A tiny island, 18 kilometers wide, with one of the most famous beaches of Peloponnese- if not of the entire Greece- Elafonisos wasn’t always an island: Pausanias refers to it as a peninsula, called “Onu Gnathos” due to its peculiar shape that reminded of… a donkey’s jaw (Onu Gnathos in Greek). The Venetians wrote it on their 15th century maps as Tservi, and called Kithira Tsirigo. However, Elafonisos was not inhabited back then. It was inhabited much later, in 1850 by decision of King Othon, who wanted to save that piece of land from the English that already had the Ionian Islands.
It would only take a few minutes by ferry boat to get you from Pounta to this small, sea paradise. You get off the boat to the only settlement of the island, which is also called Elafonisos, with the few houses (600 residents in the entire island) lining up on the waterfront and being adorned with absolutely blue, island windows and totally… red, Epirotic (from Epirus) roof tiles. Along the coastal path, cafés and fish taverns spread their tables.
The coastal strolling ends up to the white, small church of Agios Spyridon, built on a tiny island that is connected through a bridge with the rest of Elafonisos. Saint Spyridon was built in 1858 and till today is one of the most loved strolls for both locals and visitors, especially during the sunset that is incredible. The amazing view of the sun setting in the sea you can also enjoy at the sandy Kontogoni beach, right behind the settlement.
What steals the show from everyone and everything in Elafonisos is definitely the many times sang Simos beach. It is one of the most exotic beaches in the entire Greece, with fine like powder, almost white sand, shallow green- blue waters, sand dunes on which white lilies grow, and a vast area of two kilometers that saves room for everyone- for those who like organized beaches, and for those who want their peace and are fine with walking a bit more to find it.
Simos beach is divided by a thin strip of sand, which in turn ends up in an even more impressive dune, to two beaches: The one is big, organized and more popular, called Sarakiniko, while the other is smaller, quieter and with slightly less impressive waters, called Fragos beach. Whichever you choose, the most certain is that here you’ll spend the biggest part of your trip to Elafonisos.
The more adventurous types will climb the path to Simos cave, at the 85 meters above the beach, to see from up close this strange slit in the rocks that local tradition says the whole island was born from. The route is tiring and the climb takes almost twenty minutes, but the view to Sarakiniko that spreads down from there takes your breath away and make it worth the trouble.
Simos might be the island’s “superstar”, but Elafonisos has many more other beaches that worth your time and the dive. The small Lefkis beach, very close to Simos that is its peaceful, mini version with the same white sand, the same turquoise waters and the complete lack of organization that ruined the landscape. It is also the ideal windless alternative on the days that Simos beach is windy and with waves.Another impressive beach is the one of Panagia, or Lower Island beach, on the west of Elafonisos, at the feet of a beautiful cedar forest that gently ends up on its white sand. A small part of it, out of the 1.200 meters that is spread, is organized and has amazing turquoise waters. Is enjoys the view of the setting sun behind the three small islands of Panagia (Elli, Kasella and Gaidouronisi) that engulf it. Above the beach, the white red tiled church of Panagia Katonisiotissa that named the beach and the surrounding islands across it, definitely worth a visit