Elafonissos (sometimes spelled Elafonisos) is a tiny island in the southern Peloponnese known for its complete relaxation. The name means “island of the deer.” It has Carribean-like beaches with gold sand and clear waters. Simos and Lefki beach are well-known as the top beaches of the island. The evening time is a great time to head to town for a taverna dinner and a drink as you watch the sunset. The island should not be confused with Elafonisi, which is an even smaller island off the west coast of Crete.
What is Elafonissos Like?
The island is fairly small and has a population of 750 permanent inhabitants. The capital of Elafonissos carried the same name as the island. The port is on the northern coast of the island. The small village has small white houses, red-tile roofs, and narrow alleys. While it is a small island, there are plenty of places to stay, and many pleasant cafes along the water.
Getting to Elafonissos
The island of Elafonisos doesn’t have an airport, so getting there by ferry is the only option. Boats leave from the port of Pounta, which is close to Neapoli. You can reach the port town of Pounta by car or by intercity bus (KTEL) to Neapoli from Athens.
Beaches on Elafonissos
This is considered one of the top beaches in the region. It is easy to reach by car and the beach is split into 2 parts: Megalos Simos and Mikros Simos. Megalos Simos, living up to its name, is the longest beach in Elafonissos, and Mikros Simos is just a short walk away. A narrow strip of sand divides the 2 beaches. Take note if you are traveling with family that Mikros Simos sometimes has nudists.
The island of Elafonissos does not have buses, so Lefki beach is reachable by car. From the main village, it is about 5 kilometers. Lefki has a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere and bright sand with pristine turquoise waters. It’s an ideal spot to sunbathe and take in the beauty of the mediterranean.
Celebrations on Elafonissos
July 6th to 9th
Elafonissos honors the day when the island officially joined Greece on July 6th, 1850 with a 3 day event. It lasts until July 9th because this is the same day when the Holy Temple of Saint Spyridon was opened. During the celebrations, you can witness the Festival of Traditional Dances, with folk dancing groups both from Greece and abroad.
This is one of the biggest holidays of the year all over Greece, and it celebrates the Virgin Mary (Panagia). There is a church service and everybody celebrates afterwards with traditional Greek food and wine. Of course, there is music and dancing. The day before the feast, many young people come with boats from Kythira island and Mani to celebrate with the local population.
Feast of the Fisherman
In the last 10 days of August, Elafonissos organizes a fish feast that features local folk dance demonstrations, live music, and wine. The feast is designed to welcome visitors and to wish for calm seas.