On our whistle-stop tour of the Greek Islands we visited nine islands in total, while cruising on Seabourn, including Santorini. While many of the cruisers headed to explore the island we opted for a day on the water.
Meeting us on the wharf was Alex and his mate from Private Boat Rentals, ready to show us Santorini from the waters of the Aegean Sea.
Just to give you a little background, in pre-historic times the island of Santorini was called Strongyle – meaning round. In 1650 BC, a huge volcanic eruption occurred causing the centre of Santorini to sink leaving a caldera with high cliffs, one of the world’s most dramatic geological sights.
The volcanic area is still alive. Alex first took us to the Island of Palea Kameni, then Nea Kameni to swim in the hot waters seeping from the earth core. With temperatures around 40 degrees celsius we swam up the estuary enjoying the medicinal benefits of the muddy, sulphury waters from the earth core.
A word of warning – take your old bathers or be prepared to swim in the nude as we did, as the water will discolour anything it comes in contact with.
We then headed north, hugging the coast so we could see the volcanic magna in the cliffs. From the eruption hundreds of years ago, the magna has forced it way through the fishers creating what looks like chimneys in the cliff walls. As it’s harder than the surrounding earth, it’s become prominent over the years as it protrudes around the eroding cliffs.
Swimming in one of the most northern bays with visibility of more than 20 metres we could see the cliffs extending hundreds of metres deep into the ocean.
We headed to Thirassia, known as ‘Little Santorini’ where Alex prepared our lunch of local meze, most of the recipes from his Mama. Freshly cooked and hot we ate real Greek family food with eggplants, tomatoes and more.
On our return we caught the cable car up to Fira, the capital of Santorini. It’s on the caldera cliffs opposite the volcano and is the cultural and commercial centre, very much geared around tourists. There are other options to get up the hill – donkeys. While you can argue the donkeys are used to carrying over-sized tourists in the heat of the day, but I’m not a fan of it.
If you are looking for a good walk on the island the whole of the Fira caldera is connected by a path at the edge of the cliff with magnificent views. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore this.
While Fira is stunning with magnificent views of the ocean the number of tourist and shops detract from its raw beauty. However, if you were staying on the island and have hunkered down in one of the many beautiful hotels there is no reason be out and about rubbing shoulders with the day trippers.
Alex would be delighted to take you out on his boat and I can promise you it will be more memorable than scouting the tourist shops looking for a memento to take home.
Getting to Santorini is easy
Ferry : Ferries depart from Athens to Santorini from two ports, Pireaus and Rafina.
Airport : Flights from Athens to Santorini take approximately 45 minutes.
Cruise ship : Take a cruise around the Greek Islands.
Private Boat Rentals –Contact Alex’s Private Boat Rentals – Trips Advisor: excellence winner