What makes Koufonissi islet of Sitia province a really interesting place are the very special landscapes hidden in each corner. One of these is the unknown desert of Koufonisi, a really strange phenomenon in Greece. The small desert is located at the center of the island, at an altitude of 30-50 meters, and a little north of the trail that connect the ancient theater to the ancient temple and the lighthouse.
The desert region bears the place name Elia (olive) after a centuries-old olive tree, the only tree in the area and is one of the only 4 total olive trees (!) that we meet throughout the island. The existence of this secret desert does not seem in any beach of the island shows how close the island is located to the African climate and continent. This unexpected desert landscape occupies an area of several acres. It is mostly covered by desert sand and tall dunes with bushes. Between the dunes and the few bushes of the area many lizards find shelter.
Extreme weather conditions with high winds and prolonged drought for many months of the year have left their mark on the shape of the bushes that tend to grow sideways rather than upward. The easiest way to reach the desert Elia is the through the trail that starts from the church of Agios Nikolaos and heads to the lighthouse of Koufonissi. The ecosystem in the desert region is actually very sensitive and any attempt to approach the area should be done with great care and respect by visitors.