Holidays in Aghios Nikolaos are more than just people-watching evenings and promenade strolls. There are boat trips from a bustling little harbour – lined with shops and restaurants. There’s a busy after-dark scene of lively music bars. Pebble beaches fill a clutch of coves in and around the town – many with various watersports. And Ag.Nik has every kind of eatery from fast food to fine food and typical taverna – where the mood is cheerful and the menu is cheap. Holidays in Aghios Nikolaos have lost none of their appeal … and the town has maintained its allure and good looks.
Spinalonga is a small island near Elounda in East Crete. Spinalonga is also known as the Leper Island, as that is where lepers from Crete and the rest of Greece were quarantined until 1957.
Today thousands of tourists visit Spinalonga each summer by boat from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda and Plaka, for a tour of its ruined buildings.
Driving along the North East coast through the gorge of St George we reach the picturesque town of Agios Nikolaos. Here we board a boat and cruise along the Mirabelo gulf. Passing the Kri-Kri Island, the Cave of the pirate Barbarossa and the bird island, we reach the small sandy bay of Kolokitha, where the boat will be anchored. Here you have plenty of time for swimming at the crystal clear water, and a BBQ (optional) will be served on board. We then proceed to the small island of Spinalonga.
Spinalonga has had a very chequered history and today, although uninhabited, still echoes with ghostly reminders of the past. The Venetians constructed a very impressive fortress with 40 cannons which has been guarding the bay since the 15th century. At the beginning of 19th century human pain and sorrow was scattered around this islet. It became a leper colony, the last active leper colony in Europe, and it remained so until 1957, when it was cleared by the Health Authorities, leaving the place uninhabited.
We then return to Agios Nikolaos where you have time to look at the shop windows and visit the bottomless lake, where the “Lotus Eaters” the well-known film was shot.