Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece

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 ItselfChania, Crete Greece, Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece, Greece beaches, things to do in Crete, Elefonisi Beach restaurants, best hotels in Crete, best hotels at Elafonisi Beach

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.

Weather (When to Go)

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.

Chania, Crete Greece, Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece, Greece beaches, things to do in Crete, Elefonisi Beach restaurants, best hotels in Crete, best hotels at Elafonisi BeachEntry Requirements for Greece

For entry into Greece, citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, and almost all other non-E.U. countries are required to have a valid passport, which is stamped upon entry and exit, for stays up to 90 days.  Travelers bearing passports from the European Union countries, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not need visas, nor do citizens of many other countries. But to be sure, check with the nearest Greek consulate. And allow several weeks to get such a visa.

How to Get to Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece

By Car

The routes from Crete’s bigger towns on the north coast are narrow and winding  In some places there are no safety barriers. If you have a head for heights, don’t mind blind hairpin turns, and are willing to take the time (90 minutes to two hours from Chania), the roads over Crete’s central mountain ridge to the beaches on the southwest coast are incredibly scenic. But if you do go by car, either stay overnight or leave when there is no chance of darkness falling. These are not roads you want to tackle at night.

By Bus

There are public bus services that service Elafonisi  Beach and other West Cretan villages from Chania. You can find the time-table for Elafonisi here.

By Coach Tour

Several companies run frequent coach tours of the western villages that include Elafonisi Beach along with other sightseeing spots. Organized tours from Chania or Rethymno are operated by Elafonissos Travel and Odeon Travel.

Area Attractions

Elafonisi Beach, Crete Greece, Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece, Greece beaches, things to do in Crete, Elefonisi Beach restaurants, best hotels in Crete, best hotels at Elafonisi BeachElafonisi Beach

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.

36 Comments

  1. David Donahue

    Awesome post.Looks like a place.I would love to check out. Back in the late 70s growing up in San Diego me and some surf friends went to some cliffs and found a killer inside left breaking consistently. We called it out secret spot. And it was until the weekend came and the locals came to surf it. I have always dreamed of an isolated spot to surf with no crowds. This is what I envisioned it would be like if there were waves there. Well.written and informative!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks David and also for stopping by and leaving me comments. There might not be the big waves here, but it is definitely beautiful and worth a visit.

      Reply
  2. kuu

    I really love reading your post Leahrae. It’s really inspired me to make Crete mine next destination trip. I cannot wait to visit there.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      It is a good choice for sure! Absolutely beautiful with lots to see and do. You will have a wonderful time here!

      Reply
  3. Lucas

    What a breath taking view! I’ll definitely have to add this to the list of places to visit!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      It is a bucket list item for sure Lucas! When you are ready, I would be more than happy to help or answer any questions for you. Thank you for visiting Beach Travel Destinations.

      Reply
  4. Kitty

    Hey Leahrae! I loved the overview of Elafonisi! I almost went to Greece once, but unfortunately there was a ferry strike and I couldn’t get there! It has been on my list ever since!!

    I love that you’ve broken down all these places to go, I wasn’t such a preparer back then, and now I love to have a list of things to check out! I was just wondering, what’s your number one must see there? Also is there any season that is more likely to have pink beaches? I would LOVE to see that!

    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Kitty for taking the time to stop in and leave me comments. I cannot tell you a particular time that you will see the pink sand, BUT it is pink more often than not 🙂 The number one place in Crete is going to be Elafonisi Beach, hands down. I would also make sure to check out Surf Island as well 🙂 Thank you for visiting Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece.

      Reply
  5. Dwayne Robertson

    Lovely!

    I don’t go to beach a lot, but this is tempting. I might just go there some day.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I hope I can tempt you! There really is so much more to just “going to the beach”. I am a water person and love the outdoors, so I enjoy visiting sights, and of course playing in the water. So much to see and do! Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  6. Steve Sharp

    Hi I loved your website it was so informative and well laid out, as a disabled person I wonder if you could bear that in mind when reviewing these beautiful places, so many are inaccessible for various reasons and it would be good to know if they were or not. Well done great site

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Steve for stopping in and taking the time to leave me comments. I will definitely be reviewing beaches that are wheel chair accessible. Everyone enjoys beautiful scenery 🙂
      \\\

      Reply
  7. hong

    This is a great article about Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece. Greece is one of the travel destinations that my husband and I would love to visit one day. I have never seen or even heard of pink sand. That is something to look forward to when I decide to visit Elafonisi Beach. Thank you for such detailed information. You have covered everything one needs to know. Keep up with the work.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks Hong, and glad you enjoyed your digital visit to Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece. I hope that you will get to vacation there with your husband soon!

      Reply
  8. Eric Chen

    Hey Leahrae,

    Impressive overview for Elafonisi Beach Crete! Greece is one of my vacation destinations. After reading your article, I just might have to push it to the top of my list.

    I am traveling to New York City next month, so maybe I’ll plan the trip to Greece after. When do you recommend that I do so? I don’t want to go there when it’s super crowded.

    Cheers,
    Eric

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I would say to head there in late August or early September. October is nice as well, but the water might be a bit chilly. But of course, there is so much to see and do besides a dip in Elafonisi Beach 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  9. Moni

    Thank you for a great review of Elafonisi Beach Crete.

    I have been very fortunate to have had the chance to visit many of the Greek Islands and explore some of the most beautiful beaches.

    Elafonisi Beach sounds amazing and it is definitely on my list of places to go now. I have never seen pink sand so that will be a first for me!

    I just love visiting your site as your reviews want to make me jump on the next plane to go there.. keep up the good work!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Moni, and for continuing to stop by and visit. Glad you enjoyed reading about Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece!

      Reply
  10. Elektra

    Such an amazing looking beach! How stunning!
    The pink sand looks great and unusual.
    I was always dreaming of going to Greece as I have some Greek heritage. Apart from seeing some classic tourist attractions, I would love to go to Elafonisi Beach as well.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, if going to Greece, and you love the beach, then Elafonisi Beach is a must for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  11. Dean Santillan

    I travel quite a lot but never have been anywhere close to Crete. After reading this I am definitely going to add this to my travel bucket list. This would be a great place for photography and quite a few beers. Absolutely stunning. Great article!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, it is stunning and a definite great place for photography. I am glad you enjoyed reading about Elafonisi Beach, Crete Greece. You will fall in love when you visit! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  12. shalisha alston

    Greece is an Island I’ve always wanted to see. You have an amazing way of describing these islands so that the person feels like they’re actually there! Wow. Soft, powdery, pink sand? Shallow warm water? All while experiencing this on the back of a horse? That sounds amazing. Let me ask you something. All of these places that you write about, have you been there?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad you are enjoying visiting beach travel destinations Shalisha and this is an amazing place, exactly as described. I have been to many places I write about, but of course, there are some that are on my bucket list that require research 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave me comments.

      Reply
  13. stefanie taylor

    This was a great timing article for me to read as we are actually planning a late summer holiday to Crete this year. Fortunately, it’s not too far from the UK and I literally can’t wait!

    I had no idea that Crete had so many delights to offer, and that pic of Elfonisi beach’s pink sand is just beautiful. Such a great spectacle to see. And I’m looking forward to the horseback riding… something that had been a childhood dream of mine 🙂

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You will really enjoy horseback riding on the beach. One of my favorite things to do actually. Something that is kind of tradition for my son and myself when we vacation to a beach and it is available. Please let me know if you have any questions Stefanie, and thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  14. Eric

    Elafonisi Beach in Crete Greece makes me think about somebody who fantasizes about elephants but would most likely be named Elephantasy instead hehe. You can explore but leave your umbrella and chairs behind, that way you don’t accidentally poke a nude bather who has blent into the beach. All silliness behind I have certainly heard great things about the beaches in this area and as long as you don’t mind fighting over a spot it’s a blast.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Well you can go off season 🙂 But because of the fame of being one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, yes it will have some crowds. I think it is definitely worth it though! Thanks for stopping by Eric.

      Reply
  15. Mick Krug

    I have always wanted to go to Greece but haven’t as of yet. They have some nice beaches there. Elafonisi Beach is a very nice beach. Your webpage reveals that they have a lot of 5 star resorts which is great. I spotted a nude sun bather in the video. See if you can find him. Hint: He is on some rocks. Very rocky area around the Elafonisi Beaches. Is Crete very rocky as well?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, I saw the nude sunbather 😀 And yes there are some rocky sections to Crete. Really a beautiful destination. Thanks for stopping by and visiting Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece.

      Reply
  16. Robert M Doyle

    Greece. I have never been there, but there is so much history and culture, I would just love to go. A must if you like the classical. Pink sand composed of shells. Wow! I never knew that. I am sure it is a beautiful sight to behold. Thanks again for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, definitely beautiful Robert! Along with the history and the beautiful scenery, a beach destination must 🙂 Thanks for visiting Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece.

      Reply
  17. piseth

    Very nice topic. I love beaches and travelling with my family. I used to wish to have a site talking like yours also. I like your articel

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Piseth! I am glad you enjoyed visiting beach travel destinations and visiting wonderful Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece.

      Reply
  18. Daniella

    I was in Crete 2 years ago with my children in August and it was absolutely fantastic! The only complaint I have is that the place was way too crowded. Next time I’ll travel in May or in September, the weather is much more pleasant and less crowded. Our favorite activity is snorkeling; maybe you know a good place where we can rent our snorkel gear? That would be really helpful:)

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes Daniella, you can rent from Dive 2 gether who can provide with all your rental needs including snorkeling gear. And yes, it can get crowded given the fact that it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. May or September are great months to avoid the crowds for sure. Thanks for visiting Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece.

      Reply

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