To underline what even the Hellenic Tourist Board had remarked on by phone before leaving: in Santorini you do not go to the sea. In the sense that there are many other islands in Greece (including Lefkada destination of our summer holidays last year) with much more beautiful beaches.
In the waters of the Aegean Sea
The sand in Santorini is mostly black and therefore even the sea water takes on dark tones. In fact, we have not conquered for our first swim of the season by the long tongues of volcanic sand that stretch from Perivolos to Perissa, in which free spaces alternate with equipped beaches that have the advantage of offering sunbeds and umbrellas to those who eat in the bar-taverns on the other side of the road.
We preferred the lava beaches of Mesa Pigadia, which overlooks the sea to the south of the island, and Caldera Beach, which is instead on the other side, on the caldera in fact, and just below Kokkinos Villas which was our “nest” in the seven days spent on the island.
The bluest sea is that of Kamari, a long beach of gray pebbles protected by two headlands and frequented from morning to evening, when shops and clubs fill up with people coming here to spend the evening.
But for the first swim on the island and also for the 2019 season we chose the Red Beach which in May is not as crowded as in high summer. And we did it both reaching the sandy beach, pebbles and red rocks from the ground, and diving from the catamaran that made a stop right in front of the famous beach to allow us to immerse ourselves in the emerald waters that contrast so amazingly with the vermilion cliffs.
Just as in all that deep red the blinding white of the church of San Nicola stands on the path that leads to the beach and in front of which you can park the car before continuing on foot.
A separate chapter but fundamental to really feel in the mouth of the powerful volcano is that of boat trips. There are some for all budgets and all types of boats.
We have chosen the one in Spiridakos catamaran that leaves from the small port of Vlychada passing in front of the white stack of the White Beach and then making the first stop at Kokkini Paralia or Red Beach and then passing under the lighthouse, enters the caldera.
Here the first stop is at the volcano, Nea Kameni, while the second stop is the Hot Springs, with bathing in the warm waters between the two islets of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni.
During navigation we can see the stratifications of the rocks where the colors change constantly: from the intense red of Kokkini Paralia to the white of White Beach to the high coasts of the islets in the center of the caldera that look like sculptures.
A dip: the water is cold but pleasant and unique is the embrace of emerald-green waves in front of the spectacular Red Beach. This is followed by that of the soft and perfumed towels available to guests on board.
And this is just one of the cuddles that Pablo, Joanna and Jawel, captain Mario’s friendly crew on board the Sant’Anna Boat reserve to their guests. The others? Fresh wine at the right point, soft drinks and even fleece blankets to face the return after dusk, all seasoned with kindness and many smiles.
Sea and sun baths and countless wine-based toasts are followed by a dinner of Greek specialties such as a tomato, feta, peppers and red onion salad and dolmades, rice rolls wrapped in vine leaves, then spaghetti with sauce, chicken roasted directly on the barbecue during navigation with tzatziki sauce and to finish plum cake.
Then we wait for the sunset lulled by the waves and music in the background and the sea blazes giving off-world atmospheres.
And speaking of the world, the languages of the all continents resonate in Santorini and even in a microcosm like the catamaran, guests come from Korea, France, the United States, Australia, Holland and Mexico. We are the only Italians!