One way to escape the urban hubbub for a few hours is to take a boat to the island of Gaidhouronísi (aka Donkey Island or Chrissi Island ) some 10km out to sea from Ierápetra. No one seems to know how the 5km-long island got its name as there are no donkeys; instead you’ll find a cedar forest, the fabulous “Shell Beach” covered with millions of multicoloured mollusc shells, some good sandy beaches and a couple of tavernas. Excursion boats (May–Sept daily 10.30am & 12.30pm out, 4pm & 7pm return; €24, under-12s €12) leave from Ierápetra seafront harbour, and you can buy tickets on the boat or at any of the town travel agents in advance. The voyage to the island takes fifty minutes and the boats have an on-board bar.

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