Star struck Elounda
Once a quiet fishing village Elounda is now home to the major luxury hotels and 5 star hotels, offering only the best of Cretan hospitality. It was here that the first ever 5 star hotel complex was built in the whole of Crete, this then led to a building boom within this small village which turned it into the lively cosmopolitan resort it is today.
What attracts people to the town apart from the lovely scenery and beaches, is the local history, the laid back nightlife where you can sit and enjoy a cocktail or two in its designer bars. Another big factor in the success of this has to be the influx of Hollywood stars who regularly holiday here over the Summer months; such faces spotted include Jennifer Aniston, Katy Perry, Leonardo Di Caprio and Lady Gaga – they all love this place.
Elounda is located to the north of Agios Nikolaos just 10 km away and is built facing into the Gulf of Elounda overlooking Mirambello Bay. The town takes it’s name from the ancient settlement of Olounda which hold a great place in Minoan and Ancient Greek history.
The four villages of Elounda are spread out along the lower slopes of the approach to the Massif they include Pano and Kato Elounda, Mavrikiano and the new area of Skisma, the port of Elounda. The one that attracts the most tourists is the port, and it provides you with some excellent photographic opportunities and a chance to dine in some excellent fish Tavernas.
Historic records dating back to 1210 state that when the Venetians ruled over Crete they ran many salt mines in the area. And under constant threat from the Turks they rebuilt the imposing fortress of Spinalonga. During the Venetian occupation they built many churches all over the island, some can still be seen today including The Church of the Virgin Mary in Druvalia, Agios Paraskevi in Tsifliki and Agios Marinas in Plaka. Around 1669 the Turks captured Crete and ruled right the way through until they were overthrown by the Cretans. A point to note in this occupation that Spinalonga Island held out for 46 years before finally being taken by the Turks.
Today Elounda only has approximately 2,300 inhabitants and most are involved in the tourist industry, offering everything from daily boat trips, running the excellent Taverna’s and bars you will find on the port of Elounda and of course the luxury 5 star hotels Elounda is so rightly famous for.
It has also been written about in books and captured on film, the novel written by Victoria Hislop entitled “The Island” was based around Elounda. The popular BBC series of “Who pays the Ferryman” in the late 70’s and also the lesser known Disney film “The fringes of the Moon” was filmed in and around Elounda.
Below you can find information of the beaches of Elounda and the surrounding area, also a brief but excellent guide on the restaurants of the area. At some point you must try the floating restaurants on the port of Elounda and watch the sunset.
Beaches of Elounda
Elounda has some very nice beaches with some even winning the blue flag award for cleanliness among other things. The Elounda Mare hotel which has Elounda beach has won the blue flag award for the past 10 years. But you can also try the beaches in Plaka which face the amazing island of Spinalonga, Plaka beach a lively and clean beach with lovely white sands.
Most of the beaches come as part of the hotels that are built near them but free to access you usually have to pay for the sunbeds’ on a daily or weekly basis. For refreshments you will find plenty of Taverna’s and beach side cafe’s offering all manner of drinks and great snacks.
Restaurants and bars in Elounda
Most hotels in the area are all inclusive but you must still venture out and try the excellent cuisine on offer in Plaka and the surrounding area. Its recommended in the high season to book ahead as these restaurants mentioned are very popular and busy. Try firstly walking up Mavrikiano Hill(known locally as Beverly Hills) and you will find Kantoyni Taverna on Mavrikiano Hill, excellent warm welcome and some of the best food in Elounda. Nearer to Plaka and close to Spinalonga try “The Pine Tree” which do great traditional Greek Meze food including fresh fish direct off the boats.
As mentioned before it is one of the few towns in Crete that is truly cosmopolitan, with really well laid out and modern bars, a great ambience and you can expect to see many of the rich and famous walking around the town streets.. Also you can get away from it all by enjoying a drink or two in the relaxed little bars on the seafront where you can watch the sunset or chat away to the friendly barman. Some of the most popular bars at and around the main square are the Bar Eden, the bar “Friends”, the bar “Ferryman” and the restaurants “Megaron”, “Marilena”, and “Vritomartis”.