One of the major pulls to West Crete was to visit the stunning Elafonisi, which seduced us by its promise of sparkling turquoise waters and pink-tinged sandy beaches…
Elafonisi is situated on the south western coast of Crete. We drove there from where we were staying in Chania – a distance of about 75 kilometres (47 miles). The day we chose was beautifully sunny and the outside temperature was pushing 28°C – perfect in my eyes.
The area is a protected nature reserve and consists of a small island and series of beaches with stunning white and pink sand and rare plant species.
There are various signs up warning tourists not to steal the sand from Elafonisi beach; apparently this kept happening in the past so it currently retains only about 10% of the colour saturation that it once had.
I did find a little bit of the sand in my shoes when I got back to the hotel later that evening – hopefully that doesn’t count!
We spent a couple of hours just enjoying everything: the warmth of the sun, the clear blue waters and the stunning scenery. I enjoyed leisurely wading through the shallow water and feeling like I was in paradise; it is hands down the most beautiful beach I have ever been to.
I saw various tiny fish and think I even saw a couple of small jellyfish on the sea floor; I made sure I was watching where I was treading after that!
We headed over to the small island, which we could walk to by just paddling through a few small super-heated pools of water.
Pink-hued sand was more clearly visible here, and it was less busy and a few more scantily-dressed people could be seen – which is fine, I just had to make sure they didn’t think I was taking photos of them!
We drove back to Chania along a coastal road which had absolutely amazing views but was very windy and narrow. Crazy drivers will speed around a blind corner towards you and there are commonly stray rocks and animals (mostly goats) in the road which pose obvious hazards – so if you’re going to drive in Crete, be careful!
In peak periods there are the alternate options of buses and boat tours which can transport people to popular landmarks instead if you don’t want to drive.
We went to Elafonisi just out of season at the end of April and that was perfect for us – it was a great temperature; not too hot for us pasty Brits! It also wasn’t too packed with other tourists, but useful amenities like toilets were closed, so that wasn’t ideal! A highly recommended trip though – do it if you’re in West Crete.