31 Jul Exploring Elafonisi Island : Crete, Greece
Like most beautiful places, the journey to get there is just as breathtaking as the final destination. Elafonisi was no different. We drove in from Chania on the north side of the island. The road crosses a rugged and scenic mountain, winds through a tunnel barely wide enough for one car, and eventually drops down to a stunning natural landscape. Along the mountainside drive, there are a handful of beautiful villages and towns that you must weave through. Each one offers a quaint cafe or a small shop where you can purchase local honey, olives, and spices. The people are friendly, the views are incredible, and you haven’t even made it to Elafonisi.
Once you pull into the entrance of Elafonisi, a few large parking lots remind you that you are indeed in a popular and heavily touristed location. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful one. On this particular day, a few perfectly timed storms and a little optimism provided us a nearly desolate playground. Intense rain pounded the area all morning along with strong winds and dark skies. The temperature dropped drastically and we were warned against setting out for the beach. Against recommendations, we loaded up the car and began our drive to Elafonisi; our fingers crossed that the other side of the island was experiencing better weather.
As we neared the beach, the rain turned to a drizzle and a few minutes later the clouds receded out over the ocean. The dreary conditions encouraged many tourists to stay home that day, so we only had to share this Greek paradise with a handful of people. We wandered around the main beach, then walked over a sandbar connecting a small island at low tide. We were greeted by light pink sand, sprawling vistas, mountains framing the background, large boulders pockmarked with small crevices brimming with colorful marine life, and gentle water in beautiful hues of blue. As the day carried on, people began gathering on the shore with picnic baskets, wine, paddle boards, and cameras. The further you walked, the more beautiful the beach, and the fewer distractions.
When we finally decided to leave our pink-sand oasis, we drove around the area exploring stunning ruins and admiring wild goats. Between the beach, the drive, and the surrounding area, you could very easily spend an entire day exploring. We watched as the sun started to set behind us and tried to take in as much of the natural beauty as possible. Making sure to save enough light for the hair-raising drive back to Chania, we hit the road before nightfall. To anyone planning a trip to Elafonisi, plan extra time for the drive. You’ll want to pull off at every small town along the way. Always plan a little extra time to wander around.