Feature: Santorini's Beaches
For a craggy island of volcanic origin, Santorini has a surprising variety of beaches. Whether you're looking for a lively beach a stone's throw from a plethora of tavernas, a secluded cove, a stretch of sand to bare all on, or a place where you can combine sunbathing with appreciation of remarkable natural beauty, there is something to suit all.
Choose Your Beach
Santorini's best beaches are on the east and south coasts. Some of the beaches have no facilities at all, whereas others come fully equipped with sunbeds, beach bars and the odd water-sports operator.
The long stretches of black sand, pebbles and pumice stones at Perissa, Perivolos and Agios Georgios are backed by bars, tavernas, hotels and shops and remain fairly relaxed. Perissa has a 24-hour bar that plays DJ sets on summer nights, so that's the place if you're looking to party.
Red (Kokkini) Beach, near Ancient Akrotiri in the south, has particularly impressive red cliffs. Caïques from Akrotiri Beach can take you there and on to the sheltered cove of White (Aspri) Beach and the sunbed-studded sand at the Black (Mesa Pigadia) Beach for about €5 return. Mesa Pigadia has a beachside tavern, and there are several restaurants up from Kokkini Beach.
Vlihada, also on the south coast, has a beach backed by weirdly eroded cliffs as well as tavernas; it also has a photogenic fishing harbour with an excellent restaurant above it. The further along the beach you go, the less clothes you see; it's a favourite with naturists.
Kamari is Santorini’s best-developed resort, with a long beach of black sand. The beachfront road is dense with restaurants and bars, and things get extremely busy in high season. Boats connect Kamari with Perissa in summer.
On the north coast, a short drive from Oia, there is the long, narrow stretch of sand that is the Baxedes Beach that flows seamlessly into Paradisos Beach. There are no facilities there, and the water isn't as sheltered for swimming as their brethren on the south coast, but there are relatively few people as well.
- If going to black-sand beaches such as Kamari, Perissa, Paradisos-Baxedes or Perivolos, take a mat (or rent a sun lounger, though demand often outstrips supply), since the sand gets extremely hot.
- Vlihada, Mesa Pigadia and Kokkini beaches are particularly worth visiting in the afternoons, when they are at their photogenic best.
- If visiting the southwestern beaches, detour to Akrotiri Lighthouse for sunset to enjoy the light show without Oia's crowds.
- It's easy to combine a visit to Kamari with an ascent to Ancient Thira.
- One of the best ways to appreciate the southern beaches is via catamaran cruise from Vlihada.
Take a Break
Hungry after a stint on Kamari Beach? Skip the mediocre seafront offerings and visit Aroma Avlis for lunch instead en route to Fira for some wonderfully imaginative dishes using the best of local produce.
Peckish in Perissa? Fratzeskos Fish Tavern grills up fresh catch of the day, as well as cooking such favourites as shrimp saganaki and lobster spaghetti.
Bus/car Perissa and Kamari beaches are easily accessed by bus. For others, it's best to have your own wheels.
Boat Catamaran cruises take in Kokkini, Aspri and Mesa Pigadia beaches.
Practical Tip: Santorini's Sights
A 'special ticket package' is available for the historic and cultural sites of Santorini. The four-day ticket (adult/child €14/7) covers entry to Ancient Thira, Akrotiri, the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Collection of Icons and Ecclesiastical Artefacts at Pyrgos. Ask at any of these places.