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Crete beach voted best hideaway

- by Jeremy Guest

Crete beach voted best hideaway.

BBC travel writers have voted the remote west Crete beach of Elafonisi as one of the top five 'undiscovered' beaches of Europe. Travel editors have included the Crete beach in its list of the most beautiful 'secret hideaways' – great beaches that have not been spoiled by tourism.

Elafonisi beach is located on the south-west coast of Crete and the pristine beach sand bars and rock formations were once hardly ever visited.

Although the BBC travel writers enthuse about it's remoteness you will be lucky to find it empty of tourists these days.

Things have changed since Elafonisi was 'discovered' in the late 90's and, although it now gets visited by throngs of day trippers by bus and boat from resorts all over west Crete. It is hardly an away-from-it-all experience.

Nevertheless Elafonisi beach is a very beautiful spot. The sands at Elafonisi beach take on a pinkish hue from the coral growing there while there is huge variety, from wide open sands to clusters of rock pools and hidden coves.

Many visitors wade out across the lagoon to the offshore islet linked to the coast by a huge sand bar. On the islet is a small plaque in memory of the 600 Greek women and children slaughtered by the Turks there in 1824.

Along the shore are secluded coves ideal for sunbathing naturists. The Elafonisi area is rich in rare plants and animals and it's also a breeding grounds for sea turtles and the last European stop for migrating flocks of birds on their way to and from Africa.

The other four "well kept secrets" of Europe were beaches on Scotland's Isle of Harris, the Côte Sauvage on the west coast of France, the Bidderosa beach in Sardinia and Cala Varques beach on Mallorca.

Unfortunately the website report on Elafonisi Crete is not accessible to UK as it is part of the BBC's international service and so it's not funded by the licence fee.