Although long a best kept secret, recently improved air connections with nearby Kythera have seen little Elafónissos hit the travel magazines, with sumptuous pictures of Fragó Bay, endowed with two of Greece’s most gorgeous beaches of powder soft sand, Símos and Sarakíniko, kissed by Caribbean green-blue waters.
Elafónissos is one of Greece’s newer islets – until an earthquake in the 17th century, it was attached to the Peloponnese. But even if it’s only 570m (626 yds) from shore, Elafónissos was island enough to be part of the Ionians and ruled by Venice and Britain instead of the Ottomans. In ancient times it had a Temple of Artemis, which may be why its name means ‘deer island’ (similar to another islet of gorgeous beaches in Western Crete).
Besides gorgeous beaches, Elafónissos is famous for the world’s oldest known sunken city, dating back to at least 2800 BC; several large Minoan jars proved it had close contact with Crete. Named Pavlopétri after the nearby islet, it was discovered by Nic Flemming in 1967 and explored and mapped the following year by a team from the University of Cambridge.
Images by Georgios Kapsas, PD art