Off the southwestern tip of Crete, about 75 kilometers from Chania town, lies Elafonisi beach and small island. It is within walking distance from the mainland, sometimes without even getting one’s toes wet. It was once used by pirates to hide their loot (lafyra) and that is how it got its name. The island (about 1.3 km long and 400 meters wide) is a protected nature reserve and boasts one of the finest sand beaches in the country. More than that, Elafonisi is the only Greek contender in a Tripadvisor list of the world’s 25 best beaches for 2014. This is to be expected: blindingly white-pink sand, turquoise-white lagoon-like waters that ripple as they pick up the breeze, an exotic place with sporadic vegetation against the stark bareness of the Cretan mountains. On the island discover numerous small coves, sandy beaches and interesting rock formations. It is also home to 110 plant species including the protected Androcymbium rechingeri, which is as rare as it sounds.