On my first day in Chania Crete, I went on a road trip to the South-west of the island, to explore the lagoon and beach Elafonisi. The drive from my hotel took about 1.5-2 hours despite it being only 50 km. Reason is that you have to drive through the mountains and small idyllic Greek villages. It’s a wonderful road trip that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. I decided to drive straight to Elafonisi lagoon and beach, and stop at the different villages on the way back. So my first stop was Elafonisi.
Elafonisi lagoon and beach
I would recommend going very early to avoid the crowds. Elafonisi draws many tourists. By the time they arrive you will have enjoyed the turquoise waters and peace, and can move on to the rest of your road trip. Elafonisi is an island that is partly beach with deep waters, and partly lagoon where you only go ankle deep. The sand is white and powdery and the water crystal clear and turquoise. Via the lagoon or the strip of dry land you can cross to the dunes and Voulismeni beach. In the dunes you’ll see beautiful white flowers and it is a great spot to take photos of the lagoon from above. Some parts of Elafonisi are very quiet while others, (where there are umbrellas and loungers) are packed.
A 5 minute drive from the beach and lagoon you can visit the Monastery Chrisoskalitissa. It is an orthodox monastery that was built in the 17th century. Built up on rocks some 35 metres high, it overlooks the Libyan Sea. The monastery is dedicated to the Holy Trinity (“Agia Triada”) and the Dormition of Virgin Mary. Although it’s small, it is worth a short visit. You have beautiful panoramic views from the monastery, and can admire the interior and heirlooms that were preserved.
On the way back to Chania I stopped at the village Elos for a late lunch. It’s a quaint little village with an adorable church, a few restaurants and a bakery. I also made a quick stop in Topolia, an artistic village with a white church tower as focal point. The road to and from Elafonisi is beautiful with huge mountain and rock formations. At one point you have to go through a small one-lane tunnel. Very adventurous! Along the road you will encounter many local beekeepers and olive farmers selling their honey, oils and olive tapenades.