With shallow waters, pale pink-tinted sands, and sweeping dunes, Elafonisi is frequently and deservedly listed among Europe’s best beaches. The beach is connected to a protected island nature reserve, which is home to a variety of rare plants and animals, including loggerhead sea turtles.
Elafonisi Beach is a little pocket of paradise and a must-see for visitors to Crete. Many day tours from Chania visit the beach and also stop at the 17th-century Chrisoskalitissa Monastery en route. Most day tours include several hours of free time at Elafonisi, so travelers can sunbathe, swim, and head out across to the island nature reserve to explore the trails. At low tide, visitors can walk across to the island via the exposed sandbar. At high tide, the sandbar is covered by wadable-depth water.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Elafonisi Beach is a must for families, beach lovers, and nature enthusiasts.
- The shallow waters of the beach are ideal for bathing, so be sure to bring a swimsuit.
- Sun loungers and umbrellas can be rented on the main beach.
- There are no facilities on the island, so carry water with you if you go exploring.
- The beach is not suitable for wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Elafonisi Beach is situated in the west of Crete, around 46 miles (74 kilometers) southwest of Chania. Local KTEL buses connect Chania to Elafonisi. It's easiest to arrive as part of a tour that includes transportation.
When to Get There
Get there before 11am—earlier, if possible—to find a favorable spot on the sand. While the beach gets busier later in the day, there is usually enough space on the sand that you won’t be elbow-to-elbow with your fellow sunbathers.
What to See on the Island
Elafonisi island offers the chance to escape the beach crowds and enjoy some quiet time amid nature. Follow trails leading to a lighthouse on the western tip, where you can gaze out across the Mediterranean, and look out for the sea daffodils and juniper trees that grow here in abundance. For those who want to sunbathe away from the busy mainland beach, it’s possible to find small and quiet hideaway coves on the island.