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Treasure Island (Elafonissi) was once used by pirates, but the pirates have all moved to Somalia, and Elafonisi (modern spelling) really isn’t an island any more – it’s an outcropping of the mainland connected by a strip of sand that occasionally submerges. That sand, however, is stunning.

It’s the sand that draws people to Elafonisi. The sand is pinkish-white (mostly shells pulverized by the sea) and the water is shallow – knee-deep in most places – and clear. Shallow, clear water and colorful sand results in an extraordinarily photogenic place, and a perfect place to take the kids and a camera.

Which is what we did the other day – took our cameras to the beach. Elafonisi is a two-hour bus ride from Chania, but the ride crosses Crete from north to south, and in so doing travels through gorges, alongside monasteries, and through quaint little towns. It’s a lovely – albeit twisty and treacherous – drive, which is best enjoyed from the interior of a luxurious, air-conditioned bus with someone at the wheel who knows no fear.

The bus arrives at Elafonisi around eleven in the morning and deposits a throng of sunbathers on the beach, joining who-knows-how-many others (few speaking English) who had traveled there by car. Acres of skin blanket the beach, shaded under palapas, fueled by concession stands and Styrofoam coolers.

We swam. We napped. We read. We watched children frolic in the lagoon. Six hours later the bus returned and we went home, sunburned and parched.

Elafonisi is a remarkable place. I’d like to return there someday during low season, when the crowds are gone and I can imagine those pirates on the island, digging deep holes for the treasure that I know I’ll find someday.

(Click any picture to enlarge)

(Photo credit for beach at top of post: Kootation.com)