Elafonisi (“deer island” in Greek) is a protected natural reserve and one of the most famous beaches in Europe. This picturesque beach is located 63 km away from Platanias and takes about 1’20 hours to get to but is a must-see during your trip in Crete and is definitely worth the drive. The road through the mountains is beautiful, though might seem a bit scary. Make sure to drive carefully and avoid the dark hours, then you will have nothing to worry about.
Once arrived at the destination, you will witness the dramatic landscape of Elafonisi and understand why this beach is so popular! Vast lagoon with its turquoise shallow waters outspreads around the foot of the mountains and comes together in unforgettable scenery.
At Elafonisi beach, you will be able to choose whether you want to pick a spot on the sand further away from the crowds or rent sun-beds and umbrellas. There, you will find all the necessary beach facilities such as toilets, changing rooms, parking and snack bars.
If you are travelling on a budget, our advice is to bring some water and snacks with you and save your appetite for a meal later on – our two favourite dining choices on the way back are the fish tavernas in a nearby village Sfinari (do not miss their fresh fish soup!) or Gramvousa Restaurant, a bit closer to Platanias.
Feel like adding a bit of site-seeing to this day-trip? Then you can visit a charming Chrysoskalitissa Monastery nearby, but make sure to bring along an appropriate change of clothes.
Sadly, Elafonisi is famous not only for its beautiful nature but also for the tragic events that took place there on an Easter Sunday, 18th of April 1824. On that day, 40 Greek soldiers brought hundreds of women and children (the number varies between 640 and 850 people) to Elafonisi beach to hide from the Ottoman army and wait for a ship that was to come for their rescue. It is by accident that the enemy discovered Cretans and killed most of them, sending the others for slavery to Egypt. Today, you can stroll to the farther part of Elafonisi islet to see the memorial devoted to this tragedy.