Camera? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Bikini’s? Check. Now it’s time to take off to one of the most sought out travel destinations in the world; Santorini.
Greece’s Santorini island is truly a place like no other. The name alone elicits images of hot weather and cliff side cities. The Greek island is essentially the remains of a volcanic eruption. Looking at it on a map, you will see the familiar crescent shape of Santorini and a few smaller islands surrounding a central caldera, or cauldron like landmass, that was once the Thera volcano.
Restaurants, wineries, sailing, beaches; Santorini has all of this and more. Whether you’re looking for a culinary experience, wedding destination, watersport vacation or just need a beautiful place to relax, why not visit one of the most well-known islands in the world?
You haven’t visited Santorini unless you have seen these furry friends decked out in colourful harnesses and tinkling bells. While we may have taken the ride from the harbour to the top of Fira, don’t feel like you need to ride these poor creatures to fulfill your Greek experience. In fact, I would actually recommend not doing it. Joey and my donkey riding excitement fizzled out about 20 seconds into the climb when our donkeys kept stumbling as they climbed the 600 steps to the top. What’s more, these poor animals are kept out in the blistering heat with no shaded area to take refuge and no water to drink.
Opt instead to do what my sister Nadine did and run up the stone steps as a mini workout style. On foot she raced Joey and me on our donkeys and came out sweaty but victorious.
Four girls and one pair of pants that mysteriously fits them all… We have all heard the story and now it’s time to live like them and find that Hollywood worthy cliff to jump off. To get to the well known cliff jumping spot you will need to do a little hiking. Head to Amoudi Bay, near Oia and descend the stairs to the harbour. Walk past all the sea side restaurants to the off-road trail that wraps around the tip of the peninsula. There, out on the rock island less than a 100 meter swim away you will see a flattened platform and stairs carved into the rock face where the sisterhood jumped.
Conquer your fears and follow in their footsteps as you ascend to the jumping spot and peer over the edge into the blue waters below. Hold you breath and launch yourself wild and carefree from the side of the cliff. There couldn’t be a more spectacular place on the island to cliff jump.
So much more to breeze by in Oia, you could spend your day walking the town or dining by the sea. We didn’t find out about this until we made friends on the island, but apparently heading out to Oia at sunset is the thing to do. Oia, is the picturesque village at the northernmost point of the Santorini. Whether you head there for the day or make the 11 kilometer drive only for sunset you will not regret your visit. There is nothing more relaxing than watching the sun sink beneath the Aegean sea with the perfect village of Oia lining the island’s steep volcanic cliffs. What a way to end a day in paradise.
Red, black, white sand beaches… The shorelines of Santorini has almost every type of beach color imaginable. Beach sand colour is dependant on which geological layer is exposed. The black sand comes from the volcanic stone that primarily makes up the island, the red comes from an iron-rich section of cliffs and the white beach get its coloration from the small section of eroding limestone.
While Santorini may not be a travel destination known for its beaches they are still a site to be seen while on the island. What they lack in sandy perfection they make up in amazing scenery and crazy colors.
Santorini’s beaches are located on the east and southeast side of the island near the towns of Kamari, Perissa and Akrotiri. All but the white sand beach are accessible by land. The white sand beach can unfortunately only be reached by boat. Make sure on your vacation you take the time to stop at each different coloured beach on Santorini, they are pretty magnificent.
Santorini is not a very big island and to truly make the most of your time and visit every square inch of this top travel destination it is pretty handy to have your own wheels. Renting scooters or ATVs is super cheap and handy to boogie around during your vacation.
We were fortunate enough to try renting both. In the day following our Santorini Sailing Cruise we rented ATV’s. We spent hours on the coastal roads around Oia, exploring Amoudi Bay. We were pretty glad we had rented the ATVs because some of the roads were under construction and had yet to be paved. After a day on ATVs we swapped in for some scooters. It’s important to note that the rental agencies only provide scooters to those who have a motorcycle license. Because Joey and I have our Canadian “M” class license we were golden on the rental front. We were quickly shown the scooter basics and sent on our way with my sister on the back clinging for dear life.
Life on the scooters was sensational! I much preferred them to the bulky ATVs. If you are thinking of renting transport while on Santorini and you have your motorcycle license, to me scooters is the way to go!
Check out some of Fira’s nightlife and head out on the town for a drink. Don’t feel like you need to stop at just one either. On our trip we visited a couple of classy bars, but we also raised a little hell in some of the clubs. At night, downtown Fira is party central. My favorite memory is letting Joey convince me to do a head shot. Sounds innocent enough right?! Buyer be warned; as soon as I purchased the shot the music turned down and all eyes were on me. The bartender gave me an old school motorcycle helmet and jumped up on the bar with a hard foam baseball bat. As soon as I took the disgusting shot WHACK the baseball bat came crashing down on my head. It was ridiculous how much the kids foam bat hurt the head even with a helmet. The bar erupted with cheers and people started to line up for their turn at a head shot. If you’re looking for a good time in Fira you are sure to find it!
Immerse yourself in the history and archeology of Santorini by making a stop at some of the ancient ruins. Old stone houses and fine fresco painting still regularly being excavated from dense volcanic ash is a culturally rich way to spend your day as a tourist. There are two places of interest on the island when it comes to archeological sites; Ancient Thera and Akrotiri. Nadine, Joey and I checked out Ancient Thera.
The ruins of Ancient Thera sit high above Santorini on the cliffside ridge of Messavouno mountain. Named after Theras, the mythical ruler of the island, the most notable buildings of this city are the Agora, the Basilike Stoa and the theater.
To get to the ruins you can either hike or drive 360 meters up mountain. We opted to drive the steep and winding mountain road on our scooters. Once at the summit not only were we greeted with archeology galore but also a perfect panoramic view of Kamari and its neighbouring towns.
We spent four days basking in Santorini’s wonders and somehow the days just flew and before we knew it, it was time to fly back to the mainland. It’s hard to imagine that an island that measure only 18 kilometers across can hide so many secrets.
Go get lost on Santorini guys, it’s a beautiful island!
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