Elounda, a picturesque village, is a perfect getaway for a seaside holiday, in a place which is neither too busy or too isolated. The coastline is spectacular with azure blue crystal-clear waters, pretty small beaches and also has historical interest.
Elounda's harbour, is a natural beautiful lagoon and the island of Spinalonga is at the harbour entrance. For many years from 1913, Spinalonga was a leper colony serving the whole of Greece. Its small inner network of run-down streets and houses, was abandoned by Turkish occupants at the end of the previous century, and it became home to the lepers.
Hundreds of lepers lived and died here – abandoned from friends and families and separated by the narrow strip of water from the normality of life on the mainland. It was only in July 1957 that the last remaining souls were relocated to a hospital near Athens. Inevitably a sadness seems to remain over the Island village.
Tourist boats sail half-hourly from Elounda and the island receives up to 2000 visitors a day in high season. Many local boat owners are more than willing to run holidaymakers to Spinaloga after the tour boats are finished for the day to experience the peace of the island.
There are two important archeological sites of Cretan history in Elounda, the sunken city of Olous and the Venetian fortress on the island of Spinalonga. From 500 to 200B Olous was one of the most powerful trading centres in Crete. The city had a population of 40,000, its own king and its own currency. The ruins are now beneath the shallow crystal waters off the Spinalonga peninsula, a kilometer east from the harbour at Skisma and joined to the mainland by a causeway.
By standing on the water’s edge, the ruins of the streets can sometimes be seen on a calm day. Ideal for divers and snorkelers.
Elounda has many bars and restaurants along the coastline and beyond, with terraces overlooking the sea.
Near Elounda is the charming fishing village of Plaka, where you can eat in a traditional tavernas and bars. Also visit the Monastery of Aretiou, which is close to Elounda and it has been one of the largest and most powerful monasteries in Crete.