Elafonisi, Crete

Elafonisi is one of the most beautiful and spectacular beaches in Europe. It is known for its extremely bright white sands with light, subtle pink shades. The beach represents a shallow lagoon that connects the island of Crete to the nearby small island of Elafonisi (Elafonisi means “Treasure Island”). The water in the shallow lagoon, barely reaching up to the knee, is known for its amazing shades of azure and sky blue. In good weather conditions one could easily reach the nearby rocky island. Elafonisi is a Natura 2000 protected area.

elafonisi beach

Elafonisi beach by Franco Vannini

Elafonisi is a pleasure for the senses

The out of this world lagoon of Elafonisi is a real pleasure for the senses. The warm Mediterranean sun, transparent waters, gentle breezes and fine sand caress the skin.

The gentle aroma of sea is everywhere and creates an enjoyable and relaxing feeling of freedom. The surrounding landscape with its soft pale colors and shades pleases the eye.

Sparse and grayish dry-loving Mediterranean vegetation, presented mostly by small trees and dry bushes, covers the foot of the high and bare brownish mountains.

The scenery is very beautiful and really memorable. This is the embodiment of the dry and warm southern coast of the hot and sunny Greek island.

Where is Elafonisi located?

Elafonisi is the name of a small island and the belonging shallow lagoon and its fabulous beaches. This small piece of paradise is located in the southwestern tip of the island of Crete.

It is located exactly at 35°16’16” north latitude and 23°32’26” east longitude. From all the major cities of Crete the closest one is Chania.

The straight-line distance between the city and Elafonisi is about 50 km but by road it is about 72 km. It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to overcome the distance.

elafonisi greece

Elafonisi Greece by Franco Vannini

You can get there by taxi, rental car or even traveling by bus, which is also quite easily during the tourist season. Another alternative is to join a group and to enjoy a day trip by bus or by boat.

It is important to know that Elafonisi is located in a relatively remote tip of the island, so the infrastructure is less developed and not so good, and the same applies to the winding road that leads to the lagoon.

It is also good to carry everything you may need, for example beach towels, swimsuit, sunscreen, some food, water, umbrella or whatever you can think of. In the area there are no settlements, and therefore the opportunities to buy anything are quite limited.

Of course, in the area of Elafonisi there are some options to buy some food or drink, but as a whole it is recommended to be prepared in advance.

In the area are offered also some lounges to hide from the scorching sun, but as we said, you will not go wrong if you wear an umbrella just for in case.

When to visit the beach of Elafonisi?

The beach season in the area of Elafonisi starts in April. The average daytime temperature is around 20°C. However, the weather varies significantly from one day to another.

elafonisi around

Elafonisi around by Franco Vannini

Some days are cool, windy or rainy. In others, however, is a real warm summer with pleasant temperatures of about 25°C. The sea water temperature is still relatively low, about 17 – 18°C, but is still possible to swim, especially if you are not too warm-loving person.

From early May till the end of October, the warm and sunny summer weather is guaranteed. The period brings perfect daytime temperatures of over 24°C. Sea waters are warm and very pleasant for swimming.

In July and August the area is quite busy from early morning until late afternoon. The sea offers pleasant coolness, and the water is about 25 – 26°C on average. The burning summer heat along the coast is not to be underestimated.

The average daytime temperature in this part of the year rarely falls below 29 – 30°C in the shade, so it is recommended to be careful with the sun. Do not stay too long in the sun, use strong sunscreen and drink plenty of water.

In October, the summer heat is gone, but the month still brings perfect temperatures for sunbathing and swimming – 24°C on the coast and around 23 in the water. This is considered one of the best times to visit Elafonisi.

The end of October normally marks the end of the active tourist season and the number of tourists usually decreases sharply.

November brings quite variable weather, but there are also some very pleasant days, which offer excellent conditions for swimming and sun tanning.

The temperature during the day is about 21°C on average but can easily reach 24 – 25°C. Moreover, the seawater temperature is still around 20°C, so the bathing in some of the warmer days can be very enjoyable.

Elafonisi in winter

The winter season on the island of Elafonisi and the area of the beautiful lagoon lasts from December to March. In this part of the year Elafonisi is not a very popular place to visit.

The average daytime temperature reaches up to 17°C and the average night temperature is around 9°C. The sea water temperature is about 17°C in January. Sometimes in winter appear strong winds, which cause high waves in the area.

You should know also that spending a windy day in such a sandy place like this can be quite an unpleasant experience. For this reason, if you are planning to visit Elafonisi in winter to take pictures or just to enjoy the wild nature, make sure in advance what the weather in the area will be.

Landmarks in close proximity of Elafonisi

elafonisi crete

Elafonisi Crete by Franco Vannini

At approximately 5 km north of the lagoon is one of the most interesting sights in the West of Crete – the Chrisoskalitissa Monastery. The old stone building from the 17th century is situated on high cliffs offering spectacular views toward the deep-blue sea.

For those who want to stay near Elafonisi, the village offers a range of accommodation options.

Drawbacks of Elafonisi

The biggest drawback of Elafonisi is the geographical remoteness and lack of facilities in the area. It is recommended to be careful also with the summer heat and the sun.

If you want to find some shade (though not everyone is able to withstand the burning sun during the midday hours) the opportunities are not very good.

Also, do not forget that the infrastructure in the area is relatively poor. If you are considering to rent a car, it is recommended to choose something appropriate.

Advantages of Elafonisi

The first advantage of Elafonisi is fact that the water in the lagoon is very shallow and therefore very safe for bathing and swimming.

Of course, there is no such thing as guaranteed security when it comes to swimming into the sea, but certainly the place is one of the safest you can imagine.

For this reason the lagoon is a favorite place for families traveling with their kids. Furthermore, there are no dangerous sea creatures in the sea as a whole.

There are no big cities near the lagoon of Elafonisi, so the natural environment, and in particular the beach and the sea, is very clean.

Rare species

Elafonisi looks like a desert area, but it is a place where you will find a large number of rare species of plants and animals.

Birds, snakes, lizards and other creatures find refuge and breed undisturbed in the area. In fall you can see huge flocks of birds.

They stop here for a last short break before starting the big traveling over the Mediterranean to Africa.

Among the most valuable species of animals which can be seen in the region is the endangered Hawksbill turtle.