Crete, a gift from the gods: Greek island of legends and myths is a heavenly place for a holiday

Crystal clear water and views to die for in every direction (Getty Images)
Crystal clear water and views to die for in every direction (Getty Images)

GETTING out of my king sized bed and throwing open my patio doors, I felt completely relaxed.

The sun streamed on to my face and across to some rippling water of my very own – a personal fresh water infinity pool on my terrace – and birdsong fills the air.

If I had this view every morning, I thought, waking up would be easy.

I’m a guest at the beautiful five-star resort of Daios Cove on Crete.

The setting is completely unique, like no other resort I have ever visited.

Set in a cove on tranquil Vathi Beach in the north east of the Greek island (around a one-hour transfer from Heraklion airport), each room, villa – or mansion, if you have £10K a night to spare – has a view of the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea stretching out into the distance.

The rooms, suites and villas perfectly merge into the hillside, the whole resort sculpted out of the cove rock, seamlessly merging with the surrounding nature.

A funicular serves the resort or, if you can’t face the steep walk down to the main level where the restaurants and pools are then all you have to do is call a club car, essentially a nice wee golf buggy, to collect you. It really does feel very luxurious.

Eating great food and drinking delicious wine is probably my favourite thing to do on holiday.

The hotel houses four restaurants, each with a different menu and feel.

Go to the Taverna for traditional, hearty Cretan meals with Greek mezze to share and chilled local wines to sip.

I have to make special mention of the cocktail menu at the resort. Rather than the usual pina coladas and frozen daiquiris, the offering at Daios Cove was much more interesting and unusual, based around the botanicals native to Crete.

I particularly enjoyed the highball gimlet, a sweet drink of gin, grapefruit soda, Cretan greens cordial and olive – trust me, you’ll order more than one!

Deluxe Room

There’s so much to see and do outwith the resort, too, and it’s worthwhile tearing yourself away from your sunlounger to explore.

Sightseeing can involve a fair bit of walking, and summer temperatures can be hot, so consider visiting in April and May or October, where the temperatures are around the low to mid-20s, and you’ll be kept cool by a gentle northerly wind.

I took a catamaran trip to nearby Spinalonga island which, until 60 years ago, was inhabited by Grecians suffering from leprosy. It even became the subject of a book, The Island by Victoria Hislop.

It’s amazing to think that the islands’ inhabitants made a real, thriving community out of their isolation.

It’s a great place to go and soak up some Cretan history, plus the catamaran trip there allows you to take in some sunshine and a picnic lunch with a stop to dip into the sea (which is the most vibrant shade of indescribable blue I have ever seen).

The town of Agios Nikolaos is also worth a trip, with plenty of restaurants and cafes around the large marina, plus a buzz of nightlife after dark, if you’d like to listen to live music well into the night.

Lake Voulismeni, a small lagoon in the centre of the town, is said by legend to be the place where the goddess Athena regularly bathed.

Nods to Greek mythology are everywhere, nowhere more so than the Dikteon Cave near Psyhro, which is around 90 minutes’ drive from Agios Nikolaos.

Legend has it that ruler of the Olympian gods, Zeus, was born here. It’s a steep walk to the cave entrance and, once inside, you’re guided around the caverns by candlelight.

For something a little less taxing, the quaint village of Kritsa is another place to while away a sunny day.

Just 10km from Agios Nikolas, this village has retained its tradition and charm, and is one of the oldest villages in Crete.

Narrow streets are lined with shops full of artisanal fare and wares, including crocheted and woven blankets, cloths and intricate lace, made by the hands of the very women who sit on stools outside the doors, beckoning you in.

The hand-painted crockery is particularly beautiful, if a little pricey, and the shop keepers are keen to make a sale.

A flash of a friendly smile and a polite, ‘No, thank you,’ seems to be enough to make a gracious exit.

It’s a perfect place to grab a freddo cappuccino and a delicious, sweet baklava and enjoy watching the people amble by.

The Cretans sure know how to relax, and their pace of life is something I could definitely see myself getting used to!