Elafonisos

Elafonisos

Paradise is within your grasp!

Elafonisos has amongst others , three of the most beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean, extremely rare natural wealth , majestic views , underwater treasures and the famous sunken city, "Paulopetri".

Geography

Elfonisos island has a 19 square kms extend and constitutes the Elafonisos community of Lakonia county department. Specifically , it is comprised of the Elafonisos village , and the smaller settlements: Kapari, Kato Nisi, Lefki and Punda. Allong with the rest of the villages in the south east end of Pelloponisos it constitutes Vatica.

Environment

Elafonisos is part of the "Natura 2000" program with the code GR2540002.It's most important features/ecosystems are it's sand dunes , the wetland of Stroggili and the species of endemic flora.

Sand dunes are dynamic and sensitive ecosystems. At the end of the beach by the sea is where the lower moving sand dunes grow , with a more loose sandy substrate and sparse vegetation. The species of flora growing there are Ammophila arenaria and the Sea Lilly flower (Pancratium maritimum) which is an endangered species , near extinction. Going inwards away from the sea one can spot the white sand dunes which in Elafonisos reach a 10 meter height. At the top of the sand hills Ammophila thrive. Ammophila are a type of grass and its roots reach a significant depth and width. As a result the roots function as an internal grid that aids the stability of the sand hill. Pancratium maritimum develops an underground bulb and appears sporadically in groups. Further inward the white sand dunes are replaced by the grey sand dunes which differ from the previous ones as the plants growing on them are more herbaceous and woody thus enriching the soil with organic matter which in turn add to the coherence and color of the hill.

In the wider Stroggili area there are κέδρα and in particular the sea-cedar Juniperus oxycedrus subsp. Macrocarpa which is a rare species of the Aegean.

The Mediterranean shrublands containing evergreen , broadleaved plants as well as brushwood act as host to many bird species who build their nests in the bushes, usually preferring those with thorns as they provide extra safety from predators.

History

The island's history is of great length and interest. According to findings from archaeological digs the island is populated from the ancient times. The name as it is today , has it's roots in hunting as the island was considered a rich hunting site from ancient till recent times. According to Pausanias in the area there were ancient temples dedicated to the goddess of the Hunt Artemis , which were founded due to the staggering numbers of red colored dears (Cervi). According to a different version concerning the name of the island it is said that once a cargo ship containing deer took shelter from the weather in a bay of the island. A single female pregnant deer got away and with time their species populated the island in great numbers, When the island was populated the deer population was eradicated by the locals but the name remained. It is worth to mention that during ancient times Elafonisos had the name "Onou Gnathos". According to Venetian maps of the 15th century Elafonisos is stated as CERVI and Cythera as CERIGO (a name that the locals still use in reference to Cythera , something that never happened in Elafonisos as it was not yet populated.) Finally the village across of Elafonisos, Viglafia (roughly translated as the "deer observation post") seems to support the island's lore and name.

Sightseeing

Elafonisos is famous for its exotic sandy beaches which are the main attraction for it's visitors. Simos beach (Fragkos - Sarakiniko) which is located on the north side of the island , across from Cythera island.

Paulopetri

During your stay in Elafonisos it is worth your time to visit the ancient graves located in Punda beach as well as Paulopetri, the sunken city.

Dining

Elafonisos has one of the biggest fishing fleets of Lakonia and in it's taverns visitors can enjoy fresh fish and a variety of local delicacies.