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Santorini has beaches for all tastes; ideal for families, couples, and all age groups. Although the majority of them can get crowded in the summer months, you still have options for more privacy and quiet. They are located on the eastern coastline of the island, mainly because it is less steep and most of them are well organized with umbrellas, loungers, beach bars, restaurants, and taverns.
A bit about the history and geology of Santorini
The island complex of Santorini has a very long history that is lost in the depths of time and is sometimes fused with Greek mythology. Historically, the island had inhabitants at least from the middle of the third millennium BC. It is obvious that both the history and the myths of the island are directly connected with the volcano and its activity. Recent excavations that took place in the southern part of the island and specifically near the settlement of Akrotiri, brought to light a coastal town with a culture related to the Minoan but with particular local Cycladic elements. Herodotus mentions it as ‘Stroggyli’ –which translates to ‘round’ in Greek-, due to its circular shape, which according to Mythology emerged from the seabed. Not long after, it was named ‘Kallisti’ because of its beauty and later acquired various names such as Filotera, Karisti, Kalavria, Teusia, Thirameni, and even Rinia. According to local legend, Santorini is connected with the lost Atlantis, and specifically, it is believed by some that it was the central part of the island that sank.
Santorini is the most famous active volcano of the Volcanic Arc of the South Aegean. It is a complex layer volcano with a large caldera formed during various large and violent eruptions. The island, apart from a small non-volcanic background, consists almost entirely of volcanic rocks, which are distinguished as a colorful sequence in the steep walls of the impressive caldera. Volcanic activity in Santorini began about 2 Ma ago when it was a small round island, similar to the other islands of the Cyclades.
The last major eruption of Santorini was the Minoan eruption that occurred in 1613 BC, during the Late Bronze Age, and shook the eastern Mediterranean. It was one of the greatest eruptions of all time. Its deposits form the thick white cover of ash and ivy that covers almost the entire island. Santorini (or Thira) belongs to the Cyclades islands and is located 120 km north of Crete. It consists of the islands of Thira, Thirasia, Aspronisi, Palea Kameni, and Nea Kameni. Thira, Thirasia, and Aspronisi are the remnants of the great Minoan eruption, while Palea and Nea Kameni were formed in the center of the caldera by later lava flows during historical times, with the last eruption in 1950.
The volcanic complex of Santorini is the most active of the Volcanic Arc of the South Aegean. The volcanic arc has a length of 500 km and a width of 20-40 km and extends from mainland Greece to Turkey. The main volcanic centers in Greece are Methana, or Milos, Santorini, and Nisyros.
Despite the geological catastrophe that happened in Santorini, the result was the creation of islands of incomparable beauty and so impressive that they take your breath away. The special feature that only Santorini enjoys is that it has the only caldera in the world that is part of the sea. The beaches of the island are blessed with beautiful beaches where the waters, warm, flowing, and engraved by all kinds of colors. A sailing trip on the caldera can bring the visitor very close to that volcano that gave birth to Santorini.
What is the best beach in Santorini?
Well, that is a loaded question. The answer to that depends entirely on your preference, and what you have in mind when imagining the ultimate Greek island beach experience. Thankfully, Santorini's beaches are foolproof.
Santorini has a temperate desert climate and together with Anafi are the only areas in Europe with this kind of climate. Thus, the climate of Santorini is peculiar and although it is the southernmost island of the Cyclades it is also the coldest. This is mainly due to the northeast winds, however the winter is mild with an average temperature of about 10o C. In winter there is frequent rainfall, while in summer it almost never rains so Santorini is an attraction for many tourists from around the world.
The popular beaches with modern hotel infrastructure are located in Perissa and Kamari, in Vlychada you can see unique geological formations on the mountain that covers it, in the impressive "Kokkini" which is a volcanic beach you can see the layers of volcanic earth as they formed from the eruption of the volcano, in the family beach of Monolithos to take advantage of the safety provided by its shallow waters to children, in the quaint Columbus to swim in its deep waters and enjoy nature, while in the popular Ammoudi to swim with a view the settlement of Oia, the caldera and enjoy your food in one of the taverns of the area.\
Even if they're not exactly what you were looking for, they're still pretty great. Regardless, with the diversity of the choices you're presented with, you are guaranteed to find the beach of your dreams. All you have to do is seek and you shall find. Here, we have put together a list of our top beach recommendations in order to ensure you arrive on the island, fully educated on the matter.
Perivolos and Perissa (Black Beach)
Palaia Kameni and Therasia
On the southern coastal side of the island that starts from Akrotiri and continues east to Vlychada, the landscape is dominated by the white hard volcanic rocks of Thera land, in formations reminiscent of a lunar landscape, ending in steep slopes. Eros beach -or the 'beach of love' in Greek- is covered with dark sand and small volcanic black pebbles. The large beach, with a total length of about two kilometers, which ends vertically, meeting with successive diverse dirt roads, is organized, while the landscape that surrounds it is really impressive and unique.
If you travel by boat, between Oia and Imerovigli there is the beach Mouzakia. It is known mainly to those who have a boat since it is accessible only by sea. It always has very clear waters and the privacy offered by the fact that it is not accessible by car makes it very popular with those who have the opportunity to access it alternatively.
Ammoudi, Santorini - credits: Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock.com
Yes, this is a port and not a beach. However, its waters are wonderful and there are many people from the island who prefer it for their swimming -apart from the food in its seaside taverns. You can access it on foot descending 200 steps, by riding a mule, or by car. If you choose the latter, please keep in mind that you will still need to walk 200 m. Although Ammoudi is not exactly a beach it is one of the most picturesque places of Santorini and attracts a lot of people who want to enjoy a local meal and take a dive. It is a nice choice if you want to catch the sunset.
Anyone who visits the Red Beach of the island should also pay a visit to the beach right next to it, the White Beach. It is a very small beach, with white pebbles and it is incredibly quiet in relation to the busy neighboring Red Beach. It is not organized, therefore, if you want to take a dive in its waters visit it well prepared and bring with you water and snacks.
Traveler in Santorini - credits: Mariia_Boiko/Shutterstock.com
On the beach of Thermi, you will need to descend a path, which starts from Megalochori, to find peace and quiet, and dive into the waters of the caldera with a background of black pebbles, red volcanic rocks, geothermal springs -here were once the thermal springs baths of the island- and the small church of Christ carved in the rock.
Baxedes beach - credits: greeka.com
Baxedes are located on the northeastern side of the island, on the "lower" road to Oia. The beach is ideal for relaxing away from the large crowds, while you can enjoy the view of a large part of the east coast of the island. The north winds create big waves suitable for surfing. There are no sunbeds and umbrellas while access and parking are easy.
Katharos beach - credits: kalispera.se
Katharos is located in the caldera of Oia and it is a beautiful, small and quiet beach, although very close to the crowded center of the settlement. The landscape in the area is excellent overlooking Thirasia. The beach is covered by red rocks of the caldera. To reach the beach you have to go down a 5-minute path while there is a large parking space above the beach. There are no sunbeds or umbrellas to protect the natural landscape.
Mesa Pigadia is located in Akrotiri, on the inner side of the island, or "inner caldera" as the locals typically say. It is a beautiful beach with sizable length, especially if we consider that one can walk along its length for several kilometers. The beach is quiet and ideal for a calming swimming experience, while there you will find a small tavern. From Mesa Pigadia, you have an excellent view of Vlychada beach and White beach. Access is easy by car via a short dirt road while, unfortunately, there is a parking space.
The beach Palos or "Panagia tou Palou" is located in Akrotiri on the side of the Caldera. It is a quiet and small beach with an excellent view of the caldera, Thirasia the volcano, and the entire stratigraphy of the caldera. The beach is ideal to relax and enjoy nature. On the rocks of the caldera a few meters above the beach, there are two beautiful small chapels which you can visit. On the beach, there are no sunbeds and umbrellas out of respect for the natural landscape. Access is by car and you will need to walk through a 5-minute path.
Plaka beach - credits: greeka.com
Plaka beach is located in Megalochori in the area of the caldera and as in the beach "Athermi" the ways of access are either on foot down a relatively easy 15-minute path or by boat, if you have yours is a great idea to anchor it near the beach or in consultation with a boat owner. The beach is beautiful, overlooking the volcano and Thirasia while impressive is the mountain, the caldera, which covers it, with successive layers of volcanic material. A few meters above the beach there is a beautiful chapel which you can visit. The beach is relatively long and quite wide, while most of the time deserted. In case you decide to go down the trail, be sure to avoid returning during the very hot hours of the day. On the rocks of the caldera a few meters above the beach, there are hot springs that have operated successfully for many years in the past. Today the facilities do not work, but you can swim in rock openings where the water is hot.
Vourvoulos beach - credits: greeka.com
The beach of "Vourvoulos" is one of the least known and is preferred by the villagers since it is located close to the settlement. Vourvoulos beach is located on the east side of the island and is a quiet beach with nice views, without sunbeds and umbrellas. Located near the port of Vourvoulos, access and parking are easy.
Agia Paraskevi Beach
Agia Paraskevi is close to the airport and Monolithos. It is a fairly quiet beach, on the east side of the island, with clear deep waters. You can find some umbrellas and sunbeds from the neighboring taverns. The beach is very easily accessible while it has a lot of parking space, which adds to its convenience.
Armeni beach is a small and very beautiful area that hosts a beautiful small port, while it also has a beach that you can find just before entering the settlement of Oia. The beach is located on the caldera and has a wonderful view of Thirasia and the volcano. In any case, remember to take a camera with you! You can also go to Armeni by boat from Oia. There are no umbrellas or sunbeds to protect the natural environment. The stratigraphy of the caldera above the beach is a typical example of how the volcano erupts and has been the subject of research by many scientists.
The beach Athermi is located in Megalochori and specifically in the caldera of the settlement and the ways of access are either on foot down a relatively easy path (15 minutes) or by boat, if you have your own it is an excellent idea to anchor it near the beach or in consultation with a boat owner. The beach is beautiful, overlooking the volcano and Thirasia while impressive is the mountain, the caldera, which covers it, with successive layers of volcanic material. A few meters above the beach there is a beautiful chapel which you can visit. The beach is relatively long and quite wide, while most of the time deserted. In case you decide to go down the trail, be sure to avoid returning during the very hot hours of the day.
Karterados beach - credits: santorini.tips
Karterados beach is located near the beach of Monolithos. This is a long beach, without umbrellas and sunbeds ideal to offer you calm moments. Along its length, it is "covered" by the so-called geoglyphs. These are hills of rare beauty made of "aspas", the last material that emerged from the eruption of the volcano. Access and parking are very easy while the North winds create ideal conditions for surfing. The beach is preferred by many residents of the neighboring areas because of its easy access and because it is a quiet and clean area.
The beach of Apothikes is located on the road to Akrotiri from the side of the caldera. The beach has a very beautiful view of the volcano and the caldera, it is ideal for relaxing away from the crowds while its waters are deep and clear. The view of the caldera makes swimming at this beach a unique experience. Umbrellas and sunbeds are available from the neighboring tavern. Access by car is possible.
Avis beach is located on the southeast side of the island, near Kamari, which is a natural continuation. This is a beach with little people, while you can find sunbeds and umbrellas. Its waters are clear and deep while on the horizon you can see Anafi.
Exo Gialos beach is located near Fira and Karterados and is a beach preferred by many permanent residents of these areas due to their easy access to it. Exo Gialos is a quiet beach, with few umbrellas and sunbeds available, while you can also find a small tavern. You can easily find a parking spot in the area, which is also easy to access.
Marmari beach - credits: greeka.com
Marmari beach is located in Megalochori and is accessible by car via a dirt road. It is a beautiful and quiet beach on the east side of the island overlooking the sea, which is preferred by many residents of Megalochori for relaxation and to avoid the crowded beaches. There are no sunbeds and umbrellas while if you plan to stay many hours, having water and food with you would be the wisest choice.
The beach of Theros or Hanades is located in Megalochori and is accessible by car through a dirt road on the road to the port of Vlychada. It is a beautiful and quiet beach, on the inner side of the island, which is preferred by many residents of Megalochori while in recent years with the operation of a beach bar in the area more people gather and the dirt road has easier access.
The magnificence of the beaches of Santorini is undeniable. There is not a cove that is not worth swimming in, not a rock not worth laying on to catch the sun. These might be what we consider as the best beaches in Santorini, however, all you have to do in order to decide if our opinions match is visit it yourselves and exploring it to the best of your abilities.In case you are looking for really pristine and quiet beaches in Santorini, a nice suggestion would be to pay a visit to the neighboring sister island of Therasia. Untouched from the fever of tourism, it preserves its traditional character on a larger scale. Swim in Agia Irini near the port or - if you can rent a vehicle- explore more of the island’s treasures. Once you get there, it would be rewarding to visit the abandoned village of Kera and enjoy a spectacular panoramic view.
Characteristically, it is worth mentioning the cases of the beaches Athermi and Plaka in Megalochori, in order to reach which one has to descend a 20-minute path to the caldera. Both routes are safe with the biggest difficulty being the time you'll choose to visit them; you should avoid the hot hours of the day as you'll be in danger of heatstroke. In both cases, the route, as well as the scenery of the beaches, will compensate you for your effort.