With crystal-clear turquoise waters and rosy-hued sand, Elafonissi Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island of Crete. The best way to get there from other points on the island is by driving. While local roads are windy and narrow, they are not dangerous, and you'll enjoy beautiful views of the countryside along the journey.
Distance: 46 miles (75 km) / Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Driving from Chania to Elafonissi Beach, the roads are well-paved but narrow, especially around small towns and the Topolia Gorge. The total driving time is about 1.5 hours. Your best bet is to depart early in the morning from Chania (ideally by 8 am) to avoid getting stuck behind buses making the same trip to Elafonissi. Another option is to leave Chania around midday, stopping to have a leisurely lunch in the village of Elos and enjoy Cretan dishes at a traditional tavern. You could also take time to visit the cave of Agia Sofia along the way. The cave features a picturesque chapel and is filled with incredible stalactites and stalagmites. With these stops along the journey, you'll arrive at Elafonissi around 3 or 4 pm.
Alternatively, you could take the bus from Chania, which takes about two hours. There's one bus that leaves daily at 9 am from the KTEL Chania bus station in the center of town. The bus follows the same scenic route that you would take if you were driving yourself. If you're interested in making the return journey, the same bus departs Elafonissi at 4 pm. Better yet, watch the sunset at Elafonissi, spend the night in a beach hotel and return to Chania the following day.
For more on what to see and do around the island, check out the Best Things to Do on Crete.
Distance: 84 miles (135 km) / Duration: 2.5 hours
From Rethymno, it's a 2.5-hour drive to Elafonissi Beach. While possible to do as a day trip, it's a lot of driving if you need to return to Rethymno the same day. If you have an extra day to spare, consider driving from Rethymno to Balos Beach, then continuing on to a small village in the mountains (Milia Mountain Retreat is an excellent option for an overnight stay). Then you can go to Elafonissi Beach early on day two and spend the day there before heading back to Rethymno in the early evening.
Learn more about the best time to visit Crete here.
Distance: 132 miles (211 km) / Duration: 3.5 hours
The drive from Heraklion to Elafonissi is longer: it's not recommended as a day trip. Take a bit more time to explore the whole island and visit both Heraklion and Elafonissi on this 10-day itinerary.