Elafonisi is a breathtaking beach.
Located along the South Western coast of Crete, Elafonisi will captivate you with pink sands, turquoise waters and beautiful juniper trees. I recommend reading more info about the beach, but for now… let’s get on with 10 vital tips you need to know before visiting Elafonisi.
1. PLAN YOUR TIME ACCORDINGLY. Depending where you’re coming from, just driving through Topolia Gorge takes about an hour or more. If you are leaving from Chania (which is where one of the two airports on Crete are located), it takes anywhere from 1 ½ to 2 hours until you can place your toes in the sand. This is mainly due to the single lane switch back road you have to drive on.
2. BUS OR BOAT. If you don’t want to drive yourself, you have the option of taking a tour bus or boat. You can take public transportation which departs from several locations in Crete. Click here for the bus departure times/locations or click here for the boat tour schedule.
3. CHECK THE FORECAST! Please, please, PLEASE make sure you check the forecast before traveling to Elafonisi. It gets extremely windy along the South Western coast of Crete, and Elafonisi can be one hell of a sand storm ruining your beach day. Check the forecast at Poseidon System*, and know that if it’s a 5 or higher (based on personal experiences), don’t waste your gas or time… unless you don’t mind it being windy. (*note that the location of Elafonisi on the map is in the lower left corner of Crete… and if that area is shaded blue, you’re good to go.)
4. STOP AT A TAVERNA & HONEY SHACK. In Topolia Gorge, to be exact. The gorge is littered with many small villages, and they have the best traditional Cretan cuisine with organic and local produce, meats and cheeses. Whatever you do, DO NOT eat at the small food shack in Elafonisi. It’s just not the same, unless you want a chilled beer or Ouzo.Also, stop by a honey shack or two. Each shack is privately owned by a village family and their products are hand crafted – so no two shacks are the same. They offer royal jelly, honey, raki (and honey raki – so good!) and olive oil, among other items. I highly recommend supporting the local farmers and villagers – you can’t go wrong with the delicious products they offer!
5. AGIA SOFIA CAVE. Yup. There’s an awesome cave you can climb up to and it’s free of charge (unless you’d like to donate). The steps are steep but it’s well worth it once you get to the top.The cave is located off the right side of the main road in Topolia Gorge under the Romantza Taverna. Once inside the taverna, you can buy small souvenirs, local honey raki and even take a photo with the owner in his traditional Cretan dress attire.Agia Sofia is considered a sacred cave with a tiny church and several shrines located inside. You definitely don’t want to miss it, but be mindful that it can take you anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour if you decide to stop by, grab some lunch and hike to the top.This particular taverna gets pretty busy because the tour busses stop by to see the cave and eat lunch. If you would like something a little more quiet, I suggest trying out another taverna (there are so many) with fewer cars parked around the road. Also, Romantza Taverna does accept major credit cards – but please keep in mind…
6. BRING ENOUGH EUROS. Make sure you bring enough cash to get you through the day. Just like I mentioned here, most tavernas do not accept credit card… so give the mom and pop shop some cash, K?
7. HOTEL IT UP OR GLAMP IT OUT. That’s right. You can park your RV or stay in a hotel right on the beach! Visit the only hotel in Elafonisi and book your stay here. As far as “glamping” goes… I’ve seen small campers parked along the top-level of a large dirt parking lot next to the beach; however, I have yet to find a website discussing overnight parking rules. I do know that camping is prohibited… although I’ve seen tents pitched here and there during the off-season.
8. WIND SURF. Elafonisi is known for amazing wind surfing… hence the high winds that blow through here and the vast amount of crystal-clear waters. You can rent your very own wind surfing gear and even take lessons at the beach!
9. EXPLORE THE SECLUDED SPOTS. Elafonisi is big. Depending what time of year you visit, Elafonisi can either be a vast lagoon with an island or it can be one large stretch of sand with water all around. Check the far right and left parts of the beach, as well as the secluded beach at the far end of the “island” which lies ahead if you’re staring straight out to sea. Many women are known for going topless at Elafonisi, especially in the secluded spots along the coast… which brings us to our last vital tip before your trip…
10. VISIT KEDRODASOS BEACH. It’s a very secluded and “secret” beach with a bumpy and rocky path (for you and your car). Bring plenty of water and food, since there are no tavernas located close by (walking distance). Kedrodasos Beach is located along the right side of Elafonisi and even though they are neighbors, Kedrodasos has its own vibe… some people camp here (I think it’s technically prohibited though) and it’s a great place for “naturalists” (and by naturalists, I mean nudists).
These 10 vital tips should help you when planning your unforgettable trip to Elafonisi. Have you already sunbathed here? Are you planning your trip? Let me know in the comments below!