Elafonissi or Elafonisos, is located at the southwestern tip of the prefecture of Chania in Crete. The crystal clear blue waters with the white sand and the beautiful colors compose an exotic landscape. In many places the sand has an exceptional pink hue, a unique feature of this special beach. The waters are very shallow, which makes the beach ideal for children. The beach is named after an islet located nearby and which is separated from the island of Crete by a narrow strip of sea with warm and shallow water. The islet is about 150 meters far from the shore and it can be reached on foot.
Elafonisi has its own history. At Easter of 1824, 850 people were slaughtered by the Turks. The massacre was carried out purely for reasons of revenge and punishment for the rebellious Cretan people, as the victims were mainly women and children. In February 1907 the Austrian steamship Imperatrix crashed into the reefs that can be found around Elafonissi. 38 people died out of a total of 140 all of them travelling to India. The monks from the monastery of Chrysoskalitissa together with the few inhabitants of the area saved several passengers at that time. To avoid similar tragic events in the future, a high lighthouse was built in Elafonissi that was visible from a long distance and warned sailors to stay away from dangerous rocks. Unfortunately, all the cedars and other trees on the island were sacrificed for the construction of the lighthouse. This lighthouse was destroyed by the German army in World War II and today has been replaced by a modern one. There is also a small church on the islet.
The beach and the wider area are part of the Natura 2000 protection network as it is an ecosystem of exceptional ecological importance. On the coast you will find many areas that have been fenced to protect the vegetation. It is forbidden to touch any of the plants, as the collection of rare pink sand from the shore.
Elafonissi is a very popular destination in the prefecture of Chania and it is located 74 km away from the city of Chania. It gathers thousands of visitors every day and it is good to visit it early in the morning, late in the afternoon or a period when there are not so many tourists. Nearby is the monastery of Chrysoskalitissa, one of the most beautiful monasteries in the prefecture.