For many years intrepid travellers from Chania to the fabulous beaches of Elafonisi on Crete's far western tip, have breathed a sigh of relief after the long twisting road up through the mountains and gorges from the north coast, finally delivered them to Kefali and the first glimpse of the sea again.
Nowadays the road is improved and the journey much easier - just 1.5 hours drive from Chania - but the sense of achievement still remains and the lush and dramatic scenery en route is as incredible as ever. Kefali stands at the head of the beautiful Vathi valley leading down to both the legendary monastery of Chrissoskalitisa and the beaches of Elafonisi where the sand is tinged pink at the waters edge by coral fragments and a wade across the shallow blue lagoon brings you to a desert island of spectacular sand dunes and rock formations.
The population of Kefali circa 42, still make a reasonable living from their sheep, vegetables and olive trees but over the years itinerant tourists have stopped for a breather and to admire the view. The result today is that its small central square has a choice of two simple tavernas that double as village stores. Just beyond the square is a third taverna run by Georgos & Jenny, the owners of the Velanos Cottages and without being biased it has to be said that Jenny's cooking has been widely praised by previous clients. With numerous footpaths and bridleways, the area around Kefali is a wonderful place to explore on foot and especially colourful in early summer when wild flowers adorn the hillsides with great splashes of yellow and purple. Further afield it's approximately 15 minutes by car to the beaches of Elafonisi and no more than 45 minutes to Paleohora in the far south west of Crete. Just back down the road towards Chania, a 10 minute drive brings you to the village of Elos, famous for its' chestnut festival in October and where there are also a couple more simple tavernas, as well as the nearest petrol station!
Finally, the beautiful beaches of Elafonisi are naturally popular with tourists from Chania and can be quite busy especially in high season - so if you want to avoid the hoi polloi it's better to go swimming in the morning or towards the end of the afternoon or of course, you can always enjoy the peaceful, sequestered ambience of the pool at Velanos Cottages.
In the heat of the day a light lunch in the village and a siesta afterwards is highly recommended and the locals tell us that if you include plenty of olive oil and yoghurt in your diet you could live to be well over one hundred.
The Whittys - - Apr 2003
"A wonderful place to stay. We enjoyed some scenic walks in the surrounding hills and the wildflowers were splendid.,everyone we met were very friendly. The hire car was essential for exploring the surrounding area including the fascinating beach at Elafonisi."