Visit Elafonisi Beach on Crete
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There are so many beaches on Crete that it can be hard to figure out how to spend your time. However, Elafonisi Beach should be at the top of your list. Named for the island that can be seen from the beach itself, this beach offers some great views. You can actually access the island by wading across the shallow lagoon.
Natural Beautfy of Elafonisi Beach
Elafonisi Beach itself is incredibly beautiful. The water is a warm and clear turquoise that feels silky soft against your skin. It is perfect for snorkeling. It is possible to do so for hours, taking brief rest when needed by simply standing in the shallow water.
The beach itself and surrounding coastline are a sanctuary for flora and fauna and are part of a protected dune area called Natura 2000. It is illegal to remove these from the area. The sand is very soft and powdery, which contrasts to the rocky surfaces found on many other Greek beaches, which are made of course sand or pebbles. Here, barefoot romantic walks are easy on your feet.
The reason for the pinkish color of the sand – it is mostly due to the crushed up pink shells of foraminifera, a local sea creature. There are also tiny red organisms that add to the pretty color.
The only downside is that the natural beauty attracts crowds of both locals and tourists.
Because of the numbers of people, you may have to bring your own snorkeling gear as well as beach umbrellas and chairs. There are kiosks selling food and drink as well as public toilets and showers that are available for a small fee. It is recommended that you arrive early so as to assure yourself of a parking spot and a place to set up on the beach. You should also make sure to bring sunscreen and a good hat to shade your face if you are subject to sunburn.
Explore Elafonisi Island
Elafonisi Island is a protected nature reserve across the water from Elafonisi Beach.
Even at high tide, the water in the lagoon is only about a meter high. During low tide, it’s easy to walk across to explore the island. Here you can escape the crowds in various secluded coves.
There are idyllic sand dunes and over 100 rare plants including the sea daffodil. You might even see loggerhead turtles if you are lucky, as they come to the island to lay their eggs. This is a great place to visit when you can access it, so be sure to check the tides. You will want to visit this island if you get a chance.
Learn About History
During the Greek War of Independence, on April 18th, 1824, several hundred Greeks, mostly women and children, were hiding on Elafonisi Island when they were discovered by Turkish Ottoman soldiers. Only a few survived and were then sold into slavery in Egypt. A plaque on the island commemorates this event.
There is also a large wooden cross on the island in remembrance of the shipwreck of the Imperatrix, on February 22, 1907. 38 people died while trying to reach shore in a lifeboat.
For snorkelers and divers, the wreck provides an interesting spot to explore as it still lies on the sea floor close to the island. Due to the wreck, a lighthouse was built here that was later destroyed by German troops during World War II.
While on the Greek island of Crete, you should carve out some time to spend at Elafonisi Beach. It’s a great place to visit!
This post was written by Greek Boston