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Elafonissi Pictures

  • Elafonissi lagoon
    Elafonissi is in west Crete, 75 kilometres southwest of Chania. The Elafonissi area includes the beach, the islet 200 metres offshore and the shallow lagoon between the two.
  • picture of Elafonissi
    The Elafonissi lagoon is warm, shallow and usually calm.
  • Elafonissi beaches
    The large beach at Elafonissi offers beach umbrellas and sun loungers. Like every tourist resort, it is much more crowded in July and August, and the best time to enjoy Elafonissi is in early June or late September.
  • Elafonissi picture
    The crystal-clear, blue-green waters are what draws thousands of visitors to Elafonissi each summer.
  • Elafonissi island
    The lagoon is shallow and you can easily walk across to the islet with its white sandy beaches.
  • Elafonissi lagoon
    Another picture of visitors walking in the lagoon. A small child will need help, but teenagers and adults will find the water only reaches their waists.
  • Elafonissi lagoon picture
    The lagoon and the big beach seen from Elafonissi across the lagoon.
  • Elafonissi beach
    At Elafonissi grown-ups can relax while children discover the magic of the clear, shallow water of the lagoon.
  • Elafonissi
    A couple enjoying the sun and sea at Elafonissi.
  • windusfing in Elafonissi
    Elafonissi is a popular spot for windsurfers, obviously outside the lagoon. The north-westerly winds in summer create the ideal conditions for the sport.
  • Aphrodite of Elafoniss
    Venus Anadyomene at Elafonissi.
  • sanddunes of Elafonissi
    Beautiful while lilies grow on the islet’s sand dunes.
  • Elafonissi sand places
    As for the sand, it is really pink in places thanks to seashell framents.
  • sand at Elafonissi
    Another photo of pink sand at Elafonissi.
  • Sculptures of sand
    Sand sculptures. Some people are inspired to create rather than relax on this unique Cretan beach.
  • Elafonissi beaches
    On Elafonissi island you will find lots of tiny beaches with white sand and turquoise waters.
  • Elafonissi
    With so many people at Elafonissi, the eye will find something to dwell on other than natural beauties.
  • Sand dune at Elafonissi
    A small sand dune on Elafonissi islet with the typical fine, white, sugar-like sand.
  • Elafonissi picture
    Enjoying the peace and quiet on the island in the afternoon, once most visitors have left.
  • Elafonissi island
    Returning to the big beach across the lagoon.
  • Elafonissi lagoon
    The heads of those leaving the island behind are lowered. How can you leave such beauty for the return trip home?
  • Elafonissos or Elafonissi
    The first letters form the word “Elafonissi”.
  • Statue of a Cretan warrior
    A statue of a Cretan warrior, a memorial to those who fell here in 1824, when 850 women and children were slaughtered by the Turkish army.
  • Elafonissi
    With bittersweet feelings of joy at having enjoyed this unique spot and sorrow at leaving, we leave Elafonissi to the seabirds, its permanent inhabitants.
  • Holy Monastery of Chrissoskalitissa
    The historic Chrissoskalitissa Monastery is 5 kilometres before the beach and many visitors stop here as they arrive or leave Elafonissi.
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About Elafonissi

elafonnisi - elafonissos mapIf you come to Crete on holiday, Elafonissi is a name you are sure to hear. Elafonissi is a tiny island with white sand, separated from the shore by a lagoon no more than a metre deep.

Elafonissi means “deer island”, but you won’t see any deer on the island or in the surrounding area. The island is 75 kilometres from Hania and it will take you about an hour and a half to get here.

On the way you will see Chrissoskalitissa (or Chrysoskalitissa) Monastery, visible from afar as it is a dazzling white and built on a great rock. Climb up to pay your respects at this historic monastery and look for the golden step which, according to legend, only the truly devout can see.

Elafonissi is 5 kilometres from Chrissoskalitissa. On arriving you will see a large bare expanse used as a car park, a few dusty juniper trees and the wonderful colours of the lagoon.

The island is less than 200 metres from the beach and you can easily walk there through the warm, shallow water of the lagoon. On reaching the island you will discover lots of tiny beaches on its south coast.

The sand of Elafonissi is white, but in many places it is pinkish due to the thousands of broken seashells it contains. The limpid, blue-green waters will remind you of an exotic paradise.

Seeing the idyllic beauty for which Elafonissi is famous, it is hard to imagine that its name is linked to tragic events.

The massacre in 1824 at Elafonissi

Here the Turks massacred 850 people on Easter Sunday 1824. The massacre was carried out purely in revenge to punish of the rebellious Cretan people, as the victims were mostly women and children.

The sinking of the Imperatrix at Elafonissi

SS ImperatrixAlso, in February 1907 the SS Imperatrix ran aground on the reefs around Elafonissi, with the loss of 38 of the 140 people aboard who were travelling to India (120 crew and 20 passengers). The monks of Chrissoskalitissa Monastery and the few local inhabitants threw themselves into the wild breakers and managed to save 38 people.

To prevent similar accidents in future, a tall lighthouse, visible at a great distance, was built on Elafonissi, to warn sailors to stay away from the dangerous rocks. Unfortunately all the junipers and other trees on Elafonissi were sacrificed to build the lighthouse. The lighthouse was destroyed by the German army during the Second World War, and has now been replaced by a modern structure.

Thousands of people visit Elafonissi each summer, reaching 2,500 daily in July and August, so if you want to enjoy the island it’s much better to come at the beginning or end of the summer or avoid the hours from 11 to 4, especially at weekends. There are a few rooms for rent and tavernas nearby.

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