Elafonisi Beach is located on Crete Island, Greece, on the southwest coast of Chania. This magnificent pale-pink-colored beach with greenish-blue and turquoise ocean must be a part of everybody’s itinerary to Crete. If you are planning on visiting this magical place, swim in its waters, and sunbathe on the sand, then read on to find a complete guide to visiting Elafonisi Beach.
Why Visit Elafonisi Beach
Elafonisi is one of the most beautiful and popular beaches on Crete Island. The place became famous for its pinkish sand and that’s why it’s also known as Pink Beach. And though many things impact this phenomenon and make its sand turn pastel-pink, regardless of how the sand looks, its waters are still pristine and very inviting on a summer day.
The waters of Elafonisi are calm and perfect for children and grown-ups alike. The main part of the beach where the rental chair and umbrellas are located is very shallow, where you can walk for some time without the water reaching your waist, while the second part of the beach, after the dunes, has perfect water for a swim and to stretch your towel over the sand for sunbathing.
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Where is Elafonisi Beach
It’s possible to reach Elafonisi from the main cities of Crete – Chania, Heraklion, and Rethymno.
Here are the approximate distances:
- Chania: 45 miles
- Rethymno: 80 miles
- Heraklion: 130 miles
Visiting Elafonisi from Heraklion or Rethymno would take from 2 to 4 hours. Since it would be a big stretch and you would miss most of the day commuting, I wouldn’t recommend staying in any of them to visit Elafonisi.
Because of this, the best city to stay in and visit Elafonisi is Chania, where you can reach the beach in around 1,5 hours.
If you’re flying into Crete, the closest airport to Elafonisi is the Chania one that receives international flights from other cities in Europe, such as London and Frankfurt, and the capital of Greece – Athens.
Additionally, Crete is also connected to Athens and other Cyclades islands (Santorini and Mykonos) by ferry with arrivals in either Heraklion or Chania.
Where to stay to visit Elafonisi
With the distances mentioned above, the best places to stay to visit Elafonisi are the towns nearby the beach itself or in Chania, where you’ll have access to restaurants, bars, and many other attractions.
HOTELS NEAR ELAFONISI
- Elafonisi Resort by Kalomirakis Family – located right at the entrance of the beach, this hotel is a perfect option to have an early start and leave before the tours start to arrive.
BEST HOTELS IN CHANIA
- Domes Zeen Chania – for a seaside luxury experience, this is one of the best options. It has a picture-perfect pool, outdoor gym, beach service with chairs and umbrellas, it’s good for families, and is part of the Luxury Collection of hotels. Its sophisticated and comfortable rooms have Byredo amenities, and many have private plunge pools.
- Domes Noruz Chania – another seaside hotel with modern bright rooms featuring private pools. It’s the best option for couples since it’s adults-only and is also part of the Autograph Collection.
- Porto Antico – a historic hotel built in 1659 and is located in the colorful Venetian Harbor of Chania. In this hotel, your rooms can come with views of the Old Town, the port, and the Pharos lighthouse.
- Belmondo Hotel – also in the Venetian Harbor right where many restaurants and taverns are located and with stunning views of Chania’s Old Town.
- Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa – placed in the heart of Chania’s picturesque old town, this authentic 17th-century Venetian mansion has a rooftop terrace overlooking the town and the Venetian Harbor.
You might like to read my full review of Domes Zeen Chania.
Getting to Elafonisi from Chania
Though there are many tour companies in Chania offering day trips to Elafonisi Beach, getting here is relatively easy if you are driving your own or a rental car. In a 1,5-hour drive, you’ll be able to see charming towns along the way and have scenic views of Crete’s mountains.
If you don’t want to drive yourself and prefer to let others take care of the roads for you, you can visit Elafonisi on a tour from Chania.
Also, you can reach Elafonisi Beach by bus from Chania’s Central Bus Station which is close to the Chania Old Market in Old Town. The bus trip takes around 2 hours and you can either visit the station or check out the KTEL website for bus schedules.
Facilities on Elafonisi Beach
On Elafonisi you’ll find beach chairs and umbrella rental services for around €10, depending on the season.
Though you can find canteens at the beach’s entrance serving snacks, sandwiches, and alcoholic/ non-alcoholic beverages, the best option is to pack a picnic and water to bring with you.
There are also bathroom facilities with toilets, where you have to pay a small fee to use them.
Best time to visit Elafonisi Beach, Crete
Like many Greek beaches, the best time to visit Elafonisi Beach is from May to early November. Please have in mind that July and August are very busy and hot months in Crete.
I visited Elafonisi on a weekday in mid-September and had the best time without crowds and perfect weather – I arrived before 9 am and left around 1 pm to see the nearby Kedrodasos Beach (one of the most stunning beaches on Crete Island).
Best tips for visiting Elafonisi Beach
If you feel like the beach itself is too crowded for you, head on to the cove on the other side of the dunes at the end of the beach, where the turquoise waters will be glistening, and the sea invites you for a dip on a hot day. This part is more rustic and doesn’t have any facility such as chair and umbrella rental, so bring your towel to relax by the ocean.
Also, because of its relatively easy access, the beach gets crowded in the middle of the day. It’s better to have an early start, by planning on arriving before 9 am and leaving around noon to Kedrodasos Beach, a nearby beach that is only 10 minutes away and is one of the best beaches on Crete around Chania.
And if you are not planning on having lunch at the beach, be sure to pack enough water and a picnic with snacks and fruits.
Places to see near Elafonisi Beach, Crete
From Elafonisi Beach, drive around one mile to the nearby Kedrodasos Beach, an unspoiled location with neon waters in many shades of turquoise. While Elafonisi gets most of the people, in Kedrodasos you’ll find peace and tranquility, being able to have parts of the beach just to yourself, and even swim in the ocean with very few others. From the off-road parking lot, you have to go down for 10 minutes through an unpaved path to get to the beach, but it’s an easy trail and 100% worth it. For me, Kedrodados was the best beach on Crete.
And about 3 miles from Elafonisi you’ll find the Chrysoskalitissa Monastery offering impressive views of the surrounding area and ocean. Around the monastery, on the main road, you’ll find taverns like Tavern Kochilas which serves Cretan goods such as stuffed zucchini and Cretan salad, and Kosmos Fish Tavern for fresh seafood.
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