The Lakonikos Kolpos or the Bay of Laconia
is between the two eastern tips of the Peloponessos, just north
of the island of Kythira. To get to Elafonissos you drive to the
town of Neapolis, then go back a few kilometers to the village of
Vingliafa where there are two small ferries which go back and forth
continuously to the island. The island was a peninsula in ancient
times and the sandy isthmus which separates it from the Peloponessos
is only a few feet underwater which is why the sea has the remarkably
alluring color that makes you want to leap off the ferry boat on
the 10 minute journey there.
Elafonissos island does not have the spectacular
beauty of its island cousins in the Cyclades chain. But it is surrounded
by the most beautiful turquoise seas and has some of the finest
and longest sandy beaches in Greece. The port town may remind
you of a smaller more Spartan version of Aegina, with a line of
seafood tavernas and a few rooms to rent and summer houses. Many
Athenians who have yachts and cabin cruisers come here on weekends
for barbounia and because of that prices are a little higher than
what you will pay in a beach taverna somewhere in the Peloponessos.
Simos beach may be the best beach in Greece
with soft white sand and clean blue water. One of the few beaches
in Greece where camping is allowed. Well maybe it is not allowed
but people do it anyway, pitching their tents among the dunes and
trees and giving the area a sort of hippy or gypsy feeling to it.
All the beaches on Elefonissos have a tropical look and feel to
them and the cantinas play as much latin as Greek music. Besides
the beaches there is not much to see on the island and besides being
on the beach there is not much to do besides eat and drink. But
the snorkeling is terrific, the barbounia at Psarotaverna Ntagiantas
were delicious and I even allowed myself a glass of ouzo before
our drive to Gythion.
You can find rooms in the town though
in my opinion it is also the kind of place that is nice to visit as
a day trip from Gythion or Monemvasia
with your rental car. Unless of course you are a budget-conscious
back-packer looking for somewhere to hopefully pitch your tent for
free. (You didn't hear it from me). If you are driving around the
Peloponessos this is certainly worth the time to visit for a day,
especially if you have kids. For an economical hotel in a quiet
but central location see the inexpensive Estella Studios or check Booking.com's Elafonissos Pages
The town of Neapolis to the south is not spectacular
and you won't even find it in the guidebooks with the exception
of David Willet's Peloponessos Guide, and he had nothing nice to
say about it. But I thought it was a place that I would return to
and get more familiar with. It had a lively port area, where most
people catch the ferry to Kythira, a number of non-touristy and
inexpensive ouzeries and fish restaurants and an unspoiled atmosphere.
It is not quaint nor is it charming or photogenic. It is the kind
of place where after a few ouzos everybody is your friend.