Remote Elafonisi is a stunning beach tucked into Crete’s southwestern corner, with a swirl of fine pinkish-white sand, turquoise water and gentle dunes. A string of semi-secluded coves stretches out beyond the long, wide strand where Elafonisi Islet lies, easily reached by wading through 50m of knee-deep water and occasionally connected to the mainland by a thin, sandy isthmus. The entire area is part of Natura 2000, the EU environmental-protection program.
The raw natural beauty of Elafonisi is no secret and hordes of sunseekers descend on the beach in peak summer, putting pressure on its delicate ecosystem. It's best to visit either early or late in the day; better yet, stay overnight in one of the few hotels to truly sample Elafonisi’s magic.