It seems that everyone had read Victoria Hislops book "The Island" except me, so on a family trip to Crete my Mother in law very kindly popped a copy in my suitcase. I started reading as soon as we arrived, quite frankly it was too hot to do anything else and when we visited Spinalonga Island I was at the point where Eleni, a main character, had only just arrived on the Island, so accurately described by Victoria Hislop that I felt I was taking every step with her. For the few who haven't read the book it is a love story set around the time when Spinalonga Island was used as a leper colony.
Due to the popularity of the book this island is never quiet and as you land there are lots of tour groups and a queue to pay your entrance fee. Please don't let this put you off, this island is larger than it appears and most of the tour groups stick to the sympathetically renovated Main Street.
If you've read the book, the entrance through the tunnel and opening out onto the Main Street will feel pretty significant and although so accurately described in the book it is still completely surprising to walk through the dark and into the light to be confronted by a traditional Greek village.
To avoid the large tour groups, we took the flight of stairs to your left as you come through the tunnel, you can just see them in the above picture of the tunnel. We completely escaped and managed to explore the island in relative tranquility.
The view over to Plaka from the Island.
This Island is steeped in history and you can see and feel it everywhere, it is undeniably beautiful and enchanting.
A view down to the church and over to Plaka.
A lot of the buildings are in different states of repair, some are just ruins and others are well preserved. My advise would be if you want to explore every part of this Island wear sensible shoes and take plenty of water, the paths are worn down and covered in loose stones and the stones that have been trodden down over the centuries are now as smooth as glass, some of the slopes can be quite steep.
I'm counting the days until I can visit again, it was truly a wonderful place.
We caught the boat from Elounda 25mins to the Island €10, you can also catch a boat from Plaka 10mins and slightly cheaper.
Entrance fee to Spinalonga €8 OAP €4 Children under 15 free.
If you're planning a visit to Elounda, this is where we stayed, Villa Ella we loved it surrounded by olive groves but yet only a 10 minute walk in to Elounda.
For further information on Spinalonga you can find it here.
Victoria Hislop on Spinalonga here.
Victoria Hislop "The Island" buy it here.