The Island

 

Immerse yourself in a paradise where crystal-clear waters and sunrises dazzle every moment.

Location

Elafonisos is a splendid Greek island. It is located in the south of the country, or more precisely in the extreme south of the Peloponnese. It is situated in the Gulf of Laconia, near the island of Kythira. Travellers have several options for getting to Athens. By car, the journey takes around 5 hours. By public transport (bus), it takes between 7 and 8 hours.

The 19-kilometer island is at 800 meters from the mainland. A ferry connects the island with the mainland, taking around 12 minutes. However, the number of shuttles operated per day and the timetables depend on the season.

Local population gets to 300 persons in the winter and during June, 700 additional Elafonisiotes come back to the island. During the summer season of July/August, Elafonisos population increases tenfold, reaching sometimes 5000 tourists per day.

The Legend

The island of Elafonisos is steeped in history and myth. For example, even the name Elafonisos comes from a local myth. According to this legend, a boat full of animals passed close to the coast of Elafonisos. From this boat fell a pregnant doe. She then bravely swam to the island to give birth to her fawn. This is how the place came to be called the island of the deer, or Elafonisos in Greek.

The History

The inhabitants of Elafonisos believe themselves to be descendants of pirates, but they are mostly descendants of the Byzantines, Ottomans and Lacedemonians who settled on the island in the past. However, in view of the unattached life led by the pirates, some believe that the island must have been a simple crossing point where bars and taverns mingled. Others believe the pirates simply came to hide their treasures on the island.

The Climate:

The island of Elafonisos has a Mediterranean climate. This means there’s plenty of wind and heat. Thus, we can enjoy a summer landscape all year round. However, this pleasant climate for locals and tourists alike can entail risks such as fires.

The Traditions:

The entire population is Orthodox. We can see evidence of this culture at many points on the island. Firstly, there are 7 chapels and numerous Καλιγούλας (Kaligoulas). These little houses can be found at the side of the road, indicating that a car accident has taken place there. The archpriest of Elafonisos, Papa Niko, takes care of them, repairing and maintaining them. In this way, Papa Niko is a key figure on the island, to whom the inhabitants pay a great deal of attention.

The locals have many religious traditions. For example, before the start of Carem, they gather for a festival they call Carnival. They all dance together and share food and alcohol in anticipation of the 40 days of abstinence.

Then comes Easter. This celebration brings together many traditions, such as the procession. Some people paint hen’s eggs before breaking them against someone else’s egg. Finally, they eat beef soup.

The Island’s gem

The Beach

The 19 km-long island have numerous beaches, each more beautiful than the last. First of all, the town of Elafonisos offers direct access to Kontogoni beach. In front of this beach are cafés and restaurants. Continuing on, we find Kalogeras beach.
Then, 4 kilometers away, on either side of the town, we find two beaches. Simos beach, split in two. And the splendid Panangia beach.
These spaces offer heavenly views, so it’s important to take good care of them!

The Patrimony

Elafonisos is part of Natura 2000 European Network, as well as Stroghyli laguna, shelter of more than 132 bird species and Pavlopetri site which is the world’s most ancient underwater city. This 5,000-year-old city was submerged under water when the Suez Canal was opened. The famous Greek author Thucydides wrote about this city in one of his novels.

The Fauna

The island of Elafonisos have great biodiversity and a highly-developed ecosystem in which numerous species, both large and small, cohabit.

First of all, you can see both land and sea turtles on the island. Sea turtles born on the island return every year to lay their eggs.

You may also spot buzzards. These usually have dark coats to camouflage them from predators. On the island, however, they don’t have predators, so they’re more interested in protecting themselves from the heat with a light coat.

The island is also teeming with insects. On Elafonisos, however, the insects are larger than average. With the island’s ecosystem cut off from the rest of the world, insects need to be ever larger to survive.

Then, Elafonisos is located in the center of numerous migratory corridors between Africa and the Nordic countries. Species such as the Saker falcon, ferocious hawk and alpine swift fly over the island or make a temporary stopover.

Finally, these birds have a major predator on the island: cats. The island is home to many cats imported from the mainland. The islanders don’t adopt them, but take care of them by feeding them or curing them. As a result, Elafonisos is a fairly dry island, home only to small animals such as cats and chickens. Indeed, farmers don’t raise cows, donkeys, etc., as this requires too much water consumption.

The Flore

The island’s land is arid, making it difficult to grow crops that require large quantities of water. This is why the island’s farmers mainly grow olive trees. These plants need little water and lots of sun to thrive. Elafonisos’ climate is perfect for these plants.

As for the remnants of the vegetation, we can see that it has adapted to the weather conditions. Indeed, the island is largely exposed to the wind. So, to adapt and protect themselves, the plants are low to the ground.

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