A Guide to Elafonisi Beach, Crete

Elafonisi is one of the most breathtaking beaches on Crete Island. Its clear blue waters, pink sand, and its unique landscape attract thousands of visitors every year. It has been ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Along with the surrounding shores, it belongs to the Natura network because of its unique natural beauty.

A few years ago, Elafonisi beach was not that popular. Only a few people knew about its existence. One could enjoy the sea, the sweet breeze, and the singing of cicadas. Nowadays, it has become popular, and it is a must-see for all visitors to Crete. 

Check out: The best beaches in Chania.

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Everything You Need To Know About Elafonisi Beach in Crete

Elafonisi Beach from above

Amenities in Elafonisi Lagoon

Elafonisi beach will take your breath away. Dive into the clear blue waters and let the sun dry your body. The waters are quite shallow throughout the beach, so you might have to walk a bit further if you want to swim.

The west part of Elafonisi is facing the lagoon. This part is usually windier due to its location. The beach is organized with umbrellas and sunbeds which you can rent for a low price. This part of the beach is always very busy, so get there early, if you want to find an umbrella. 

You can also bring your umbrella. There is plenty of space to put it. I strongly advise you to bring an umbrella or a tent. There are no trees around and the sun is quite strong after 12.00.

In the summer months, there are a lot of people on the beach. It gets very noisy. Things are a bit calmer in the afternoon after the buses going back to Chania depart. 

This beach is perfect for children. They can play for hours in the shallow warm waters or make sandcastles at the shore. Parents can relax and supervise while enjoying the sun.

There are a few canteens by the beach where you can buy coffee, snacks, or cocktails. Some of them have their signature cocktails, which you should try! There is a couple of taverns as well where you can have lunch. 

Elafonisi Beach

A few meters from the beach is the small island Elafonisi, which gave its name to the beach. The level of the sea on that part is also shallow, so one can walk there. Take your time to explore it. It is surrounded by rocks and crags. There are a few nice coves, that are worth discovering. There is also a small chapel, in the memory of the lost Cretan warriors. 

There is no access to wheelchairs, thus it is a bit difficult for disabled people to come to the beach.

Activities at Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi Beach in Crete

Apart from enjoying the sea and sun, you can also explore the area. Make sure you walk a bit around the small island. 

If you are a trained hiker, you can follow path E4 which takes you from Palaiochora to Elafonisi. Different websites give information about the path. That is a nice long hike, but make sure you have enough water and supplies with you.

If you like water sports, you will enjoy yourself in Elafonisi. There is a Kite Surfing center, and you can rent the equipment that you need. They also offer water sports classes for beginners. 

Elafonisi Lagoon Crete

You can also do windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, or kayaking. 

Close to Elafonisi beach, you can also find the Monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalitissa, a nunnery perched on a 35m rock with breathtaking views of the sea.

Monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalitissa
Monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalitissa

Nearby beaches include Kedrodasos, a stunning sandy beach full of juniper trees, and Aspri Limni Beach (White Lake Beach) a relatively unknown beach with fine white sand. The beach is a Natura 2000 protected area due to an endangered palm tree called Phoenix theofrasti that can be found in the area.

The nature of Elafonisi Beach

The area around Elafonisi beach is part of the Natura 2000 network that protects rare and unique natural treasures. 

The sand is created from seashells in a process that took thousands of years. This gave it its unique pink color.  

Check out: The pink beaches in Crete.

There are about four kinds of lilies that grow on the sand of this beach. That is an example of the flora of the area. You can admire and take pictures of them, but one should not cut them. We all need to respect and protect these small treasures of the Aegean.

How to get to Elafonisi Beach:

Elafonisi beach is in the southeast of the island of Crete. It is about 75 km away from Chania city. You can get there by car, taxi, bus, or a guided tour.

By Car: If you have a car you go in the direction of Kissamos and the trip takes about 1.30 hours. Driving it is a bit tricky as the road is winding and narrow. You will see however amazing landscapes on your way, which make the trip well worth it. The parking space close to the beach is free.  

I recommend booking a car through Discover Cars where you can compare all rental car agencies’ prices, and you can cancel or modify your booking for free. They also guarantee the best price. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

By Bus: You can also get to the beach by bus. In the summer months, there are regular buses leaving not only from Chania but also from other parts of Crete. One-way tickets from Chania cost about 10 euros and it takes about 2.10’ to reach your destination. Make sure you book your tickets in advance as there is a lot of demand during the high touristic season. You can find more information on the website of the bus company (KTEL)  which is available in Greek, English, and German. 

Of course, you can also get there by taxi but that will probably cost a bit more. 

Finally, a stress-free way of getting to Elafonisi Beach is by a guided tour: Check out my recommendations below:  

Day Trip to Elafonisi Island from Chania

Day Trip to Elafonisi Island from Rethymno

Where to stay near Elafonisi Beach

There are many hotels and resorts in that area. You should check them out if you plan to stay there for more than a day. Camping on the beach is strictly forbidden.  Below find some recommended hotels:

Once you arrive, experience everything Elafonisi has to offer you. Take big breaths, sunbathe, swim. So not rush to the next place. Enjoy the moment. Feel the wind and leave your footprints on the sand. Admire the beautiful sunset. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Take in as much as you can.

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2 thoughts on “A Guide to Elafonisi Beach, Crete”

  1. If Elafonisi Beach is a protected nature area, what rights does the family who take the umbrella rental money, to operate? What rights do they have to charge tourists to use the permanent beach umbrellas and the toilets? Where does this money go?


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