||The island of Elafonisos is located at the south-western corner of Crete. It is separated from the opposite coast by a shallow strait about 150 m in width. The island is oblong with a maximum length of 1500 m and a maximum width of 500 m although for the most part Elafonisos has a width of 150-300 m. The maximum altitude (39 m) is observed at the rocky western part while the rest of the area is principally a sandy lowland. Rocks and cliffs are found only on the periphery, along the coastline (with the exception of the eastern corner of the island). The extended beach of Elafonisos is characterised by the dominance of sanddunes with the well developed community Ammophiletum arenariae. A significant population of Pancratium maritimum (sea-lily) is found in this zone. Thickets of Juniperus oxycedrus ssp. macrocarpa, also on maritime sands, occupy the area behind the Ammophiletum community. Other species met in this scrub zone are: Anthyllis hermanniae, Silene sedoides, Lotus creticus ssp. cytisoides, Ipomoea stolonifera, Orobanche versicolor, Plantago squarrosa. On the rocky coasts that exist in certain parts of the island the following plants grow: Atriplex halimus, Crithmum maritimum, Inula crithmoides, Capparis orientalis, Euphorbia dendroides, Ficus carica. Finally, the central part of Elafonisos is occupied by phrygana (dwarf shrubs) with the following species predominating: Coridothymus capitatus, Phagnalon graecum, Ballota pseudodictamnus, Hyparrhenia hirta, Ruta chalepensis.Similar communities to the ones mentioned above are found on the opposite Cretan coast as well. The monastery of Chrysoskalitissa is located few kilometres prior to Elafonisos island with its surrounding area covered by characteristic phryganic vegetation intermixed with maquis, garigue and other scrubs. The following species predominate: Erica manipuliflora, Pistacia lentiscus, Ceratonia siliqua, Anthyllis hermanniae, Calicotome villosa etc. Studies carried out in this area revealed a very rich cliff flora, comprising many rare Greek endemics or species with discontinuous geographical distribution. Certain floristic elements of this area are worth mentioning: Bellevalia brevipedicellata, Cretan endemic, known only from this part of western Crete; Verbascum arcturus, Origanum dictamnus, Petromarula pinnata and Allium rubrovitatum, Cretan endemics; and lastly Campanula saxatilis, Viola scorpiuroides and Achillea cretica, species whose geographical distribution is of residual character. Gypsum steppe vegetation dominated by the perennial grass Lygeum spartum is found near Chrysoskalitissa. Juniperus oxycedrus and J. phoenicea arborescent matorrals are found in the inner zone together with an evergreen sclerophyllous scrub dominated by Pistacia lentiscus, Ceratonia siliqua and Olea europaea. The hygrophilous Tamarix parviflora together with the exotic-looking shrub Nerium oleander form narrow galleries and small groves along the banks of streams present in the area.Finally, the marine component of the site comprises sandbanks, shallow sea inlets and reefs.