Elafonisi (Deer Island) Offers Pink Sand and Clear Water

Pink sand and beautifully clear blue water greet you on the shores of Deer Island or Elafonisi.

A nature reserve on the island of Crete, Elafonisi is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see and it offers plenty of historical importance as well. Let us tell you about one of the local’s favorite spots, Elafonisi beach. 

Where is Elafonisi?

Elafonisi is a small island, located on the southwest coast of Crete, in the Chania region. The city of Chania is only about 75 kilometers away, and you can usually take a bus or a boat straight from Chania city to Elafonisi. Sometimes, when the water is low, you may be able to simply walk to Elafonisi island. In fact, that’s how the island gets its name. Elafi means dear in Greek. Although there are no deer on the island, the Greek people called it that because you could walk out to the island on foot, like a deer. 

Elafonisi Areas of Importance 

The island offers plenty to explore, including several coves and interesting rock formations on the tip of the island. Naturalists love Elafonisis because it’s home to 110 plant species, some of which are very rare. 

Crete is one of the oldest known areas of human civilization, so the island offers lots of history. On the highest point, there’s a plaque honoring the women and children who were massacred by the Ottoman soldiers during the Greek War of Independence. 

5 kilometers north of Elafonisi, there’s the Chrysoskalitisa monastery. According to the legend, the last step of the staircase leading to the monastery is gold, but can only be seen by those who really believe in god. The monastery was built on a high rock and is thought to resemble a fortress. 

No matter if you go to Elafonisi to explore or to just relax, it’s the perfect place to spend the day. 

W. J. Beal Botanical Garden: A Natural Laboratory

If you ever visit the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, it would serve you well to visit the thriving and fertile W.J. Beal Botanical Garden at the center of campus.

In 1873, back when the school was still an agricultural college, the garden was no more than some beds of grasses and clover planted by Professor William James Beal in a valley by the creek. Today, this expansive botanical garden in an area once known as “Sleepy Hollow” offers students and researchers at Michigan State University the opportunity to learn and work in a living, natural laboratory of sorts. 

A Catalog of Life

The numerous beds of plants that comprise the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden are neatly arranged so as to highlight the different ways that humans have benefited from plants over the years. Some beds contain plants with industrial uses, such as those devoted to fibers and dyes, while others highlight medicinal or nutritional purposes, like those for honey and plants with pharmacological benefits.

Each of the categories is explained with clear and meticulous labels which show scientific and ecological information about the plants featured. These labels also explain the human innovations that such plants have helped support. The categorization helps make the gardens into a sort of living library of botany — even the hills around the garden are planted so as to showcase different regional flowers that can be found in Michigan! 

A Place To Learn

While anyone who visits the W.J. Beal Botanic Garden is sure to learn a thing or two about plants, the garden also provides a huge benefit to the university. Students use the garden to further their learning in fields like forestry, botany, veterinary medicine, pharmacology, and much more. Having the garden directly on campus makes it easy for professors to integrate real-life botanical learning into their courses and to give their students hands-on experience in the field. The fact that the garden is free and open to the public is just icing on the cake!