top of page
  • Clyde

I-want-pink-sand, Elafonissi

Updated: Feb 15

Living in Chania Crete for the last 16 years and having been working for some of the biggest incoming Travel Agencies in Greece, I have a clear view on the Touristic & Travel industry in our region.

Many years now, we're watching the same problems occur around us - created in the name of ''touristic development'' without any plan - and seeing no improvements, we feel the need to inform the people visiting Chania about them, using our website & blog.

To shed light & raise awareness about these problems to all visitors of Chania, we discuss the subject openly with the help of our Travel Agency Bonnie and Clyde Urban Tours.

We promote eco-responsible travel at a human pace.

Best Learning Experience in Crete by THA 2022

It simply isn't possible to pretend any longer, that we do not see these old problems. At the same time, leaving the local authorities, who go hand-in-hand with the big local Travel Agencies and massive Overseas Tour Operators, to deal with these problems according to their needs & profits calculations, is unquestionably disastrous.

Elafonissi beach over tourism Chania Crete

Chania is both blessed & cursed with having two of the most beautiful beaches, not only in Greece but worldwide. Elafonissi and Balos sea lagoons are exotic, environmental sensitive areas, that look like they have escaped from the Caribbean sea.

In this article, we'll go deeper into Elafonissi's summer reality & in a future article we'll have a closer look at the Balos lagoon.

Located in the South West part of the Chania region, 70 kms. away from the town centre, Elfaonissi became very popular & rapidly well known in social media for its pink sand, the sensitive biodiversity & the light blue shallow waters.

Firstly, let’s make it clear that there is no actual pink sand. The pink colour comes from millions & millions of broken shells, small and big, in tiny-tiny pieces, that lay on top of the sand & create this illusion of the pink coloured sand. Certainly, collecting this "sand" is prohibited.


The area of Elafonissi, is part of Natura 2000; the European network which protects very sensitive environments & eco-systems. The place is defined as “Site of Community Importance” for the EU. Unfortunately, this title doesn't seem strong enough for local authorities & big Travel agencies.

With an extremely complex & sensitive biodiversity system of plants, flowers, juniper trees, sand dunes, sea turtles, even dolphins and other sea creatures, it should be expected to be a very well protected area from massive tourism & invasive human activity.

Well, not in this case. We are in Greece.

Meanwhile, in other places on our planet, such as Thailand, sunscreens are banned from marine national parks. Why not here as well? Who hasn't smelt all the different types of chemical sunscreens mixed together, walking through the sunbeds in Elafonissi? Who hasn't see a light film of oil floating at the surface of the shallow Elafonissi waters?

The area, still to this day in year 2022, remains without almost any kind of control on how many daily visitors can enter this unique place. For the local authorities, success is calculated by high volume of people, hoping to make some more money by renting sun chairs & selling ice-cream or iced coffees. They seems to think that as the eco-system has not yet collapsed, we probably have not reach the maximum limit of arrivals. Simple, isn't it?

In a Natura 2000 protected area, could this even be legal? All we can say in this case, we have let the wolves become the shepherds.

Elafonissi Chania Crete

Huge Cretan Travel agencies are allowed to sell excursions to Elafonissi on a daily basis with no limits. One, two, three or ten busses can be there, on the same day or at the same time of day. It makes no difference. All are welcome to enjoy 3 ½ hours of "pink sand". If that amount of time seems too short, you can just snatch some of it to take back back home.

Will there be anyone to stop you? I personally haven't seen enforcement after all these years.

One thing I would really like to know is how much money all these agencies have paid back to Elafonissi, after all these years of use, in order to protect this unique & fagile ecosystem, or to collect the garbage their tourists leave behind?

I would also really like to know how many people should be allowed to visit this place every day without creating any problem to the eco-system & if the use of the bushes and juniper trees as a toilet helps these plants growing faster?

All the above, together with hundreds of tourists with cars, mini vans, scooters, ATV'S mobile homes, visiting the place daily, it is to imagine that reality is even worst.

Unfortunately, this is the second catastrophic era for Elafonissi; the first being the dynamite fishing habit back in the 80's & 90's. Will there be anything left for the future generations? It is hard to say. In the past 10 days in Greece, we are experiencing a huge environmental disaster from the burning wildfires.

Forests & animals lost in just a few moments. Is the danger of fire also present in Elafonissi?

Is there any active plan by the authorities in case of an emergency such as a fire? If so, this should be communicated to all visitors & agencies.

Over tourism in Elafonissi Chania Crete
Elafonissi Beach

In all the countries of our planet that respect their ecosystems, a place like Elafonissi would be protected & cared for by the governmental & local authorities.

How is it possible to accept, in the name of financial profit for the big tour operators, local travel agencies and transfer companies, that Elafonissi is turning into an over touristy waterpark?

There are many positive actions that can be done even without any cost, such as: limited number of daily visitors, no vehicle parking inside the Natura 2000 protected area, a symbolic entrance fee used for the maintenance and cleaning of the area, no visitors during animals and other species reproduction period, no fishing, no collecting sand, stones & plants, banning chemical sunscreens & oils, etc. Free & easy, isn't it?