Last Updated on October 8, 2022 by Celeste.
In 2019, Elafonissi Beach in Crete received international fame because of its place on CNN’s 25 World’s Best Beaches list. But the Cretan gem has a long history of enchanting travellers and locals alike. In this story, Natassa guides us around her paradise model.
Elafonissi Beach in Crete
Today I’ll take you to the place of my childhood memories: Elafonissi Beach. Back then I was dreading the trip because the place was hardly visited and the roads were narrow and rocky. We often visited Elafonissi, it was a place for locals who spent the weekends fishing and enjoying nature.
Besides a few lost backpackers, tourists were absent. Now, Elafonissi Beach is considered a dream destination and top attraction in Crete.Elafonissi beach (or Elafonissos or Elafonisi) is located in the southwest end of the prefecture of Chania, approximately 75 km from the city of Chania.
It is actually a compilation of beaches as it is located on a small peninsula partially broken which gives the impression of a small island reached by foot and big enough if you want privacy even in the peak touristic season.
The beauty of the whole place is captured in an unlimited amount of photos you can see everywhere online. But the feeling of being there and the energy this place has to offer the visitor is something unique. Elafonissi Beach in Crete is a nature-protected area. It is included in the Natura 2000 Protection Program. It is strictly forbidden to remove anything such as plants, shells, or even sand from the beach.
The color of the sand is mostly white and pink as a result of crushed shells. The tropical waters will spoil your eyes with the turquoise colours, and you will enjoy swimming like never before while embraced by the beauty. The seagulls will fly around you and greet you.
The sand dunes are also a treasure to explore as you will see the sea daffodils and junipers, plant species only found in Crete. They are under the severe protection of Natura 2000 along with other endangered species such as the loggerhead sea turtle. So, enjoy your walk and the magnificent views but don’t touch anything that struggles to survive extinction.
Visit Elafonissi Beach with Kids
The kids will not get enough of this sandy playground and will not want to leave. They will love the untouched dunes, the little sand islets, the long stretches of fine white and pink sand (made of crushed shell powder), the little coves ideal for snorkeling, the rocks full of sea life to observe, and certainly the shallow turquoise water which looks like a lagoon.
Make sure you bring the right sun protection. Also, bring beach parasols and sun hats for your children as there are not many shaded spots. On the central beach of Elafonissi, there are umbrellas and facilities such as a snack bar and changing rooms.
You might want more isolation? It is worth walking further along the beach to discover the quiet sandy corners opposite the island located within the sea.
Writing about Elafonissi beach in Crete and sharing my experience was not easy for me, because Elafonissi, is not just another “beach” as it is listed, nor a “place of natural beauty” only.
It is something that will be revealed in the heart of each individual. To me, it’s the model God made before creating heaven. The sleepless night under the sky where the stars could be reached. The realization of why nature is so divine and why less is more.
When to visit with kids
In summer time during the weekends Elafonissi can get really crowded. Week days are definitely less busy. The best time to avoid the crowds of tourists is late September and October. The weather is still beautiful and the water temperature makes it pleasant to swim, snorkel and play all day long! There are many smaller and bigger beaches and islets, and to reach the other side of the lagoon you may need to wade through its waters carrying your bags on your heads. Kids will love it!
My strongest suggestion before you visit is to check the weather conditions as quite often the area gets windy and you will not enjoy it to the fullest. Try to see the route of the winds before you go on a site such as poseidon.gr. If you see south winds for the time you want to visit you should reconsider. Try visiting when north winds are showing and your satisfaction is guaranteed.
How to get to Elafonissis Beach
Located 75 km from Chania, it’s a lot easier to visit now than in my childhood. If you decide to get to Elafonissi by car, be aware that the roads are narrow and full of turnings. The majestic landscape will certainly compensate though. You can also book an organised excursion and visit by bus.
Tickets to Elafonisssi Beach
There is much choice is organized day-trips to Elafonissi. Buses leave daily from the cities of Chania, Rethymnon and even from Heraklion (not recommended with young kids because Heraklion is far away from Elafonissi, the drive is more than 2 hours one way). These pick you up from your hotel or pick up points in your area and there is a multi-lingual guide or host available during the trip. There is a coffee break included. Some tours stop at a famous monastery of Chrysokalitisa nearby. Prices vary depending on the attractions that you will see along the way. You can buy tickets at your local tourist offices, in your hotel and on-line.
If you are in Chania, this From Chania – Day trip Elafonissi Island is value for money. It includes a stop for coffee and breakfast in the traditional village of Elos, known for its chestnut trees. There are at least 4 hours of swimming at Elafonissi. Click here to book your From Chania Day trip Elafonissi Island
If you are in Rethymnon, this From Rethymno – Day trip to Elafonissi Island is recommended. It stops for coffee in Elos and offers at least 4 hours of swimming at Elafonissi. Depart by bus at approximately 16:00 and return to Rethymno for estimated arrival time and hotel drop off at around 18:30. Click here to book your From Rethymnon Day trip Elafonissi Island
Best Beaches in Chania Crete
I am blessed to live in a part of Crete that hosts many beautiful beaches. Have a look at my blog post about Balos, a tropical paradise in Chania. I also love Falasarna beach, also located near Chania. Elafonissi, Balos and Falasarna are the best beaches in Chania and part of the most famous beaches in Greece.
Where to stay in Crete with Kids
In Where to stay in Crete with Kids, we have listed the family features of each region of the Greek island. For handpicked family hotels and recommended kid-friendly resorts, please visit The Best Family Hotels in Crete.
Natassa is born and raised in Chania in Crete, where she lives with her family. She is a mother to a boy and a girl. Natassa speaks several languages and has traveled the world extensively. However, she always returns to her homeland. She writes about her life and her family outings on her island for Family Experiences Blog. As the local expert for Crete, she shares invaluable tips for ideas, often for off-the-beaten-path experiences. Her following are parents in Crete or families interested in visiting Crete with their kids.