All about Elafonissi beach

elafonissi beach

Elafonissi is a small, thin sand islet in the prefecture of Chania on Crete. It covers about one square kilometer and it consists of sand only. The beach itself stretches over 4 kilometers in length and it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in Crete together with Balos Beach. It is also the most photographed location in Chania. The sand is so fine and white that it squeaks under your feet.

How Elafonissi beach gets its name?

The name “Elafonissi” derives from the word “Elaphos” which means deer in Greek since according to legend, deer used to drink water from the small lagoon on the island. Another version of the name’s origin could be from the word “Elaphos” which means stone in Greek since there is a small pretty church on top of the hill near Elafonissi having this name “Lefkos Pyrgos” (translates to Deer Stone).

According to another story, the island was formed from the sand of a shipwreck. In ancient times, a warship carrying metal intended for the building of Apollo’s temple got wrecked and sank off the coast near Elafonissi. As time went on, an enormous pile of metal debris washed onto the shore and formed today’s little islet.

How to go to Elafonissi beach?

A bird flying in the sky

Elafonissi is accessible by boat or on foot. It takes about an hour to reach the island on foot from the small harbor of Kalyves, where excursion boats regularly depart. The boat ride along the rough northern coast of Crete offers views of rock formations, hidden coves, and little beaches with pebbles of all colors that create quite an unusual picture.

How to get there on foot?

From Kalyves, head north along the national highway. There are clear signs pointing toward Elafonissi. A dirt road takes you to a small parking lot where the excursion boats depart from. From here it’s just a short walk through olive groves and farmland until you reach the beach. There’s no shade on Elafonissi so it’s not advisable to attempt the walk there and back in the same day.

What is Elafonissi and what can you do on this island?

The island of Elafonissi is a thin strip of land covered by coarse sand, which is separated from the Cretan mainland by a small channel of the sea. The island has an area of about one km² and its shape resembles that of deer’s antlers, which gave it is name “Elafonissi” (meaning “deer’s island”). Apart from its staggering beauty, Elafonissi doesn’t have many entertainment facilities. There are no cafes, hotels, or restaurants on the island. The only services available are a few sunshades and mattresses for hire and a couple of water taps where people fill their barrels with fresh drinking water.

What are the opening hours?

The island of Elafonissi opens at sunrise and closes at sunset.

How long does it take to get from Chania to Elafonissi?

Elafonissi is about 35 km away from Chania. It takes about 1 hour to get there by car or taxi and about 30 minutes by boat.

What’s the distance between Chania and Elafonissi beach?

The distance between Chania and Elafonissi beach is about 35 km. It takes about 1 hour to get there by car or taxi and about 30 minutes by boat.


Elafonissi is a magical beach and we recommend you to visit it. Its location, nature, and beauty will leave you speechless. Elafonissi beach is different from others because it is a small island made of sand that is located between the mainland and another island. It also has white sand that squeaks under your feet. Elafonissi is also accessible by foot or boat and has very few services available. Lastly, it is a beautiful beach with a marvelous view.

Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter
Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter