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Elafonissi beach

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Beach description

Elafonissi beach, situated in the southwesternmost point of Crete, is found 76km west of Chania and 5km south of Chrysoskalitisa Monastery. The beach is actually an oblong peninsula that can be separated into two parts by water, giving the illusion of two islands. This area is strictly protected under Natura 2000 regulations due to its abundance of sand dunes, sea daffodils, and junipers. Moreover, this island serves as a sanctuary for several rare species of animals and plants, including the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. As such, visitors are prohibited from removing any plants, animals, shells, or sand from the area.

On both sides of the peninsula, visitors can enjoy exotic beaches that feature white sand and turquoise water, similar to the Caribbean. The sand has a pinkish hue, which is derived from millions of crushed shells. At the peninsula’s breaking point, the seawater is not deeper than 1m, which creates a shallow lagoon ideal for children. Visitors can easily cross the lagoon while carrying their belongings, as the water is quite shallow.

The eastern side of the beach, located in front of the lagoon, is well-equipped and crowded with visitors. Facilities include umbrellas, showers, lifeguards, snack bars, and changing rooms. Nearby, there is a large parking area, as well as a few rooms available for rent. Conversely, the beaches on either side of the peninsula are less populated and are considered the most beautiful due to their mesmerizing azure colours. For those seeking complete seclusion or wishing to go nude, there are some coves available for naturists near the west end of the peninsula.

How to Get to Elafonisi Beach from Chania

Elafonisi is a corner of paradise on the southwestern coast of Crete, included in the top 10 best beaches in the world. To relax on the white and pink sand and swim in the crystal clear sea, guests of Crete come here from all over the island in all possible ways: by car, public transport or as part of an excursion group.

From Chania to Elafonisi by car

It will take at least 1.5 hours to get from Chania to Elafonisi beach. Elafonisi is located 75 km from Chania city. The best option to travel around Crete is on your own, of course, in a rented car with a navigator. There are two ways to get to the beach by car:

    1. Along the west coast on the E65 with wonderful views. The road goes past Kissamos, along serpentines. This round is longer but less stressful.
    2. Through the mountains and past the Topoli Gorge along the road that cuts through the interior of Crete. First, you need to take the National Highway to Kissamos, then turn left from the E65 highway. This path is shorter but can take longer, as you will have to move along narrow mountain roads.

Both roads are paved and equally picturesque. It is difficult to drive past Elafonisi: all the signs that you will meet along the way lead to it.

From Chania to Elafonisi by bus

Chania is connected to Elafonisi by bus. The KTEL bus departs from the city bus station at 9:00 and returns at 16:00. One-way trip takes about 2 hours. The ticket price is approximately 11 euros. This is a more complicated way than by car.

Another option is to book a guided day trip from Chania to Elafonisi Island, with hotel transfers. In this case, you do not have to worry about the difficulties of the road.

How to get to Elafonisi from Rethymnon

From Rethymno to Elafonisi by car

From Rethymno to Elafonisi is about a 3.5-4 hour one-way drive. Rethymnon city is located 129 km from the famous Elafonisi beach. It is better to leave by car at 5-6 in the morning in order to be in Elafonisi as early as possible. After driving to Chania, you need to keep heading for Kissamos and turn inland or continue along the serpentines along the coast.

From Rethymno to Elafonisi by bus

There are no direct buses from Rethymnon to Elafonisi. But you can get from the Rethymnon bus station to Chania, spend the night in this city, and in the morning take a bus from Chania to Elafonisi.

You have also the option to book a guided day trip from Rethymnon to Elafonisi Island. The trip starts with a hotel pick-up. After arriving at Elafonisi, you will have 4 hours of relaxing on the beach and swimming in crystal-clear waters. Afterwards, you will have time to enjoy lunch at a local tavern before heading back to Rethymnon.

How to get to Elafonisi from Heraklion

The road to Elafonisi from Heraklion will be long. This city is much further from the beach than Chania and Rethymno (210 km), so the best option is to plan a two-day trip.

From Heraklion to Elafonisi by car

Drive along the National Road towards the west to Chania. Then the path follows the same pattern as if you were leaving from Chania.

From Heraklion to Elafonisi by bus

Take a bus from Heraklion bus station to Chania. Here you can get out and go for a walk around the picturesque city, spend the night in Chania, and take a bus to Elafonisi in the morning.

And again you have the option to book a guided trip from Heraklion to Elafonisi.

Other ways to reach Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi can be reached by sea from Paleochora. Boats leave this village at approximately 10:00 and return at 16:00. Services are provided by both excursion companies and private traders who do not have a set schedule. Due to the fact that it takes as long to get to Paleochora as to Elafonisi, a sea trip will be relevant only for those who are nearby.

The infrastructure of Elafonisi Beach

The beach belongs to the specially protected natural sites of the island, so in this place, you will not find water activities; catering on Elafonisi is represented mainly by kiosks and small bars where you can buy snacks and drinks. There are umbrellas and sun loungers at a fixed price, but it is more convenient (if you are by car) to take sun umbrellas with you, in which case you can choose the part of the beach that you like the most, and not huddle on the most crowded equipped area with other vacationers. Sun protection for adults and children is a must as there is no natural shade.

The beaches of Elefonisi are ideal for families with small children: a gentle descent into the water allows you not to worry about the safety of the kids. In addition, you can swim here even in a storm: due to the shallow depth, there are no big waves on Elefonisi.

Parking, located near the beaches, on the island part of Crete, is free. During the summer months, Elefonisi is wildly popular with tourists, so in order to stroll along the coast in relative seclusion, it is advisable to arrive early in the morning.