When it comes to bucket-list swimming spots in Crete, Elafonisi beach makes quite a case for being right at the top. On some days it’s connected to the coastline of southwestern Crete, and on others it’s an island you can easily wade to through knee-deep water. One way or another, you’ll find an exotic paradise of fine white and pink sand (coloured by crushed shells), shallow turquoise water and gorgeous little coves. People come from all over Crete to see what all the fuss is about.
Protected within the Natura 2000 environmental network, the island of Elefonisi contains only sand dunes and more than 100 rare plants, including summer-flowering sea daffodils that look like white cups.
While the organised mainland side of Elafonisi beach can get busy during the peak season, you can easily find yourself a hidden bay to lie in or wallow in the shallows. The sand extends for some distance along the 1km coastline, with the small church of Agia Irini and a lighthouse at the far end.
It’s safe for swimming and snorkelling and has been awarded a Blue Flag for environmental cleanliness. Water sports are popular where the lagoon widens. But mostly, spending a day at Elafonisi beach is about relaxing and enjoying a beautiful landscape. Your kids (and Instagram feed) won’t stop thanking you.
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