Considering how remote Elafonisi is, 75 kilometers (47 miles) southwest of Chania over difficult and occasionally hair-raising roads, it is a pretty well-organized place. There are sunbeds and beach umbrellas, two small beach bars, toilets and even lifeguards in season. There’s also a hut where you can rent kitesurfing kit.
Don’t get complacent about finding everything you need, though. Most visitors report that the WC’s are dirty to the point of abysmal. The beach bars, one on the beach and the other in one of the free parking areas, are small and basic. In fact, they are too small to serve the hundreds of tourists disgorged from the tourist buses that arrive throughout the day.
If you don’t arrive early, you may have difficulty finding beach umbrellas or sources of shade. Bring cover-ups and sunhats, just in case. And if this is a family visit, with children who require an endless supply of drinks and snacks, plan on bringing a good supply of those as well.
Food and Drink
There are two basic beach bars near the beach. Canteen Kukurakis on the edge of the eastern parking area has snacks, ice creams, toilet facilities, and cold drinks. Further up the unpaved road away from the beach is Panorama. It’s a bar with a similar offering, plus alcoholic beverages. When the beach is crowded, you will have to wait a long time to be served at either. Nobody recommends the very average food at Panorama, but this bar is worth a daytime visit because it has a terrific view. Stop here for a drink on the terrace and take in a wide-angle view of the beach, the lagoon and the island beyond.
If you are looking for more substantial food (and cleaner restrooms), the Taverna Kalomirakis Family is part of the Elafonisi Resort and is popular for its seafood and traditional Greek food. It’s also received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor. It’s about half a mile from the beach, or about a 10-minute walk. Travelers also recommend Innachorion, a restaurant with rooms about 1 kilometer (1/3 mile) from the beach for a traditional Cretan meal.
A mini-market just across the road from Innachorion is a good place to pick up snacks, drinks, basic groceries, suntan lotion and beach toys on your way to the sand.
Where to Stay
Because Elafonisi is somewhat remote, the town of Chania is at least an hour and a half or more by car, so you might want to stay overnight. After the last crowds from the tour buses leave, it’s actually a rather quiet place, ideal for a family vacation.
The Elafonisi Resort by the Kalomirakis Family caters well for family groups. It has rooms above their taverna and in several other buildings scattered around an olive grove and among their citrus trees. The rooms have kitchenettes and air conditioning.
When to Go
It’s a beautiful beach, but it’s often crowded. The beach is exposed to strong winds in the spring, so if you go early in April and May, the windblown sand can be unpleasant. During the height of the summer season, the beach is crowded until the day trippers and coach tours leave. The ideal time is the early autumn. In September and October, both the weather and the waters of the lagoon are likely to be gentle and warm. Exploring the nature reserve on the island is still possible in November, but you may have to wade through cold, knee-deep water to get there.