fresh local ingredients. The meats are the produce of the owners of the tavern and there is fresh fish whenever the weather permits. Telephone: +30 28220 61111 Web: Innahorion.
Sunset Tavern Under $10
The first restaurant that opened in the area and as the name implies, it offers a spectacular sunset view. The portions are generous and the food is prepared strictly with fresh ingredients. Telephone: +30 2822041204 Web: Sunset.
Yalites Tavern $11 – 30
A traditional tavern in one of the most picturesque neighborhood in Livadia, decorated with folklore and marine items, where you can enjoy fresh fish, tasty casseroles and appetizers cooked in the wood-oven. Telephone: +30 697 464 3885 Web: Yalites Tavern.
Angeliko tou Fouro Tavern $11 – 30
In the hinterland of Kissamos, this tavern serves traditional Cretan dishes made from local materials, genuine and pure Cretan olive oil, and homemade pasta (courtesy of Mrs. Anthi). Excellent service in a renovated building with a lovely courtyard. Telephone: +30 6977572266 Web: Angeliko tou Fouro Tavern.
Best Elafonisi Beach Bars
Almira Beach Bar
Located at the area of Agia Marina at the old Touvladika. This could be your choice for refreshing dives under the summer sun and for spending relaxing moments enjoying some of the delicious items on the beach menu (salads, burgers, pasta, sandwiches, etc.), refreshing cocktails (more than 40 different suggestions), or enjoying a cold beer, picking out one of your choice from over 50 Greek and foreign labels. Telephone: +30 28210 84960 Web: Almira Beach Bar.
Maria Beach Bar
Located on the sandy coast of Mavro Molo in Kasteli, 35 km from the center of Chania, you will find the Maria Beach Bar right in front of the hotel bearing the same name. Given that it has shallow waters, it is an ideal choice for families with small children, so you can relax and enjoy the beautifully surroundings. Start your day off with an iced coffee and continue with chilled beers and summer cocktails. Telephone: +30 28220 22610 Web: Maria Beach Bar.
Loutraki Seaside Bar
Loutraki Seaside Bar is a lounge bar for all day long relaxation by the sea in Loutraki. It is located in the Akrotiri area, 15 minutes by car from the center of Chania. The lawn on which you can lie down, is unique to this beach bar. You can sit on the loungers nibbling on snacks or dine in the restaurant after a swim in the blue waters. It plays chill out music and progresses to dance as time passes. Telephone: +30 28210 66239 Web: Loutraki Seaside Bar.
Ammos & Hlios Beach Bar
This is one of the most famous beach bars for the youth of Chania. Upon arrival at the institutional beach bar, you'll instantly feel your mood lift; with constant good vibes and a super summery environment. Aside from its beachfront space, which is literally covered in crowds of people, it's a truly awesome bar, with sinfully sweet crepes and waffles, and a great grill restaurant which serves delicious dishes. Sport lovers will be thrilled with its beach volley facility, and its surf and kite lessons, taught by experienced trainers. There are guest DJs and performances by famous artists of the Greek music scene, but also its various happenings throughout the summer. Telephone: +30 28210 60045 Web: Ammos kai Ilios.
Neromylos Beach & Pool Bar
With 20 years in the business, this is undoubtedly considered to be one of the most successful beach bars in Chania. Neromylos beach club is located in Platanias. Right next to the main bar is a pool for those who do not want to dive into the sea. Its party mood and young crowd await you for morning coffee, swimming and games on the sandy beach. Afterwards, head for the pool bar where you can enjoy cocktails to the sounds of the dj's music selection. You can try light meals at the restaurant. Telephone: +30 28210 60449 Web: Neromylos Beach & Pool Bar.
Best Elafonisi Beach Hotels
The Petritos Hotel is 5 star hotel that offers all the advantages of a quiet and pleasant place of residence, in combination with the comforts of modern facilities. They also provide the opportunity for direct access to the -of unparalleled natural beauty- Falassarna beach while the rooms have a background view of olive trees and the deep blue sea with magical sunset.
Xasteria is located on the beachfront in Elafonisi. All rooms have a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a private bathroom. Free WiFi is available and Elafonisι is 2.8 miles away. Selected rooms here will provide you with a terrace and others also have sea views.
Domus Renier Boutique Hotel
Domus Renier Boutique Hotel is a small yet impressive luxury boutique hotel in Chania, Crete. It consists of 9 rooms and suites, all different from one another, most with a sea view of Chania harbor and the Egyptian Lighthouse. All rooms and suites are furnished with specially designed furniture and decorated with unique articles. Some include adorned ceilings, a testament to the Cretan Renaissance period of the building.
Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa
This property is a 9-minute walk from the beach. In the heart of ’s charming historic quarter, this authentic 17th-century Venetian mansion features a personalized service along with a courtyard and rooftop terrace overlooking the and the . Each combines world charm with modern comforts. From the marble bathrooms and rich fabrics to the LCD TV and free wireless internet, every effort has been taken to ensure your comfort.
Porto Veneziano Hotel
This property is a 16-minute walk from the beach. Porto Veneziano Hotel enjoys a privileged location on the waterfront of Chania's Old Venetian harbor. Fitted with environmentally friendly cooling systems throughout, it offers panoramic views and accommodations in a minimal navy design. Fitted with geothermal air conditioning, the modern guest rooms are appointed with private balconies, allowing you to admire views of the harbor, the Old Town or the White Mountains of Crete.