The Greek island of Santorini has long been associated with those blue-roofed, white-washed buildings that cling to the cliffside and pop up in the postcard image that makes every eager traveller all the more excited about going to Greece. The town of Oia, where these pictures are usually taken, is just a small part of holidays to Santorini, where you can feast on world-renowned cuisine at the peak of an ancient volcano and do everything from surfing to skidding down giant water slides at its mixture of black and white sand beaches.
In fact, despite its reputation for sunsets and sophisticated holidaying, Santorini is also a haven for water sports if you know where to look. Head east or south for places like Kamari Bay and Perissa and you’ll find Blue Flag beaches, waterparks and plenty of chances to get acquainted with the warm Mediterranean Sea, whether diving below or surfing the waves.
Kamari Bay for water sports
Under the shadow of Mesa Vouno Mountain, Kamari’s black volcanic sands are decked out with umbrellas and lined with bars and shops, with a bubbling resort vibe both day and night. Most, however, base their Santorini holidays here for the water sports facilities.
Take life at a gentle pace with a pedal boat or a sail around the bay, or speed things up a gear with wake-boarding, kite-boarding and wind-surfing. Depending on preference and ability, you can have lessons in all kinds of surfing styles or just grab a speedboat rental and take off across the water.
Perissa for families
Perissa Beach is a 7-kilometre stretch of sand – the traditional colour this time! – with an emphasis on family fun and plenty of hotels and resorts boasting outdoor facilities like swimming pools. If you want to occupy the kids for a day, you can’t do much better than calling at the Santorini Water Park; with its own children’s playground alongside three pools and three giant slides they’ll be raring to go on again and again.
Akrotiri and Caldera Beach for keen divers
Scuba fans should make a stop at Caldera Beach, near the archaic settlement of Akrotiri in the south of the island. There are volcanic dive sites here that offer intriguing scuba opportunities and the dive centre organises trips to visit shifting shoals of moray eels, barracuda and a lobster or two around the undulating lava formations beneath the waves. When you’ve exhausted the outdoorsy options, tour the archaeological site of Akrotiri for an alternative day trip.
So if you thought that Santorini was all about reclining with a cocktail or perusing ancient ruins, think again! You can also get your thrills out in the surf. If you’ve been diving or boarding in Santorini, let us know how you rated it, in the comments below.