The Greek Maldives – The pink paradise of Elafonisi on the island of Crete

Locals call this unique beach with fine sand, pink in some places, the Greek Maldives or the pink paradise. The exotic beach with fine sand and turquoise water attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world.The place is ranked among the most beautiful beaches in the world! And that’s definitely for a reason!

The easiest and fastest way to get to this unique place is by plane. The flight from Sofia Airport to the pearl of the island of Crete – the town of Chania, takes only an hour and a half. Two of the low-cost airlines operating in Bulgaria offer flights to this destination. To get to Elafonisi, which is 76 kilometres to the west of Chania, it is best to rent a car. My advice is to book a car as early as possible before your holiday, because prices are a fraction of what you will get at the last minute. You also have the option to take a bus from the central bus station of the city, with the return ticket to Elafonisi priced at 20 Euro.

Elafonisi is an elongated peninsula that is often divided by water into two parts, giving the impression of a separate island. The water is shallow and does not exceed 1 meter. The place is a nature reserve and a protected area of Natura 2000 because of its unique flora and fauna. The small peninsula is home to 110 plant species and is a dream for anyone interested in botany. The most notable of them are the sea daffodils, marram grass and endemic juniper trees.

The unique pink sand from millions of crushed shells and corals that is deposited along the coast is one of the most impressive things that attracts tourists. The area is windy very often. But it is the wind that has shaped the extremely beautiful sand dunes where beautiful and rare plants grow. You won’t see any concrete around here. Just nature and romantic views. The Greeks have preserved such wonderful places and it is the absence of hotels that makes them so desirable for a holiday. If you cross the vast lagoon, you will reach, I would say, the most beautiful beaches with azure colours and no crowds. If you wish to be completely secluded or want to bathe naked, this is the right place. It’s full of quiet, wild and peaceful little coves here, where you can swim as much as you want. The real charm of Elafonisi is precisely the seclusion and distance from the hubbub of tourists. You have so many choices. Dozens of coves where you can rest. Be sure to bring masks and snorkels, because the underwater world is worth seeing.

We met underwater near the rocks in one of the coves. I didn’t have an appointment. The interview was to the point – brief, clear and without unnecessary pleasantries. He tried to steal my camera for a second, but didn’t succeed. I’ve only seen this intelligent creature on a plate. I’ve never tasted it, and after this real-life rendezvous, I definitely will not. The feeling of being so close to him is incredible!

At the end of the beach is the high hilly area of Agia Irini (Saint Irene), named after the picturesque chapel, with an endless view of the sea. Wild thyme grows a lot in the area, and its scent dances all over the beach. The colours of the water are magnificent and flow in all shades of blue. The stones and rocks beneath the sea are like a puzzle arranged by nature. In ancient times, there was a sanctuary on the island dedicated to the Muses of Apollo, as the ancients believed that the Muses calmed the raging sea with their music.

5 km to the north of Elafonisi is the monastery of Chrisoskalitissa, erected and fortified on a high rock. According to legend, the last rung of the staircase leading to the monastery is golden coloured, but can only be seen by those who truly believe in God. The sunsets seen from here are magical.

Elafonisi on the island of Crete – a destination you will instantly fall in love with and will want to come back to again! That’s what I did. For the fourth consecutive year, I chose the pink paradise for my summer holiday!

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