Cars will be banned from Elafonisi, one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete and Greece, following a decision by the local council to ease congestion and protect the environment.
“We need to respect the environment and put some order in an anarchic situation,” the mayor of Kissamos Giorgos Mylonakis said.
By the decision of the municipal council, the entry of vehicles into the environmentally protected zone is now prohibited.
Visitors will leave their vehicles at a distance of 500-600 meters, in a parking lot that will operate for this purpose. Few exceptions concern fire and hospital vehicles or disabled people who will travel by electric car.
As for the tourist buses, they will also park in the parking lot. Mylonakis said Elafonisi, along with the beaches of Balos and Falasarna need protection.
Last year Elafonisi was voted among the top 10 best in Europe according to thousands of travelers voting at the European Best Destinations travel site.
Elafonisi in Crete: white sand and turquoise water
Elafonisi is an oblong peninsula, located 75 km from Chania, Crete, which is full of sand dunes with sea daffodils.
The Natura 2000 protected area is separated from the Cretan shore by a lagoon, giving the impression of being a separate island.
The endangered loggerhead sea turtle and several more rare animals and plants find shelter on the island; the removal of any plants, animals, shells, or sand from the area is strictly forbidden.
Exotic beaches with white sand and turquoise water, reminding one of the Caribbean, are formed on either side of the peninsula. The sand is pinkish in many places as a result of the millions of crushed shells.
Near the breaking point of the peninsula, the seawater is no deeper than one meter in depth, creating a small lagoon.
It has become a very popular destination for day-trippers who flood to this corner of paradise by car, bus or boat. Its main attraction to most tourists is the unique feeling of being in a South Seas lagoon whilst having a Mediterranean holiday.
Unfortunately, the popularity of Elafonisi has removed another main factor in its attraction: the wild beauty of a deserted place. In summer you will find sun beds tightly packed along the beach and thousands of people enjoying the warm waters of the lagoon.
But it is still possible to get a taste of the wilderness: walk away from where the road ends, and wade across the lagoon to the island (a protected nature reserve where no sun beds are allowed). Keep walking a little along the beach and look for a quiet cove. You may not be completely alone but you will have your peace.