The hugely popular Greek island with no hotels, restaurants, nightlife or cars – but A-Listers and reality stars love it

THERE is an island in Greece that is more popular with holidaymakers than ever. Hundreds arrive every day. However, it has no bar, no nightlife, no vehicles, no hotels, no restaurants, no shops, no inhabitants and little in the way of fun. SuppliedTake the plunge in Domes’ adult pool[/caption] SuppliedOur suite was perfect for our family of four[/caption] SuppliedIn Tholos restaurant, a buffet overflows with Mediterranean and European choices[/caption] Even when people DID live there, they were banned from ever leaving — their existence was miserable and short-lived. Spinalonga, off the north-eastern coast of Crete, is sun-drenched and surrounded by crystal clear sea, but it has a dark history. Made famous by Victoria Hislop’s hit novel The Island, it was a home for lepers who were cut off from society in case they infected others. A cure wasn’t found until around the 1950s. Now it is a tourist attraction, and after taking a short boat trip you can wander around its little windy lanes and explore the abandoned community with its church, school and tiny houses. There is a real air of mystery and sadness as you walk round the maze of paths, the sea twinkling temptingly at the end of shadowy alleyways.  We based ourselves back on Crete, opposite Spinalonga near the pretty coastal town of Elounda, an hour’s drive from Heraklion airport. Fishing and tourist boats jostle with each other in the quaint harbour, which is surrounded by busy restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. It is no surprise celebs flock to this part of Crete; in fact the stars of Love Island love this island.  Lucy Mecklenburgh and Molly-Mae Hague have been spotted here, as have A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Ronaldo.  This corner of Crete has it all, from glittering waves and white-sand beaches to ancient monuments and incredible food. Plus, while prices are soaring in other parts of Europe, Greece seems to give you a little bit more for your Euro. With architecture that mirrors the clustered nature of Spinalonga’s buildings and the round roofs of Greece’s churches, we stayed at Domes of Elounda, a resort perfect for families and couples. In fact, similar to the geography of Spinalonga, it feels more like a community spread out over a wide area than a typical hotel. Built into the steep hillside, drivers with wide smiles in golf buggies whizz guests around along the resort’s cobbled paths. As Europe baked under a heatwave and the temperature hit the high-30s we took refuge in the huge family pool. GettySpinalonga was once home to a leper hospital[/caption] SuppliedJonathan with his family[/caption] Refer to CaptionLucy Mecklenburgh has been spotted at the resort[/caption] We also enjoyed the little stretch of coastline, where instead of umbrellas, the hotel’s sun loungers are shaded by ancient olive trees, providing much needed relief from the midday sun. There are no “normal” hotel rooms here, which means even the cheapest accommodation comes with a living area. Our suite was perfect for our family of four. Two good sized bedrooms and a sofa bed in the middle room meant we all had our own space, and all had a sea view. The kids loved the balcony, which came with a Jacuzzi. Those after proper five-star treatment can book a luxury villa or “residence” — many with their own private pool and, in some cases, even a personal butler. White sand beaches There’s even access to an area serving free snacks and drinks all day — a bit like a posh airport lounge.  It was tempting to stay put, but we wanted to explore.  In Greek mythology the labyrinth at Knossos held the Minotaur, a terrifying half bull half human, who had to be fed seven boys and seven girls every year.  Gazing at the ancient ruins, I was fascinated by the frescoes in the Throne Room, the kids were more interested in a different type of throne. Knossos has the world’s first example of an ancient flushing toilet. We hit the beaches too, of course. Voulisma beach takes your breath away. Its white sand means the sea is as clear and turquoise as you would find in the Maldives. Agios Nikolaos is another pretty seaside town; its imposing lake is at its heart with plenty of restaurants along its edge. Legend has it that the lake is bottomless and goddesses Athena and Artemis used to bathe there under the moonlight, so as not to be disturbed by mortals. We didn’t go for a dip but did join other mortals for a spot of shopping.  Back at Domes, we were spoilt for choice for dinner. In Tholos restaurant, a buffet overflows with Mediterranean and European choices. Another evening we had a table at Topos 1910 on the jetty by the beach, tucking into delicious seafood as we watched the deep yellow super moon rise over Spinalonga island. For a more relaxed evening, we headed to the resort’s central

The hugely popular Greek island with no hotels, restaurants, nightlife or cars – but A-Listers and reality stars love it

THERE is an island in Greece that is more popular with holidaymakers than ever. Hundreds arrive every day.

However, it has no bar, no nightlife, no vehicles, no hotels, no restaurants, no shops, no inhabitants and little in the way of fun.

Supplied
Take the plunge in Domes’ adult pool[/caption]
Supplied
Our suite was perfect for our family of four[/caption]
Supplied
In Tholos restaurant, a buffet overflows with Mediterranean and European choices[/caption]

Even when people DID live there, they were banned from ever leaving — their existence was miserable and short-lived.

Spinalonga, off the north-eastern coast of Crete, is sun-drenched and surrounded by crystal clear sea, but it has a dark history.

Made famous by Victoria Hislop’s hit novel The Island, it was a home for lepers who were cut off from society in case they infected others.

A cure wasn’t found until around the 1950s.

Now it is a tourist attraction, and after taking a short boat trip you can wander around its little windy lanes and explore the abandoned community with its church, school and tiny houses.

There is a real air of mystery and sadness as you walk round the maze of paths, the sea twinkling temptingly at the end of shadowy alleyways. 

We based ourselves back on Crete, opposite Spinalonga near the pretty coastal town of Elounda, an hour’s drive from Heraklion airport.

Fishing and tourist boats jostle with each other in the quaint harbour, which is surrounded by busy restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops.

It is no surprise celebs flock to this part of Crete; in fact the stars of Love Island love this island. 

Lucy Mecklenburgh and Molly-Mae Hague have been spotted here, as have A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Ronaldo. 

This corner of Crete has it all, from glittering waves and white-sand beaches to ancient monuments and incredible food.

Plus, while prices are soaring in other parts of Europe, Greece seems to give you a little bit more for your Euro.

With architecture that mirrors the clustered nature of Spinalonga’s buildings and the round roofs of Greece’s churches, we stayed at Domes of Elounda, a resort perfect for families and couples.

In fact, similar to the geography of Spinalonga, it feels more like a community spread out over a wide area than a typical hotel.

Built into the steep hillside, drivers with wide smiles in golf buggies whizz guests around along the resort’s cobbled paths.

As Europe baked under a heatwave and the temperature hit the high-30s we took refuge in the huge family pool.

Getty
Spinalonga was once home to a leper hospital[/caption]
Supplied
Jonathan with his family[/caption]
Refer to Caption
Lucy Mecklenburgh has been spotted at the resort[/caption]

We also enjoyed the little stretch of coastline, where instead of umbrellas, the hotel’s sun loungers are shaded by ancient olive trees, providing much needed relief from the midday sun.

There are no “normal” hotel rooms here, which means even the cheapest accommodation comes with a living area.

Our suite was perfect for our family of four.

Two good sized bedrooms and a sofa bed in the middle room meant we all had our own space, and all had a sea view.

The kids loved the balcony, which came with a Jacuzzi.

Those after proper five-star treatment can book a luxury villa or “residence” — many with their own private pool and, in some cases, even a personal butler.

White sand beaches

There’s even access to an area serving free snacks and drinks all day — a bit like a posh airport lounge. 

It was tempting to stay put, but we wanted to explore. 

In Greek mythology the labyrinth at Knossos held the Minotaur, a terrifying half bull half human, who had to be fed seven boys and seven girls every year. 

Gazing at the ancient ruins, I was fascinated by the frescoes in the Throne Room, the kids were more interested in a different type of throne.

Knossos has the world’s first example of an ancient flushing toilet.

We hit the beaches too, of course. Voulisma beach takes your breath away.

Its white sand means the sea is as clear and turquoise as you would find in the Maldives.

Agios Nikolaos is another pretty seaside town; its imposing lake is at its heart with plenty of restaurants along its edge.

Legend has it that the lake is bottomless and goddesses Athena and Artemis used to bathe there under the moonlight, so as not to be disturbed by mortals.

We didn’t go for a dip but did join other mortals for a spot of shopping. 

Back at Domes, we were spoilt for choice for dinner.

In Tholos restaurant, a buffet overflows with Mediterranean and European choices.

Another evening we had a table at Topos 1910 on the jetty by the beach, tucking into delicious seafood as we watched the deep yellow super moon rise over Spinalonga island.

For a more relaxed evening, we headed to the resort’s central open area with art installations, entertainment and food trucks. 

While the children headed for the games room, we headed to one of the resort’s “quiet zones”, sipped our drinks and gazed out at Spinalonga, grateful holidays are back after we suffered isolation and lockdown not too dissimilar from those poor souls with Leprosy more than half a century ago.

GO: Spinalonga

GETTING / STAYING THERE: Seven nights’ half-board at the 5H Domes of Elounda is from £1,216pp including flights from Gatwick on October 5, 23kg of luggage and private transfers.

See easyjet.com/en/holidays or call 0330 365 5005.