The other major towns, Oia and Fira, are up high on a cliff, and thus without beaches. The northern part of the island does have some beaches, but we weren't able to visit them this trip. One of the first things we discovered about the beaches of Greece (and really, perhaps most of Europe) was that we were definitely not in the conservative United States. So:
|The girls were tanning as well.|
The south eastern part of Santorini, where the town of Perissa and Kamari are located, are where the most popular beach areas are.
After getting settled on our first day, we realized it would just be foolish to not immediately change into swim-wear and take our nap on the beach. We asked several girls at our hostel, two of which were leaving the next day, about how the beach chairs work. I had already read in my Lonely Planet guide that we would need to pay for the beach chairs and umbrellas, but the girls said that there were some places that we could just buy a drink and sit at the beach for free.
Later, I learned that these "organized beaches" were the more popular beach spots. There were also "unorganized beaches" that did feature any chairs or umbrellas. Personally, the black sands got so hot under the sun, I was very happy to have a chair and umbrella to settle into...especially during naps.
We walked around a bit, just to explore our surroundings, but we decided not to walk too long and settled at the Waves Chill Out Bar. When we first walked up to the bar area and asked about paying to use the chairs and umbrellas, this one very tan man proceeded to greet us in a very smarmy way. We felt a bit uneasy about how friendly he was, especially after all the warnings we got about talking to strangers/Greek men.
|Beautiful Perissa Beach. To my left.|
Later, he was walking up to all the umbrella and chair sets, and we realized that he was the man who collected the fee. Even later, I realized that he was completely harmless, and reminded me of one of my really good friends (for those in the know, we ended up calling him "Greek Perry").
We also ended up befriending the two wait staff at Waves, and this location became our spot on the black sand beach.
Do you see that mountain in the picture above? Vikki, one of the wait staff, told us that there was an Indian in the mountain. At first, I was like, "Someone's living in the mountain???" But, apparently, she meant that there was a profile of a face that looked Indian. I really don't know how to be politically correct about that. But we laughed at how we didn't see it at first. Do you see the Indian?
|More beautiful beach. To my right.|
|The sand was more like small pebbles.|
|What what? Waterproof camera FTW!|
|Seeing the ocean floor made us curious about |
what it looks like back home.
|Perhaps little fishies swim with us as well?|
On our 3rd day in Santorini, July 10th, the day of our hangover (I swear, I'm going to get to this soon), we managed to get ourselves energized enough after our after-breakfast nap to take an adventure out to Akrotiri - the location of some major excavation and the boat that would take us to "Red Beach, White Beach," as the men would yell to the tourists.
To get to Red Beach or White Beach, we would take the bus (1.40 Euro per person) to Fira, and transfer to the bus going to Akrotiri (another 1.40 Euro per person). The bus between Fira and Perissa ran every half hour during the day, and every hour after 8pm. The bus from Fira to Akrotiri ran less frequently, at around every hour to every hour and a half. The last bus leaving Akrotiri to Fira is at 8:20pm, I believe, so you better be prepared!
Also, when the bus pulls up and it looks like the luggage compartment is opening, don't be alarmed like we were at first! Their public buses look like those heavy-duty tour buses, with cushy seats and AC. But most passengers come in through this side door. It was pretty neat.
On the Fira/Akrotiri bus, you drive down the western coastline of the main island, so you get amazing views of the caldera.
|Thirassia, Palea Kameni, Nea Kameni, and the blue blue ocean.|
|Fira/Thira on top of the cliffs.|
|Those blue domes that everyone's so familiar with are all church domes.|
|Boat to Red Beach, White Beach|
|Do you see the tiny people climbing the cliff on the right?|
|"Okay, now jump off the boat..."|
We opted to not pay for the chair and umbrella, and the sand was still pretty hot. But the water was perfect, clear, and sparkly. Again, the sand gave way to pebbles, which gave way to larger rocks, and finally to some sand with even larger rocks. The landscape was gorgeous and magnificent.
|A bit rocky.|
|The deeper you go...|
|Efkharistoh, Red Beach. Thank you, Red Beach|
The next day, July 11th, we planned to rent a vehicle and visit White Beach and Fira/Thira. Out of all the vehicles and modes of transportation, we had the option to rent a scooter/motorcycle, a 4-wheeler, or one of many cars. But we were super excited, perhaps too excited, when the only available vehicle for that day was the Fiat Panda.
|What a freakin' cool name for a car!|
So, this time around, we were prepared for the boat ride to White Beach, unlike one of the other tourists who stepped onto the boat in khakis and fancy dress shoes. But we weren't prepared for how beautiful the scenery was going to be. I'm once again assuming that White Beach is so called because of some sort of volcanic activity from long ago. I couldn't even begin to guess what minerals are in the dirt to make it look so iceberg white.
|High cliffs that were somewhat blinding in the sun.|
|More people getting off the boat.|
|Pebbles and glistening water.|
|Sand and rocks.|
|Watch out for the larger rocks!|
|Still close to shore.|
|We swam out a bit further.|
|I stayed here, Jenny kept exploring.|
|Coral on the rock.|
|The waves were pushing me all over!|
But I got some good pictures.
In the last couple of days, we decided to stay close to home to take advantage of the beach as much as we could. We definitely became familiar with the black sands and the ocean floor at Perissa.
Next time we go, because there will definitely be a next time, we might stay at Perissa again, but stay longer so that we can explore more of the island and more of the parts we didn't get to see. We were glad that we didn't go island hopping, considering that there was so much to see and do in Santorini. Our goal was to beach it up and tan it up. In my last post about Greece, I will do a before and after picture, and you can be the judge of our success.
Coming up next: Kalispehra, Santorini (Part 2)