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Anissaras in Crete

On the northern shores of Crete, between Kokkini Hani and Malia, lies an area which is unlike any other. Anissaras is a high-class paradise that offers peace and tranquility in splendid isolation from the noise of the rest of the world. Despite being only four miles from Hersonissos, a coastal resort filled with loud bars and nightclubs, Anissaras seems in complete contrast to all around it. Anissaras has no bars or nightclubs at all, all the accommodation is completely self contained and very up market, most is four or five star rated. Most of the hotels are all-inclusive, with bars, restaurants, pools, entertainment and sports so there is little need for external facilities. Many guests never venture beyond their hotels for the duration of their holiday.

The main beach at Anissaras is man-made between the natural rocky shoreline. It is made up of gritty sand and pebbles and covered with a profusion of brightly coloured parasols and sun loungers. Between Anissaras and Hersonissos, there are many little natural beaches nestled between the rocky promontories, these are known as the Limanakia. There is also a nudist beach here, but unlike most other naturist resorts, this tiny beach has no privacy at all and is open for all to see. The seabed around Anissaras is fairly rocky making it particularly attractive for snorkeling and scuba diving. The beautiful Cretan Sea is crystal clear making visibility superb. The climate is hot and sunny, with summer temperatures averaging 30 degrees Celsius, perfect for grabbing a sun lounger and soaking up some rays before taking a dip in the hotel pool or the lovely warm sea. The beaches extend for miles in either direction giving endless possibilities for discovering your very own cove.

Anissaras is situated 20km east of Heraklion, where you will find the nearest international airport. Flight times from the UK are approximately four hours. Local buses leave the airport every few minutes, but should you wish to explore the local area be warned there is no bus service to and from Anissaras, however, hiring a car is cheap and easy, as is using the efficient taxi services. There's plenty to do in the local area if you want to escape the resort. For the more energetic a round of golf or a game of tennis couldn't happen in more spectacular surroundings or why not try mountain biking into the glorious foothills, or horse riding through the olive groves that surround this area. How ever you travel, you will be richly rewarded with breathtaking panoramas of this awesome coastline. The local area is saturated with history, with Roman mosaics and an early Christian basilica nearby.

South of Anissaras you will find the picturesque villages of Koutouloufari and Piskopiano. Nestling on the slopes of Mount Harakas, these traditional villages give stunning views of the beautiful blue sea. Narrow paved streets are bordered by stone built houses with archways giving a glimpse into courtyards covered with vines. Archaeological sites such as Knossos and Malia are nearby. On the plateau of Lassithi high in the Dikte Mountains you can explore the famous monastery of Kera. It's over a thousand years old and has fine examples of frescoes, arches and icons. The wooden altar screen is particularly lovely. Outside the monastery the views of the Pediada Valley are simply beautiful. The plateau is also home to the Diktion Antron cave, which was renowned to be the birthplace of Zeus. At its furthest recesses, well hidden from the sunlight, is the Mandias tou Dia (cloak of Zeus), a forest of stalactites that reflects eerily on the still waters of an ancient subterranean lake.

For water lovers this northern stretch of coast boasts Aqua Plus, the largest water park in Crete. Filled with slides and pools it's guaranteed to give you hours of playful fun. In neighbouring Hersonissos you will find a wide range of shops, tavernas, restaurants and entertainments. Also there's the interesting Lichnostatis Museum of Cretan folklore, a chance to find out more about the real Crete, its crafts and traditions. Hersonissos has more of a raucous feel with parties lasting all night and if you're really feeling brave you can even do a bungee jump!

Anissaras offers a completely indulgent, relaxing experience in a magnificent coastal setting. If you want to completely escape and be pampered in luxury, this is definitely the place to do it. But that isn't the end of the story - there is also a wealth of things to do and places to visit to enrich your holiday in this most inviting and appealing neighbourhood of Crete.