The fortunate ones have seen Elafonisi many years back, when it was still a pristine place restricted to those willing to get uncomfortable to reach it: endless dunes, crystal turquoise waters– like the ones we see in exotic card postals – shells and pink patches on the white sand and a shallow sea “corridor” that led to the islet. In other words and without exaggeration, it was a small isolated paradise on earth.
Unfortunately this image of Elafonisi belongs to the past. The islet might be at its place, as well as the crystal turquoise waters, but the landscape has changed dramatically: an army of sunbeds is lined up from one side to the other, “violated” sand, thousands of tourists and a few fenced dunes remain like open air museum exhibits.
The good news is that even if you haven’t seen Elafonisi before the…barbarian invasions, you will still love the landscape. Plus, if you are not interested in simply sunbathing on the first sunbed you find in front of you, you can walk across to the islet and find a quieter sandy corner to lie down. If you walk a little more, you will find dunes and sand lilies, pink patches on the sand and everything else that convinced you to visit Elafonisi in the first place.
Assuming that you are eager to discover the hidden beauties of Crete like us, we invite you to take your water-and-snacks supplies, find the E4 trail and prepare to walk on one of the most beautiful coastal E4 routes.
As you leave Elafonisi behind you, the tourist buzz fades away but the exotic landscape remains: small isolated coves appear on the way, tempting you to stop before you reach your destination.
You will locate the not-so-visible trail east of the beach of Elafonisi, at the trailer house resort (!). There are some signs to guide your walk on the way, including piles of rocks. Anyhow, your aim is to walk parallel to the coastline. As you leave Elafonisi behind, the tourist buzz fades away but the exotic landscape remains. Small isolated coves with spectacular waters appear on your way all the time, tempting you to take a swim in each and everyone of them. Continue walking between rocks and bushes, while the fresh air brings the scent of herbs to your nostrils.
Soon you will see the first cedar trees and dunes that welcome you to a rare ecosystem, a cedar forest. There is no human civilization here: no canteens, no sunbeds. Instead, there are centuries old cedar trees, sand dunes, coves with crystal clear waters, and –of course- lovers of free camping. Enjoy a swim surrounded by the beauty of pristine nature and seek a nice cedar shade to rest. Then take the trail all the way back, preferably at sunset, when the landscape is painted orange and Elafonisi finds some peace.