You can spend the day either on Elafonisi beach on Crete or directly opposite on the island of Elafonisi. In summer very warm water flows between Crete and Elafonisi. The island of Elafonisi is about 1.3 km long and 400 meters wide. The island is under strict conservation. The leaving of the paths, leaving garbage behind, starting a fire, camping etc. are strictly forbidden. In no case you should enter the fenced areas.
On the island there are several footpaths. Interesting are some places on the other side of the island Elafonisi, which faces the open sea. Here you can find a wooden cross, which reminds of a shipwreck. In 1908 an Austrian passenger ship sank here, about 40 people died. A few meters further, a small chapel with a monument recalls a Turkish massacre in 1828. The Turks were said to have murdered over 600 Greeks on the island. A little further on is a nice lighthouse.
On the island itself there is nothing to buy. You should bring water. On the other side (on the main island Crete) there is a large parking lot with some tavernas and small shops. They are only open during the season. There is no village in the area, just some houses. Some locals also rent rooms to tourists.
In winter almost everything is closed. Elafonisi means "deer island". Where the name comes from is not quite clear. Deer do not live on Crete.
Almost everybody who comes to Elafonissi for the first time is impressed by the beauty of the beach. It could remind you of a Caribbean commercial. In photos the dream beach of Crete is often not so great, you have to see it with your own eyes. Especially the different blue coulors and the light beach look remarkable beautiful. This is only the case when the sun shines. Without sunshine you see more are less just a normal beach.
How to get to Elafonissi
Most tourists arrive by car. Huge car parks offer space for hundreds of cars. In addition there are daily excursion buses. In all tourist resorts in the west of Crete, day trips to Elafonissi ar offered. From Paleochora there is a ferry service. In the morning the ship brings the tourits from Paleochora to Elafonisi and returns in the afternoon. In high saison, the small ferry sometimes even runs several times a day. It is a passenger ferry (no cars). A regular bus service runs every day from Chania, from Kastelli-Kissamos and from Paleochora to Crete's dream beach. All public transport operates only in summer. In winter, only a few people live in the area. All the tavernas etc. are closed in winter. There is no village or town in this area of Crete. Next along the coast is Falassana.
Bus schedule Elafonisi (May 2018): Every Monday, Wendesday and Friday a bus departs from Chania to Elefanissi at 10 am. At 4 pm the bus returns to Hania. The price for a ticket is €5.50 one way, the bus ride takes about 2 hour one way. Since 2015 there is also a bus from Paleochora to Elafonissi. It also leaves at 10 o'clock in Paleochora and goes back at 4 o'clock. The travel time is 1.5 hours, so you have 3.5 hours time in Elafonissi. The price is a little bit cheaper than from Chania: 5 euros. On the map the distance looks quite short. But there is no road along the coast, the bus must do a detour through the mountains.
The monastery Chrissoskalitissa (literally translated as "golden little stair") is one of the most famous monasteries in Crete. It is currently only inhabited by 1 or 2 monks. As in many monasteries in Greece, Chrissoskalitissa gets no young monks anymore. The monastery is known for a single staircase, which leads up to Chrissoskalitissa - according to a legend, one step is made of pure gold. The story is, as I said, only a legend.
But even without the golden step the monastery Chrissoskalitissa is interesting for visitors. The snow-white monastery buildings, high above the sea, can be visited daily. You can not enter Chrissoskalitissa in short pants or miniskirts. There is also a small, interesting museum in Chrissoskalitissa. The Monastiri (Greek word for monastery) is located 6 km north of Elafonisi near the road to Hania (signposted). The bus Hania - Elafonisi stops here. On Assumption of Mary (15th August, important holiday on Crete), thousands of Cretans come to Chrissoskalitissa to a big festival (worth seeing).
The author: My name is Jorgy. I am German and I have been living in Crete for more than 10 years. I translated this article from German into English. I am not a native English speaker. When I find a proofreader, the quality of the article will improve. If you know somebody who wants to help me, please write me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org