Its heavenly beaches are among the most famous in the country, while the ecosystem of Elafonisos is so special that it is protected from human activity as a Natura 2000 site. Although it will take you about 4 hours to reach the port of Pounda in the Peloponnese, from where the boats depart for Elafonisos, it is the ideal suggestion for a three-day trip full of beaches, relaxation and good food.
The whole island has an area of 18 square kilometers, 4 small settlements in total and about 750 permanent residents. On the northern tip of the island is Chora, a scattered settlement with traditional and a few more modern houses with beautiful courtyards, well-kept alleys, some accommodation, while the coastal road is full of cafes and taverns. The other three settlements of the island – Kapari just after the port settlement, Lefki with the famous beach of Simos and Kato Nisi with the wonderful beach of Panagia – are even smaller.
From there it’s time for the first dive of the day. Head down south to the beach of Simos: White fine sand, turquoise waters and high sand dunes at the back. The unique beauty of the landscape, the endemic flora and the rare sand dunes are some of the reasons why Elafonisos was included in the European Natura 2000 network as a protected area. The long beach is always busy and it is worth seeing it early in the morning.
Elafonisos has six hiking trails and three cycling routes, despite its small size. So if you are a lover of exploration and adventure, you can see the island inch by inch, discovering its best hidden secrets, such as the cave of Simos, which legend says gave birth to the entire island. The cave is located above the homonymous beach and requires a short climb of about 20 minutes. The view, however, will be rewarding. All of the island’s routes are mapped and included in the Elafonisos topoGuide app.
The most important attraction of Elafonisos, however, is none other than the submerged ancient settlement at Pavlopetri. It is located in the underwater area between the beautiful beach of Pounda and the islet of Pavlopetri, northeast of Elafonisos. It is a unique state of its kind, as its design is still intact today. It is one of the oldest submerged polities in the world and includes intact floor plans of building complexes, streets and courtyards. A mask and a pair of flippers are all you need to get a taste of the magic of an ancient sunken city that is said to have inspired the myth of lost Atlantis.