Santorini Island’s Best Beaches

In the southern part of the Aegean Sea, 120 miles from mainland Greece, lies a natural jewel known as Santorini. Part of the Cyclades, this island measures about 28 square miles, and it’s roughly shaped like a boomerang. This island and the small uninhabited islands nearby were formed when a cataclysmic volcanic eruption divided a much larger island. Today, Santorini beckons holiday-goers the world over; its beautiful central lagoon, its tall cliffs and, above all, its pristine beaches on the Aegean make for an unforgettable vacation destination.


Red Beach by Randy Connolly on Flickr

The colours of Santorini’s beaches are part of what make them so memorable. The sands are black and gray and even red in some spots, a result of the geologic activity that shaped this island. Red rocks made of larva dot the shorelines. The ocean is a deep and arresting blue – it’s often hard to take your eyes off of it. The people are friendly, the atmosphere is laid-back, and the weather is warm but rarely humid or oppressive.

Water sports enthusiasts gush over the island. Ocean kayaking is popular, and many establishments rent kayaks and life jackets for half days or full days, letting tourists explore the island’s coast while getting brisk workouts at the same time.

Diving expeditions are well-loved, too. Be forewarned: the sea life in these oceans isn’t as abundant as in other popular diving spots. However, compensating for that are the spectacular undersea caves you can tour with professional diving guides. If you’ve never dived before, you can take lessons before taking the plunge. Note that wetsuits are always necessary due to the somewhat chilly water temperatures.

Those who fish should get plenty of nibbles all along the circumference of the island, though White Beach is probably the best spot for fishing. One reason for that is that White Beach is relatively secluded; it can only be reached by boat.

For an island of its diminutive size, there sure are plenty of beaches. You can divide its most-visited beaches into two main groups: eastern and southern. Eastern beaches include Kamari, Pori, Vourvoulos, Monolithos and Couloumbo. The southern group is comprised of Agios, Perissa, Vlihada, Georgios, Perivolos, Red Beach and White Beach. Each has its distinct charms and attractions, but three of the greatest are described below.

Red Beach is the most popular beach on the island, and one of the most famous beaches in the entire Mediterranean. Enormous, multi-coloured cliffs provide its backdrop. Two quaint Red Beach cafes are must-sees, if only for the way they’re embedded into the sides of the cliffs. Snorkelling is excellent at Red Beach, and you simply must take home a pebble as a souvenir.

Another highlight for beachgoers is black-sand-covered Kamari. A landmark at Kamari is Mesa Vouno, a giant rock jutting up out of the ocean, a rock with an extraordinary quality: it appears to glow in the dark. Many restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels are in the area. And the Volcano Diving Centre is located close to Kamari. If you’ve ever wanted to jump into a caldera – a giant, hollowed-out chamber created by a volcano – you can get your opportunity to do so at the Centre.

Finally there’s Perissa, another gorgeous black-sand beach. Virtually everything a person on a beach holiday could desire can be found at Perissa. There are volleyball courts and outstanding windsurfing conditions, as well as bars, shops, hotels and markets accommodating a wide range of budgets. The ruins of the ancient Greek settlement of Thera are close by, and if you so choose, you can ride over to Thera atop a donkey!

If you are in need of a beach resort, see the Holiday Beach Resort in Santorini on Hostelbookers’ budget hostels list.

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