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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Surf Island’s activities include wind surfing, surfing and SUP rentals and lessons. You can get all your rental needs at Surf Island Station in Elafonisi. With a beautiful lagoon and a south-facing swimming beach, crystal clear water, pink sand, and exotic scenery….all this can only be found in a few places on Earth. The location is exposed to the north-west wind of Ionian sea and is a side-shore spot with steady wind and no gusts or changes in direction.
The monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalitissa is located 72km south of Chania, very close to the magnificent lagoon of Elafonissi. It operates as a nunnery and reminds of a fortress, perched on a high rock with boundless sea views. The temple has two aisles dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity. The exact date of the establishment of the monastery is unknown. On the beach, next to the monastery, a small fishing village of the Middle Minoan period has been found.
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.
Things to Do
Paleochora Safari offers personalized service and true Cretan hospitality. They offer an opportunity to explore the real Cretan Culture. Their traditional safari adventures into the rural parts of Western Crete will guarantee a unique experience never lived before. You can explore the Local secrets of wine making, olive oil production, visits to old picturesque churches and ancient villages, Crete’s oldest olive tree, breathtaking landscapes and many more amazing attractions of remarkable history and raw beauty. For more information call +30 694 005 0022, or visit them on the web at Paleochora Safari.
They offer their guests scuba diving and snorkeling boat tours, as well as full and half day trekking tours. Upon request, they can also arrange abseiling events and free diving classes for beginners. During the less hot months they arrange week trekking – and trail running programs, including full or half board and airport transfers. They can also arrange canyoning tours and rappel training for private groups. For more information call +30 694 011 1165, or visit them on the web at Nireas Adventures.
Boat ride, swimming, and fishing around Paleochora…do you enjoy sunny Paleochora and it’s beaches? If yes, you will love their boat ride. They offer a unique experience to a very small group of people to explore inaccessible beaches near Paleochora and South Western Crete. You will enjoy the sea, relax, sunbathe, and swim at the beaches or in secluded smaller coves. For more information call +30 695 750 0566, or visit them on the web at Paleochora Boat Trip.
Experience the incredible and unique beauty of Paleochora from the back of a horse. Their primary objective is for you to have a memorable experience while visiting Paleochora. For more information call +30 697 728 6525, or visit them on the web at Horses Paleochora.
Best Restaurants & Taverns
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
$$ – $$$ Stimadoris
Entering the main hall, you could think you’re in a folklore museum, as it is decorated with old objects. The fish is always fresh and the seafood really good. For more information call +30 28220 22057, or visit them on the web at Stimadoris.
$$ – $$$ Innahorion
Mrs Athena cooks only with virgin olive oil and fresh local ingredients. The meats are the produce of the owners of the tavern and there is fresh fish whenever the weather permits. For more information call +30 28220 61111, or visit them on the web at Innahorion.
$ Sunset Tavern
The first restaurant that opened in the area and as the name implies, it offers a spectacular sunset view. The portions are generous and the food is prepared strictly with fresh ingredients. For more information call +30 2822041204, or visit them on the web at Sunset.
$ Yalites Tavern
A traditional tavern in one of the most picturesque neighborhood in Livadia, decorated with folklore and marine items, where you can enjoy fresh fish, tasty casseroles and appetizers cooked in the wood-oven. For more information call +30 697 464 3885, or visit them on the web at Yalites Tavern.
$$ – $$$ Angeliko tou Fouro Tavern
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. For more information call +30 6977572266, or visit them on TripAdvisor at Angeliko tou Fouro Tavern.
Best Beach Bars
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. For more information call +30 28210 84960, or visit them on the web at Almira 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. For more information call +30 28220 22610, or visit them on the web at Maria Beach 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. For more information call +30 28210 66239, or visit them on the web at Loutraki Seaside 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. For more information call +30 28210 60045, or visit them on the web at Ammos kai Ilios.
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. For more information call +30 28210 60449, or visit them on the web at Neromylos Beach & Pool Bar.
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. They offer you an unforgettable stay during the summer months and you can feel the breeze of the Mediterranean, unique beaches, proximity to beautiful destinations, and antiquities of Falassarna. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Petritos Hotel.
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. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Xasteria.
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. Each and every one is equipped with comfort, luxury and modern technology in mind. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Domus Renier Boutique Hotel.
This property is a 9-minute walk from the beach. In the heart of For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa.’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. Enjoy a sumptuous breakfast served every day in ’s courtyard. A stylish bar serves a range of drinks. The Casa Delfino features an marble steam room, an extra large hot tub and a soothing relaxation area. The at Casa Delfino is more than happy to provide information and other suggestions for your leisure time. Casa Delfino enjoys a superb within the picturesque narrow streets of Chania’s historic quarter, just a short walk from the sea.
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. Start off with a sumptuous, Greek, buffet breakfast consisting of freshly squeezed orange juice and homemade delicacies before taking a stroll along the water’s edge to the charming harbor. Chania’s most famous sites are all within easy walking distance of Porto Veneziano. The nearest organized beach is just 0.9 mi away. Head back to Porto Veneziano for an evening drink or light meal at hotel’s bar. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi throughout and operates a smoke-free environment on all communal areas, guest rooms and suites. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Porto Veneziano Hotel.