Overlooking a picturesque shoreline dotted with sandy beaches and pebble coves, Abaton Island Resort & Spa is ideally situated for visiting some of Crete’s most iconic cultural attractions and sights. A short stroll from the lively, shop-lined seaside resort of Hersonissos, this is also the perfect haven for your laidback holiday in the sun.

Far enough from the crowds to afford luxurious privacy yet close enough to the island’s main attractions to offer easy access, this beautifully designed, family-owned hotel offers you the best of all worlds. From beachfront fun in the sun to luxurious spa pampering; authentic gourmet experiences and easy access to some of the island’s main attractions, here are five fab reasons to book your stay at Abaton Island Resort & Spa.

(Look out for five more reasons to make this luxury resort your summer refuge in future posts)

See the sea sustainably

Passionate about sustainable tourism and protecting the environment, Abaton Island has worked with an expert team of marine biologists to create three guided snorkelling tours that give guests an exclusive glimpse of Crete’s underwater world.

Apart from the remains of amphora, stone paving slabs and other antique fragments from ancient Hersonissos, you might also be lucky enough to spot some of the fifty plus species that flitter in these crystal clear seas – look out for spiny sea urchins (be careful not to stand on them), colourful rainbow wrasse, beautiful – but dangerous - scorpion-fish, milky-tipped tooth coral, bright orange cardinal-fish - and even the occasional swordfish-like garpike.

Since the three tours are adapted to different abilities, whether you’re an expert swimmer, or prefer to just potter about underwater there’s one that’s right for you!

Useful tip: Don’t forget to bring an underwater camera or a waterproof pouch for your smartphone.

Bask on the beach

Families will love Abaton Island’s toddler-friendly sandy beach area, where they can relax whilst their little ones play in the waves. This endless stretch of beach also has plenty of more secluded areas where couples will enjoy soaking up those vitamin-D-packed rays.

A scattering of sturdy sunloungers with plump mattresses (set at a distance which respects Europe’s covid-19 security guidelines) will make it easy to relax. Attentive staff are also on hand to provide you with fluffy beach towels and cool drinks, or to take your order from Buddha Bar’s delicious Asian-style menu, or from a sumptuous selection of fresh seafood at Bony Fish.

When the sun goes down over those sparkling seascapes, make a beeline for The Buddha Beach bar to enjoy a selection of handcrafted cocktails as you listen to the latest DJ sounds and other live entertainment.

Useful tip: if you don’t want the bother of dodging traffic, it’s an easy 15 minute walk along the beach to reach shops and other facilities in the sprawling resort of Hersonissos.

Have culinary fun with the chef

Forget moussaka and gyros – here in the home of the healthy Cretan Diet local-born chef Zinonas Christofidis’ will teach you how to make local sourdough breads and ntakos Cretan rusks.

Zinonas - who has worked in some of the globe’s best restaurants and now oversees the kitchens of Abaton Island’s five, world class restaurants - was deeply influenced by his grandmothers cooking, “My grandmother was a woman from a village in Crete. When the dough was resting, she placed a wooden cross on top, covered the dough with a towel and kept it in a warm place to rise. This picture comes to mind when I hear the words ‘sour dough’,” he says.

Useful tip: Vegans will be thrilled to hear that Abaton Island has vegan menus in all five restaurants and dishes are generally prepared using organic ingredients. You should also ask about the hotel’s special detox spa packages.

Meet the Minoans

Home of the mythical Minoans and legendary birthplace of Zeus, Crete’s beautiful landscapes are littered with archaeological sights and many of them - including the remains of Hersonissos’ ancient Lyttos port and the beautiful conserved remains and museum of Malia’s Minoan Palace - are within easy reach of Abaton Island.

Useful tip: most archaeological sites in Crete are open from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm, so plan to visit as early as possible to beat the tour buses – and the heat!

Discover ‘the real Crete’

Guarding the entrance of the less explored East Crete region, Abaton Island makes a great base for getting off the beaten path (and away from the crowds) as you discover some of the island’s lesser known sights.

Whether you head up into the mountains (via the pretty, traditional village of Mohos) to explore the windmill-studded Lasithi plateau - with its shop-lined main town Tzermiadon and the Dikteon cave where mythical god of thunder Zeus was born - or you pay a visit to the low key resort town of Elounda where boats leave for the leper island of Spinalonga, you’re guaranteed to soak up a big dose of ‘the real Crete’.

Useful tip: you’ll need a car to explore these out of the way regions – ask reception to help you organise the perfect vehicle for your trip.