After weeks of anticipation, I had extremely high expectations for the unique experience of paddling the Aegean Seas surrounding Santorini. I emailed back and forth with the Santorini Sea Kayak team, who were incredibly helpful in suggesting the best fit for our excursion, as there are many exciting options available. Santorini Sea Kayak offers full day tours; one around the volcanic island and one around the famous Santorini lighthouse (at the tip of the island). They also offer half-day tours allowing exploration of the unique formations along the red, white, and black beaches (as well as a few caves along the way!).
I have been river kayaking many times, but had never experienced gliding across the unpredictable sea, which has a mind of it’s own and can become quite moody, especially on a windy day. Working hard to provide the best experience, the Sea Kayak team stayed in touch daily, advising me of the wind’s affect on the sea and recommending our best route.
On a beautiful, clear morning, one in which the wind and the sea were dancing in perfect harmony, we made our way to Akrotiri Beach for the South Discovery Tour that promised to provide a unique experience of the colorful, volcanic beaches. The playful team of certified guides immediately made us feel comfortable and incredibly excited for our excursion! Our tour is intended for any range of skill-level (from beginner to advanced), and simply focused on having a fun time.
Haris, the owner of Santorini Sea Kayak, kicked off the day by showing us the ropes with a brief overview. Beginners were informed of how to properly paddle without wearing out your arms, how to maneuver using a rotor (not a feature of most river kayaks) and (most importantly) he assured us that the day would be a relaxing adventure allowing everyone to move at their own pace.
We set out from the small port of Akrotiri and rounded the first set of rocky cliffs into the shelter of the famous Red Beach’s cove. We had already visited the Red Beach by foot, but there is so much more to experience when seen from the sea. Our guides, Andreas and Kostas, had local perspective and in-depth knowledge of the island, providing interesting facts as well as little secrets along the way. They also brought waterproof cameras and photographed the entire adventure, allowing us all to simply relax and enjoy! They even provide hi-res images after the tour at no cost!
As we paddled our way past the Red Beach, we came to a narrow pass shielded by steep, limestone cliffs on either side. We pushed through the pass, and circled toward the back side of the cliffs, where we were lead to a small cave. The sound of the waves crashing through the cave resembled roaring thunder! The power of the waves echoed all around us. Andreas explained that we were witnessing the waves actively carve deeper into the cave with each roaring crash!
After back-paddling out of the cave, we immediately came upon the phenomenal formations of the White Beach – which has this nickname due to the large, white, iceberg-like rocks that sit at its entrance. Point of fact, the “White Beach” has grey, pebbly sand! This beach is difficult (and not recommended) to access on foot. There are ferries that provide tours however, allowing views of the massive formations from a distance – an experience that I can’t imagine does the same justice that paddling close to the massive, white cliffs provides! Either way, the rocks surrounding the White Beach are a mind-blowing sight from the sea!
Our arms were provided with a welcome break after departing from the White Beach. We docked the kayaks in a small cove near the White Beach, which we then enjoyed at our leisure. Some swam, some snorkeled, some enjoyed the shade and shelter provided by one of the many (seemingly abandoned) cave houses on the island, and we ALL enjoyed a fabulous meal of Greek finger foods! Toast with sun-dried tomato or olive paste… toothpick skewers of tomato & cheese with capers or salami & cheese with sun dried tomato… vegetables, nuts, figs, sesame with honey… it was the perfect picnic to fuel our systems!
Shortly before our return journey, I was handed slices of freshly cut, sweet melon. The dessert of the kayaking gods!
Our paddle back to Akrotiri Beach was nice and easy, with the wind at our backs helping to push us along.
Color me completely excited about our adventure paddling around Santorini! We saw the island from a whole different perspective, pushed ourselves to experience a fun, little workout, and made a few friends along the way. To anyone considering this unique adventure – expect great things!
If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good!
– Dr. Suess