The Magical, Pink Phenomenon of Elafonisi Beach

Written by | Travel

I have been to hundreds of beaches around the world and I have never seen this phenomenon: sand that turns from white to pink during sunset. It’s quite hard to believe but it’s true.

by Edwin Santiago


Around 4:00 pm, the pure white sand of Elafonisi Beach (on the west coast of Crete) turns from pure white to dark pink. It’s as though someone sprinkled pink dust on the shores when you weren’t looking. In some light, the sand takes on a pink glow, said to be from corals. (Elafonisi Beach is actually protected by an E.U. environmental program.)


Elafonisi is a tiny island with white sand, separated from the shore by a lagoon no more than 3 feet deep. It is connected to the main island by a sandbar.


Every friend of mine knows this about me: Taking photos is my thing. I would rather be taking photos than eat, drink, sleep or rest. But somehow, when I got to Elafonisi Beach, I got really conflicted whether to jump in its water or take photos of it. This has never happened before. For the longest time, I kept a picture of this beautiful island as my screensaver.


Enjoy new highlights of travel photographer Edwin Santiago’s journeys each Tuesday and Thursday.

Last modified: October 16, 2017