Elafonisi: the pink pearl of Crete


Dear reader, can you believe this color? No? Neither can I, even after taking this photo myself.

Image© Stanito, 2012

This is the Elafonisi Beach, in the southern coast of Crete. The name Elafonisi, Ελαφονήσι, means “Deer Island” in Greek, this is because according to the myth the island belonged to the hunter goddess Artemis, whom loved to hunt and running surrounded by deers, her most sacred animal. It was only a shrine for veneration though as the goddess was never on islands but instead prefered mountains and hills.

The place is obviously filled with stories, but the first thing you need to know is that the sand there is pink!

Image© Stanito, 2012

The reason why the sand is pink is due to coral fragments, coral dust that mixed with the golden sand creates this beautiful color.

A more traditional view would say that the sand is pink because of the bloody massacre that took place on the island. The sand kept a the color as a reminder of Easter 1824, where 850 women and children found refuge in Elafonisi when hiding from Turkish soldiers. Eventually the soldiers found them and massacrated them, and the sea kept traces of their blood

Image© Stanito, 2012

Image© Stanito, 2012

Image© Stanito, 2012

In May you will find that this desolated beautiful beach is desert, but please do not take this as reference as June-August will witness this beach packed with tourists

Image© Stanito, 2012

In front of us, Artemis Island. Tiny piece of earth that you can reach by simply crossing over with water up to your knees. On Artemis Island you will find the remainings of a very small antique shrine dedicated to the goddess

Image© Stanito, 2012

stanito© Stanito, 2012

Image© Stanito, 2012

The Chrysoskalitisa Monastery, dedicated to the Virgin Mary is the most remote monastery on Crete. Χρυσοσκαλιτίσσης, means Golden Step in Greek, this is because its stairs has 90 steps, having only one made of gold.

Stanito searched very carefully for the golden step, leaving behind her travel companions, hoping to at least find it to say “Look, I found it! It was worth it leaving you guys back”, but that unfortunately didn’t happen…

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