As winter draws to a close and things start to heat up in Europe, along with my friends south of the hemisphere starting to think about their escape from the colder months of July and August, one must see holiday destination always comes to mind… Santorini.
When you first decide to book a trip to Santorini you’ll find lots of people will have opinions on what you should do and see. Many of them will be the standard options of donkey rides, tours to active volcanoes and photos amongst the white homes of Oia. All of these are great fun, but I know you don’t come to my blog for the ordinary, so here are a few of my favourite hidden gems on Santorini.
Rock Jumping in Amoudi Bay
This is one that not many people know about unless you’re like me and follow some great travel blogs (which is why you will subscribe to mine after reading this of course!) as it’s tricky to find. Amoudi bay is a gorgeous little inlet from the bottom of Oia and takes some walking to find. When you arrive to Oia by bus, head to the sunset view point and follow the 250 stairs down to the wharf where small fishing boats dock and cute restaurants sit hidden along the water. If you pass a bunch of donkeys on the stairs, you’re heading in the right direction. I wasn’t kidding about the walking and as those stairs are a bitch to climb, you may want a little help after your swim in the sea by hiring a donkey to take you back up, but there are better locations for a donkey ride and any exercise after a few cones of gelato is a good idea.
(Ammoudi Bay and view of the rock you’ll jump from)
Turn left and follow the restaurants around a curving cliff face and you’ll find after a hop, skip and a jump along some awkward rock formations, a lovely little bay with what you might call an island sitting nice and abnormal shaped in the water. Don’t be worried, you don’t jump off the top of it! Just the ledge around the backside which is a good 10m up from the water. It is a place the locals love, so treat it with respect. When swimming in the water near the jump, you’ll see a rope on your left to help pull you up the slippery rocks to a man made cement platform. Then you will climb stairs to walk around to the jumping point.
A tip would be to wear trainers or scuba shoes as walking on the stones hurt and hitting the water with your feet gives a bit of sting that is 10 times worse than a belly flop. Don’t look down, just jump and enjoy the free fall!
Boat Rides to Hidden Bays from Akrotiri (Red) Beach
A lot of people think all of Santorini is the white houses stacked along a cliff side, but that is only Oia and you’d be missing a lot of other beautiful locations, unique only to Santorini. One of these would be Akrotiri beach, fondly know as red beach for the red mountain and crumbly red rocks and sand that lead into the sea. It is stated on various signs that you attend this beach at your own risk as there are often rock slides, but areas are roped off to keep you from laying too close to the cliff.
(Underwater shot at Akrotiri beach)
Besides the crystal clear blue water that you can happily swim for hours in, there is a great little boat service that will take you to two hidden bays for €5 return. They’re called white beach and black beach (not to be confused with Perissa beach) and have really cool caves that you can explore. I created a video for Greece where you can see some footage of these caves, so head over to my video tab to check it out. The last boat is at 5pm back to Akrotiri, so don’t miss it or you’ll be stuck there for the night as no buses can access these bays.
Sunsets in Fira
Oia, Oia, Oia. Everyone always talks about seeing the sunset in Oia, but no one realises that the sunset is just as spectacular in Fira and a lot less crowded. If you position yourself near the cable cars, you’re able to enjoy the whole sunset and not feel rushed to catch a cramped bus all the way up to Oia. You may not see the sun hit the water as Fira is located on the west side halfway down Santorini, but seeing it set between the two small volcano islands off shore is just as spectacular. Also, the day I did trek to Oia for the sunset it was so hazy it was a bit of a let down. It can be hit or miss with the weather, so why not spend one evening in Fira and one in Oia to compare for yourself!
Just to prove my point, below I posted a typical tourist shot of me trying to ‘catch’ the sun at the viewpoint in Oia. I failed miserably. I also look like I ate one too many gyros in that dress…
There are so many amazing things to do in Santorini, don’t just fall into the tourist trap of spending all your time in Oia. It is beautiful, but you only need a day, or two if you are set on getting better shots than Lonely Planet. The island has many more natural wonders that you’ll enjoy just as much and don’t forget you also want to swim, snorkel, hike or do various other crazy things, not just pose by a bunch of white houses.
♥ Love from Leah