The Elephant Cave at Cape Drapano in Chania is an underwater sight of stunning beauty and unique heritage, both for professional and amateur divers. At a distance of only 30 km from the centre of Chania and north of Kokkino Chorio, lies this underwater cave, a chance discovery by a spearfisher a mere 21 years ago, in about 1999.
The Ephorate of Paleoanthropology & Speleology undertook exploration of the cave in 2000 where experts came across some exceptional finds, such as elephant and –a small number of– deer bones. The cave took its name exactly from these finds and, in particular, the bones of an unknown elephant species dubbed “Elephas chaniensis”, i.e. Elephant from Chania.Access to the cave is done only via boat while its entrance lies 10 m under the surface of the sea. To reach the main hall of the cave, measuring 125 m long and about 25 m wide, one has to swim for about 40 m in an underwater tunnel of excellent visibility.
The rich natural décor, visible around the main part of the cave, is sure enchanting! The roof is covered with dazzling stalactites of a reddish tint caused by high rates of aluminium and iron, while, in the water, there is a number of wonderful stalagmites, proof that its bottom has not been always under water. These facts along with a study of sediments prove that the cave was dry some thousands of years ago. The cave today bears refuge to Monachus monachus, the Mediterranean seal, one of a number of endangered mammals on our planet.
Let’s marvel at all hidden and unhidden beauties of this exquisite cave together, like stalactites and stalagmites, the fossilised bones integrated into the cave’s ore.