Elafonisi (also Elafonissi) is the most famous beach of Crete
, ranking in world top beaches. It is an islet with sand spit which forms tiny lagoons depending on the sea level. The sand spit is so close to mainland that you can easily walk to the islet, sometimes without even getting your feet wet (when the islet becomes peninsula). The water around Elafonisi is very shallow, with turquoise color of the sea and white-pink sand. The pink hue is due to the miniature particles of sea shells and it may vary from pale to dark pink. The islet itself is almost flat and consists mainly of low sand dunes. At its far end stands the tiny chapel of Agia Irini.
Elafonisi lies in southwest Crete, 42 km from Kissamos
port and 72 km from Chania Town
, accessible via winding coastal road or inland mountainous route. The islet and the beach are part of Natura 2000 protected area so construction is not developed here but some beach facilities are available in the summer - there is a canteen for snacks and drinks, as well as sunbeds and parasols in a few places. Behind the beach a large parking space is available. There is only one small hotel with rooms to rent just next to the parking, two mini markets and three tavernas (one is part of the hotel). More hotels and restaurants can be found 6 km away from Elafonisi, around the Monastery of Chryssoskalitissa.
Note that there is an island called Elafonisos
and both are sometimes confused because of the common name and the fact they are islands. In contrast to Elafonisi of Crete, the island near Peloponnese is much larger and inhabited.