Have you ever felt envious of Johnny Depp hopping those picturesque islands while watching The Pirates of the Caribbean? Have you ever felt “I wish I could be at a place like that!”?
Then Elafonissi is the place you MUST visit during your stay on Crete! It is the most exotic beach of Crete, at the southwestern part of the island, about 70km from Chania city. It has an oblong shape, which often "breaks" in two parts by water giving the impression of being a separate island. Exotic beaches with turquoise waters and fine white sand are formed on either side of the peninsula, and make you want to dance limbo and drink cocktails in coconut shells! The coral pink sand you will notice in many parts of the beach gets its color from the deposited red and pink shells that are roughly ground up by the ocean and is strictly forbidden to be removed from there.
The eastern side of the beach is well organized and therefore preferred by the majority of people. If you want more tranquility and isolation then I would recommend you to visit either the far right or far left part of the beach where you will still enjoy the magnificence of the scenery with less of a crowd!
Strolling on the ‘island’ is definitely worth the effort. You can trek for 20 minutes until the lighthouse on the edge of the island. This area is called Agia Irini (Saint Irene), named after the picturesque chapel with the endless view to the sea.
Worth mentioning here is the fact that Elafonissi beach is among the five best "unknown" beaches in Europe, according to the BBC Travel, and among the top 10 beaches worldwide, according to TripAdvisor.
Many believe that the name of Elafonissi means “the island of the deer” (elafi: deer) which doesn’t make any sense as deers have never inhabited the island. The truth is that the island was once a base of pirates and the real name is ‘Lafonisi’, coming from the spoils hidden by the pirates on the island (lafira=spoils). So who knows what hidden treasures you might find once you are here!!!
In order to reach Elafonissi from Rethymno and Chania, please drive on the National Road towards Kissamos (Kasteli). About 1 km before Kasteli, you turn right and follow the sign towards Topolia gorge and then, the signs towards Elafonissi. The trip is an adventure itself as the road is very narrow at many points making you feel like the cliff is one breath away! However if you are driving carefully you will not have any problems. Relax and enjoy the breathtaking views of the gorge during this unique road trip!