Best beaches in Santorini

Shaped by its volcanic history, Santorini has some of the Aegean's best and most jaw-droppingly impressive beaches. There’s a rainbow of colourful beaches to choose from – red, white and black – and wherever you lay your towel, expect to come back with more photographs than you thought possible! The almost submerged caldera is the island's top attraction, with the nearby towns of Oia and Firá not far behind and the small Caldera Beach offers a great viewpoint. Of course, Santorini also has much larger beaches. For example, there are the famous Red Beach and White Beach, and the long sweep of Perissa and Perivolos beaches, with their seafood tavernas and tamarisk trees. Then there are the beaches that are smaller and less well-known, at least as far as visitors are concerned: Pori Beach is an excellent example. With its shallow sea and playground, families with children will enjoy the likes of Monolithos Beach. Meanwhile, divers and snorkellers are spoiled for choice, although no one can go wrong with Kamari Beach thanks to its well-equipped dive centre.

Red Beach

When it comes to the best beaches in Santorini, you shouldn’t overlook the aptly-named Red Beach. With its vast red cliffs, Red Beach is one of Santorini's most visually stunning beaches and the perfect place to take that holiday postcard picture. Located in the south of the island, close to the prehistoric site of Akrotiri, you can get there either by boat or via a short but scrambly hike down the cliffs from a small car park. Once on the beach, you'll find mostly red sand - actually pulverised rock from the nearby volcanic caldera - and black pebbles, and a few sunbeds so you can lie back and enjoy the view. Expect serious heat during the height of the summer thanks to those sheltering cliffs - and, as the nearest beach bar is at the top of the cliffs, make sure you take water and any other necessary supplies down with you.

Don't miss: Taking plenty of photographs, both of Red Beach itself and the nearby archaeological site of Akrotiri:

White Beach

If you want privacy, White Beach is an excellent choice. Although close to the much-visited Red Beach, it’s a much quieter option, which is down to the fact that it’s a little harder to get to. Get there with a private catamaran charter or via a boat from Red Beach - they run regularly in high season. Alternatively, put on some sturdy shoes and walk there from Kambia Beach – it’s a great challenge for those who want a bit of adventure and it's worth the effort: dazzlingly white cliffs curve around the small beach with its contrasting grey sand. Out in the bay, the water is shallow, crystalline and excellent for a cooling dip on a hot day. It's another beach with no amenities apart from sunbeds and umbrellas, but this only enhances its get-away-from-it-all appeal.

Don't miss: Snorkelling through the translucent sea.

Kamari Beach

One of the island's most popular resorts, Kamari is a black sand beach beneath the towering Mesa Vouno. At 5km long, there's plenty of room for everyone and plenty to do. The beach has Blue Flag status, making the crystal-clear waters even more appealing. If you fancy more than swimming, there's a dive centre, which offers diving lessons and equipment hire for both diving and snorkelling excursions. Kamari also has all the water sports anyone could want, including water skiing and windsurfing. And, back on the sands, there's even a dedicated area for beach volleyball. Meanwhile, the parallel promenade is a great place for a drink, a meal or simply a stroll and a spot of people-watching.

Don't miss: Visiting the remains of the ancient city of Thera at the top of Mesa Vouno, and the nearby modern settlement of Firá, with its stupendous views over the flooded caldera.

Perissa Beach

Another impressive black sand beach beneath Mesa Vouno, Perissa Beach is around 13km from Fira, the island's capital. It's a well-organised beach, with plenty of comfortable loungers and sunshades although the dark blue waters are strong competition. It's an excellent choice of beach if you're travelling with children. Not only is there a playground but also a water park with several thrilling slides. Two dive centres and a dedicated dive site cater for those who want to explore beneath the waves while the range of available water sports includes the ever-popular banana boat. Nearby tavernas provide great refreshment spots and, after dark, a number of beach bars and clubs come into their own.

Don't miss: An exhilarating session of flyboarding.

Perivolos Beach

If you're looking for a beachside wedding venue, Perivolos Beach on the south east coast is a popular choice. Its black sands and dark blue-green sea ensure it'll look great in the photos and, from a practical point of view, it's easy to get to by bus or hire car. It's also a lively beach and superb for a post-wedding party. Various beach bars pump out the tunes throughout the day, while guest DJs make regular appearances. However the size of the beach makes it easy to find a peaceful spot to lie back on your lounger and relax. If you're feeling more active, scuba diving and windsurfing are just two of the water sports on offer.

Don't miss: Joining in one of the regular beach volleyball tournaments.

Monolithos Beach

A peaceful beach on the island's east coast, Monolithos is particularly good for families with children. The grey and black sands slope gently into a shallow sea that doesn't have the steep drop-off into deeper water of some of the beaches on the island. A playground is a fun alternative option for the kids to let off steam while older children (and their parents) may enjoy the football pitch or the volleyball and basketball courts. Nearby cafes, tavernas and bars offer plenty of eating options. There's even a more secluded area of the beach, shaded by trees, which is perfect for anyone looking for some downtime away from the children!

Don't miss: Trying locally-caught fish in one of the excellent tavernas.

Vlychada Beach

For visual evidence of Santorini's status as an island shaped by volcanic activity, it's hard to beat Vlychada Beach on the south coast. Massive cliffs overlook the black sand shore and turquoise sea. They're actually shaped by the triple effects of volcanic activity, wind and waves but look as if they've been hand-carved by some giant sculptor. Sunbeds, straw parasols and a beach bar ensure your comfort as you relax amid this bewitchingly quasi-lunar landscape. Meanwhile, in the nearby port of Vlychada, you'll find Santorini's Sailing and Yachting Centre. Even if you don't fancy taking to the water yourself, it's a lovely location to enjoy a meal in one of the tavernas overlooking the marina.

Don't miss: Visiting Vlychada's tomato factory, for its genuinely fascinating insight into one of Santorini's most important products.

Mesa Pigadia Beach

If you're searching for a smaller, quieter spot without the water sports and beach games, or want to visit one of Santorini's larger beaches, Mesa Pigadia Beach could be just what you're after. It’s only a stone's throw from the famous White Beach but it has a totally different feel. (If you're feeling adventurous, it’s accessible from White Beach via a cave, otherwise a dirt road or a boat trip are the alternative ways of getting there). Like Vlychada, Mesa Pigadia has some impressive volcanic cliffs. However, at Mesa Pigadia, local fishermen use caves in the cliffs to keep their boats. The caves have colourful doors and are an attractive contrast to the black pebble beach and deep turquoise sea. Hammocks provide the perfect vantage point to take in the views.

Don't miss: Enjoying a meal on the balcony of the beach's family-run taverna.

Vourvoulos Beach

One of Santorini's less well-known beaches, Vourvoulos on the north-eastern coast, is another with elaborate rock formations and tucked-away caves. Pebbles stipple the dark sand and a line of wind-twisted trees provides welcome shade on hot days. The sea is a perfect turquoise-blue but watch out for the pebbles and occasional sea urchin on the sea bed. (Water shoes are a good idea when swimming here.) There are sunbeds and umbrellas for hire - but not so many so as to make the beach look busy. Nearby restaurants offer good meals and even WiFi but the taverna on the beach is hard to beat for its views and its fresh fish specials.

Don't miss: Visiting the nearby village of Karterados.

Pori Beach

A favourite with locals, Pori Beach is on Santorini's north east coast. It's easy to get to by road but you'll have to tackle a set of steps down to the beach itself. Once there, you'll find sand that's paler than on most of the island's beaches, reddish cliffs and beautifully clear water. There are no sun loungers or umbrellas to rent at this beach and, for refreshments, you must either bring what you need or go to the taverna on the overlooking cliffs. A lovely place for a drink while enjoying the view and the sense of peace and quiet, the taverna is also recommended for its fresh fish dishes.

Don't miss: Travelling on to the nearby Cape Columbo, Santorini's most isolated beach, with its dramatic headland and windswept landscape.

Caldera Beach

You can't go to Santorini and not admire its stunning caldera and famous surrounding villages. The black sands of Caldera Beach offer one of the nicest vantage points. The beach is also a great place to swim although children and non-swimmers will quickly find themselves out of their depth. However, this depth, combined with the transparency of the water and the brilliantly penetrating sunlight, helps make Caldera Beach one of Santorini's top snorkelling sites. If you don't have your own gear, you can hire it from the nearby dive school. The beach also has a restaurant, which provides a lovely excuse to sit and gaze at the view of the caldera itself.

Don't miss: Making an excursion up to picture postcard-perfect Oia, overlooking the volcano and famous for its sunsets.

Eros Beach

You could easily spend a whole day in the surroundings of Eros Beach. A secluded spot on the south coast, you'll find it just beyond a small car park at the end of a dirt road. Amazing white-brown cliffs encircle the pebbly beach and a sea that often looks deep jade green. Deep waters make it a good place for confident swimmers while a beach volleyball court offers alternative exercise on dry land. You can hire the usual sun loungers and straw parasols but it's the beach bar that's the stand-out feature here. Sympathetically constructed from wood and stone, the bar also offers a selection of hammocks and comfortable sofas, which are the perfect place to enjoy a beachside cocktail.

Don't miss: Checking out Eros Beach as a wedding reception venue spot if you're planning nuptials soon.

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