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Elafonissos Island

Elafonisos: On the southeast section of Peloponnisos across the Punta coast and in the Laconic Gulf, there’s this small island of golden sand beaches, deep blue-green sea and sunsets that seem to be lingering over the sky. The small island succeeded in remaining some sort of secret destination that only few knew of its existance and value. The beaches on the island are of the best in Mediterranean. You won’t find big bars or clubs in Elafonisos. Instead you will find crystal clean waters, diving opportunities, lots of fish and maybe you will get the chance to see dol-phins, as the sea is a passage for them.The island is spreading in a total extention of 22Klm2 from which the 19Klm2 are the island and the rest 3Klm2 are on Laconic land. Not far away and still on Laconic ground we will find the island of Kythira which is also a very interesting destination. According to Pausanias, Elafonisos during the ancient years wasn’t an island, but a peninsula and was called “Onu Gnathos”, meaning donkey jaws because of the shape which was very much alike. The land between the island and Peloponnisos was flooded round the 1st century AC. The island Pavlopetri used to be the main city and we have found in Kavo Kalogiru ruinings of houses and roads that verify that information. We have also found remainings on the island Kasela and on the island Panagia.The flooding of the land has given this location the touch of a dreamy world as it created landscapes of no comparison.Even now-adays the fishermen (the sea round the island is very rich in fish and that males the living for many of the inhabitants in Elafonisos) draw up parts or entire objects of anciety from the bottom of the sea.The island was inhabited in the Prehistorical Ages and as Thukididis wrote it was visited by Dimosthenis (orator) in 413BC. There was atemple de-dicate to Athena, one temple dedicated to Apollo and many temples toArtemis who was the godess of hunting (Ela-fonisos literally means the island of deers and the location was fullof red deers (cervi) which have small torso. When people came to inhabit the island they wipped them all but the name remained as it was. A statue of godess Artemis from one of the temples is kept in Louvre. Artemis is holding her bows in one arm and clutching a red deer in the other. Kinadis who was one of Menelaos’ first men was burried in Elafonisos and his tomb is nowadays an archeo- lodical place. During the Peloponnisian war the island came to the hands od Athenians. During the 16th and 17th cen-tury the island was used by the pirates as a base. The narrow point that the flood created was and still is an important passage to the eastern Mediterannean and the long sandy beaches made the standering of ships a lot easier and free of danger. The caves and the numerous coves that weren’t detectable also were a plus for piracy. The island changed hands several times. From the hands of the Byzantine Empire passed to the English in the 11th century, to the Vene-tians during the 16th century, to the Ottomans in 1715, to the French in 1779 and finally in 1850 came to the Greeks. As in every island in the Ionian and the Aegean open sea there were observatories (vigles) that were used to inform the inhabitants whenever a threatening ship was approaching. Vardia is the highest point in Elafonisos (at an altitude of 276m) and was the greatest observatory. Most known of the Greeks and foreigner pirates that lived or passed by the island was Barbarosa (the red beared pirate) who actually wasn’t one man, but two brothers born in Lesvos island. During their time they were so mighty that created their own city under the name Barbaria and even cut a current. The piracy after reaching its peak in the 19th century was permanantly stoppedby the Greek Senior Service with the help foreing flees, destroying every piratical base in the Aegean open sea. From that year and on as there was no threat for the villages, the people began painting their houses white (characteristic of the houses in Greek islands) to grey that they painted them before so as not to be detectable. As for the sightseeing in Elafonisos, two things you wouldn’t want to miss are the cave in Kastania and the fossiled forest. The cave (which can be reached by two ways from Neapoli) has its entrance on the ground descending to the interrior which is separated in rooms (Red chamber, the chamber of water, the chamber of the bushes, mushrooms and so on). The names of the chambers were given according to the shapes of stalactites and the flowstones and the beauty of the cave will capture you. The fossiled forest can be reached either by car from Neapoli or by boat by the coast as it grew exactly on the cove of Saint- Marina. You will find two beautiful beaches at the foothills of the forest that complete the majestic landscape. Visit the lake Strogylli which is linked with the sea by a small canal. On the coast of the islet Pavlopetri ancient chamber tombs are standing and at the bottom of the sea the ancient city. Walk on the Medieval castle of Saint- Pa-raskevi. You will be astonished by the view as the village Faraklo is known as the balcony of Vatika and it sees to the Bay of Vion and the lowland. Go on to Diaselo on Profitis Helias and watch from an altitude of 744m Monem-vasia, Elafonisos, Neapoli and Kythira at the same time. Don’t forget to visit the Cape of Kavo Malia which since ancient years was known mainly because of the strong winds and the wreckages the bottom of the sea hosts. The approach by boat is impossible because of the huge waves. There’s also a German observatory on the North side of Vatikon built during the Second World war and has view to the Myrtoo open sea. As for swimming, there is a long list you can choose from. Agliftis is hidden behind the islet with the same name west on Elafonisos. It’s the only beach with white pebbles and can be approached by boat as the route on foot is long. Kalogeras (west from Konto-goni village), is a beach which has rich sand and huge trees by the sea. Kavo Kalogiru is the extention of Kalogeras but because of plates in the bottom of the sea you will find difficulty in swimming there. Lefki ia a beach on the cove of Lefki on the west side of the island. White sand, small rocks and a peculiar sea colour combine the land-scape of this beach. The sea is also very rich in fishes there. Also in the west side of the island you will find the re-markable beach Panagias islands. Trees on the back side of the beach and numerous islets at the extention of the sea in front, this is an utterly protected place to swim. The bottom of the sea is rich in fishes and undersea flora which gives the peculiar colours to the waters. The beach in Punta is rich in sand, the Pavlopetri beach is across the islet of Pavlopetri and goes on to the beach of Hamogelo that can be reached after walking the circle of lake Strogylli. The most known beaches in Elafonisos are the Frankos- Sarakinos on the north of the island, in a long extention and across the island of Kythira. Fine sand in golden- white colour and with extremely rich flora. Elafonisos is a unique destination that will fulfill all of your expectations.

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