Heraklion taxi provides private transfers from Heraklion airport to Elafonisi
Elafonisi, in the South-West of Crete has become a very popular destination for day trippers who flood to this corner of paradise by car, bus or boat. Its main attraction to most tourists is the unique feeling of being in a South Seas lagoon whilst having a Mediterranean holiday.
Unfortunately the popularity of Elafonisi has removed another main factor in attraction: the wild beauty of a deserted place. In summer you will find sun beds tightly packed along the beach and hundreds of people enjoying the warm waters of the lagoon.
But it is still possible to get a taste of the wilderness: walk away from where the road ends, wade across the lagoon to the island (a protected nature reserve where no sun beds are allowed). Keep walking a little along the beach and look for a quiet cove. You may not be completely alone but you will have your peace.
Another solution to experience Elafonisi is of course to visit out of season. From late October to April it will probably look as pristine as in the photo above.
The main attraction of Elafonisi is the beautiful sandy beaches fringed with pink coral sand and the crystal clear waters of the sea and the lagoon. As it is located at a remote corner of Crete you also get a sense of wilderness, being far from everything. Unfortunately if you happen to visit at a busy time you won't be far from the hundreds (if not thousands) of people who had the same idea as you that day. But do not despair... you can still escape the crowds by walking a little away from them. Most people are too lazy or unadventurous to venture far from where they parked their car.
Walk to the island! Wade through the knee deep water of the lagoon (sometimes the channel closes and you can walk all the way without having to get your feet wet) and head to the island. There are many small beaches on the South side and the further you walk the quieter it gets. The water is generally quite shallow and safe for children. At the western end of the island there is a promontory with a small lighthouse, and chapel (of very little interest). Being a little higher up you can get some nice views of the whole area.
Coral sand - The pink and red sand that gets deposited along the water's edge is produced by the large amount of red and pink shells that get ground up by sea action.
Plant life and flowers - Elafonisi is a protected area (Natura 2000 site as well as a Micro-Reserve for the protection and study of Androcymbium rechingeri). The small island is home to 110 plant species and is a dream for anyone interested in botany. Most notable are Sea daffodils, Androcymbium rechingeri, Marram grass and endemic Juniper trees.
Amenities for visitors - As you get to Elafonisi by road you will need to drive a short stretch of dirt road down to the sea. This is OK for most cars, just drive slow. There is ample free parking space near the beach. The main beach is more or less taken over by sun beds and umbrellas during the tourist season. There are a couple of beach bars providing drinks and snacks. Free toilets, showers and a few changing cabins are also located nearby.
On the island itself, there is nothing of that sort but the Juniper trees have been roped off (to prevent being disturbed by visitors) and some paths have been marked (especially a path leading to the western tip of the island and the lighthouse that follows close to the rocky north shore) to discourage people wandering about and trampling all over plants.