Category Archives: Mediterranean

The Best Beach On Santorini Is Not Kamari Beach, Or Even A Beach

Amoudi Harbor A Near-Hidden Island Gem

Amoudi Harbor Santorini Greek Islands
Amoudi Harbor is the best daytime hangout on Santorini in the Greek Islands.

 

The first time I saw Kamari Beach – its black sand and a walkway lined with cafe after cafe as far as the eye could see – I remarked at how lively the place must be at its peak in July.

As it were, it was mid-May and was as silent as a submarine.

But when I went back a couple years later in July, it was much the same. I had expected it to be full of life, activity, people splashing about in the water, a beach full of European girls suntanning their exposed breasts and the cafes rocking with backpackers.

So I changed my location to a much better beach place on Santorini. The funny thing is, this place is not a beach at all.

It’s Amoudi, a small harbor where you lay out not on black (or red; Santorini has that, too) sand but on rocks.

On an island full of beautiful spots, Amoudi may be the most beautiful of them all. It’s a rocky point at the bottom of a cliff, just below Oia.

There are people about, but it’s not crowded and it’s not loud with pumping music, which is a pretty nice combination of things.

After a night out in Fira, it’s good to have a quiet resting place but with enough people around to remind you that you’re in one of the world’s top social destinations.

Sure, at Amoudi you have no sand in which to to stretch out and must work your body into odd contortions to be comfortable on the rocks, but it has the compensating virtue of having the best water in Santorini.

It’s calm, crystal clear, cool and refreshing. You can swim in the little harbor or the area between the edge of Santorini and a large rock.

People also jump off a cliff, as they do at Kamari.

And when you get hungry or crave a beer, you plop down in a chair at one of the tiny waterside tavernas and have fresh-caught seafood. The food is literally right off the boat and onto the grill.

Beers are delivered by a shuffling old Greek guy who takes as long to get a beer as it does you to drink it.

Thus satisfied, you then  go back to your place among the rocks and eventually for another swim.

All this sure beats Kamari. In fact, Amoudi is the best daytime destination on Santorini.

5 Things To Know About Traveling To The Beaches In The Greek Islands

Tips On Accommodations, Transportation & Nude Sunbathers

Paradise Beach Mykonos Greek Islands
Paradise Beach on Mykonos is a top Greek Islands destination.

 

This is it, all you need to know about being on the islands and getting to the beaches in the Greek Isles: Mykonos, Santorini, the Cyclades & more.

1.) Stay In The Towns And Travel To The Beaches

All the action – at least at night –and most of the restaurants and shopping are in the towns. So stay there instead of at the beaches. See #2 for getting from the towns to the beaches.

This is especially true in Santorini; stay in Fira or Firastafani instead of any of the beaches, even the black-sand Kamari Beach.

2.) How To Get To The Many Beaches On The Islands

There’s not just one beach, but many, and getting to them is easy.  You can rent a car (but few people do this and it’s not recommended), you can ride a moped or you can take a bus.

The latter is really the best way because the buses are cheap, they run often day and night and they go to all the beaches. Some buses can be squeeze-in crowded – like the one to Paradise Beach on Mykonos in July and August – but deal with it. Or go to other beaches.

You can even arrive by boat to some beaches!

3.) Take Cash

Some bars and restaurants – many of these are just small hut-type places – deal only in cash. Don’t worry about having it on you or leaving it by your towel when you go the toilet or swimming.Your belongings are perfectly safe.

I’ve even left money on the bar to run into the water or to go to the bathroom.

4.) The Water Is Cool

You may THINK the water is warm like the tropics and go charging into it, but the temperature is really only in the low 70sF. So be prepared for an initial chill.

After a few cool moments, it becomes refreshing.

5.) If You’re An American, Don’t Stare At The Naked Women

Seriously!

Tho it’s hard not to, I’ll admit. Actually the women are not naked but many of them are topless. That takes some getting used to if you’re American, especially when they sit up and you’re talking to them.

Eyes up guys! (Actually, the girls find it kind of amusing when you do slip below eye level. But only occasionally!)

 

My Initial Impression Of Greek Islands Beaches Was Not Impressive

Mykonos And Santorini Become Paradise In The Mediterranean

Paradise Beach Mykonos Greek Islands
It did not take long for Paradise Beach on Mykonos to become paradise.

 

When I first went to the Greek Islands, I was super excited.

A friend had talked me into going (something now for which I am eternally grateful) and I could not wait to see its beaches.

I wanted to run full speed into the Mediterranean, drink beer on the beach, see topless sunbathers and partake of all the things I had long envisioned European beaches to be in my bold imagination.

There was another vision I had, and that was of a lush and tropical setting, full of palm trees with a deep blue sea gently kissing a white sand beach.

Yet when I first rolled my moped up to Paradise Beach on Mykonos, I was presented with a near-barren landscape. There were no palm trees, just a few sticks with small palm fronds used for shade  that looked like something you find in a rum drink in Hawaii.

The sand was more brown than white and so coarse I needed to wear flip flops on it.

The water, while certainly a nice blue, was chilly and there was a big rock a few feet from shore which you had to climb over to get fully submerged.

Somewhat stunned, before I knew it I had blurted out ” that’s IT!?”

The beach was also nearly empty; I had rather hoped it would be full of barely-clad women from all over the world in search of hedonistic adventures. Ideally involving a particular blonde Greek Islands virgin visiting from California.

Well that did not happen (on this trip anyway!) but I soon began to really enjoy one Greek Islands beach in particular, Paradise Beach. For one, I discovered it has monthly full moon parties.

Secondly, those innocent-looking bars that sit there all quiet when you arrive start pumping like major beach bars in the afternoon.

I also began to have daily meals at the restaurant. It’s cafeteria style, something that in American had long gone out of style, but I could eat cheaply and, with a garden in the back, it had the freshest Greek salad in all of Greece.

Kamari Beach Santorini Greek Islands black sand beach
The black sand beach at Karmari, Santorini.

 

Later in the trip. I was joined by a couple of friends in Santorini. We eagerly went to the black sand beach at Kamari.

We enjoyed the long moped ride to it more than the actual beach and in fact, would spend our out afternoons walking around Fira and hanging at the harbor in Amoudi, one of the most beautiful places in a most beautiful place.

So the Greek Island beaches did not impress from the beginning, but I sure came to love them the more time I spent at them.

Greek Islands Change With The Invasion Of The Italians In August

Mykonos And Santorini Go From Laid Back To Frenzied, As Do The Greeks

Santorini volcano Greek Islands
The calm scene of the islands like Santorini becomes hurried when the Italians arrive.


Whenever anyone asks me the best time to visit one of my favorite places in the world, the Greek Islands, I say June or July or September.

But most definitely not in August.

That’s when the Italians roll in, and they don’t do it gently. They pretty much take over the most popular and fun islands – Mykonos, Ios, Santorini – and crowd the hotels, shops, restaurants and bars. They are like locust in that they overwhelm anything and anyone in their way.

The Greeks don’t like the Italians (hey, most neighboring countries in Europe hate each other) and do everything they can to keep them out of Greece. They raise the prices – room rates are almost double in August what they are in July – lose a bit of their awesome hospitality and become easily irritated. And still the Italians come.

You can even see it coming. I’ve been in Greece this time of year and as July nears its end and August approaches, the Greeks become short tempered and move about in a frenzied pace (not necessarily accomplishing anything, mind you). The laid-back pace of the islands suddenly become more like New York City.

The Greeks look exhausted before the first Italian sets foot in the country.

“Oh, the Italians” they say.

And frankly, I can understand the Greeks’ plight. It’s not so much the Italians themselves – imagine if nearly all of any country’s population suddenly arrived on your doorstep – but that they are so many of them. The Italians do live life in a kind of excited state of mind, as if they just swallowed 10 pots of coffee, and this contrasts with the no-hurry attitude of the Greeks.

It doesn’t help, from the Greek perspective, that the Italians renamed the most beautiful place in all the Greek Isles. The Italians – and the rest of the world – refer to the gorgeous, volcano-blasted island as Santorini. The Greeks call it Thira. You can’t buy a ferry ticket to Santorini but you can buy one to Thira.

So if you’re wondering when the best time to go on holiday in Greece is, follow Surfside Sam’s advice and do it before or after – but not during – August.

 

The Best Sunset Spot On Santorini In The Greek Islands

Fira And The Tropical Bar, Not Oia, Is The Top Spot For The Daily Ritual

Santorini's Best Sunset Spot Fira Tropical Bar
Fira, and the Tropical Bar in particular, provide Santorini's best sunset setting.


One of the most beautiful places in the world is Santorini, the spectacular island in the Greek Isles with hotels and taverns sitting on the edge of a dramatic cliff overlooking a deep-blue caldera and a volcano that once exploded with such force it blew the surrounding land into three pieces.

And among the activities one does on Santorini – going to the black sand beach at Kamari, taking a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear harbor and having lunch at a waterside taverna in gorgeous Amoudi, riding mopeds all over the island – is soaking in the nightly sunsets.

It’s a spectacular sight in a spectacular place.

And the best place to watch those sunsets is not where the tourists and honeymooners go, Oia, but from the Tropical Bar in Fira.

People go to Oia because it’s at the end of the island “closest” to the sunset. And while it certainly is breathtaking, things are even better in Fira. From this small town perched at the top of the cliff directly across from the volcano, you get a few of the cliffs of Santorini providing a right-hand frame to the vanishing sun.

The white buildings glow and the dark cliffs become radiant. You don’t get that in Oia.

You can watch from the walkway over the caldera but Surfside Sam’s favorite spot is from the small porch at the Tropical Bar.

The manager, a lovely and lively gal that PubClub.com calls “Santa Barbara” (she’s originally from that Southern California city) greets you upon arrival. And then she or one of her great waitresses brings you a drink. Santa Barbara, by the way, makes about the only good margarita you can get in all the Greek Isles.

The setting is as subtle as the gentle breeze that’s blowing on your body. There’s a few other people there with whom to share the experience, and also to give a big “cheers” to as the sun disappears in the distance. And later, the Tropical Bar becomes one of Greece’s great hip lounges.

Wish I were there now!

 

Mykonos And Santorini Are My Favorite Islands In The Greek Isles

From A Fun Party To A Heart-Tugging Experience In Greece

Santorini Greek Islands Cliff Caldera Volcano View
The white buildings contrast with the blue sea toward the volcano in Santorini.


It’s July, and that’s peak season for the Greek Islands.

I love the Greek Islands. More so than Hawaii, more so than Florida, more so than even where I live, Southern California. (Well, to visit anyway).

Whenever someone asks me to name the best place I’ve ever traveled, I always say “Greece!”

That’s because the people are friendly, it can be a wild party one moment and heart-tugging romantic another, it’s gorgeous and the weather is ideal, just like here in Southern California.

And when it comes to which islands I like the most in Greece, the answer is always Mykonos and Santorini.

They are two opposite islands. Mykonos is where one goes to party. Paradise Beach in the late afternoon is like an adult Spring Break. There’s people dancing on the bars in bathing suits and music so loud it pierces the eardrums. After sunset it’s into town for a bit of relaxation, out to dinner in a tavern about 10 and then out on the town until, oh, sometimes the sun comes up the next day.

Mykonos Windmills Greek Islands
Mykonos is as famous for its windmills as much as its partying.

 

But Mykonos also has quiet, remote beaches. Simply get on a bus at the edge of Mykonos town and go to one. Any one except Paradise Beach will be calm. It’s also cool to walk around Mykonos town, to go in out of the shops selling jewelry and things with dolphins. The Greeks love dolphins.

It’s about a seven-hour ride on the slow ferry to Santorini from Mykonos – and if you can, take the slow ferry and not those awful high-speed hydrofoils, which are like being in an airplane bouncing over the water – and when the huge cliff slowly comes into view, my heart begins to pump faster and my eyes start tear up a bit.

There’s something about Santorini – the people, the sheer drops from the cliffs, the beauty of the place – that tugs at my heart. It is one of my favorite places on the planet.

I stay in Fira or Firastafani – the two beaches are not all that great, except for day visits –go for a swim and afternoon nap in Amoudi and settle into the Tropical Bar each evening for sunset. I travel by moped (always being careful to watch for traffic, rocks on the road that cause you to lose control and go pole-vaulting over the cliffs) and soak up the experience.

It’s a pretty awesome experience, and one I highly recommend.

 

 

4th Of July Not A Party Celebration In The Greek Islands

Beach Blogger One Of Few Americans On Santorini

Santorini Greece White Buildings Caldara Volcano
Santorini makes up for its lack of July 4 celebrations with these kinds of views.


One of my favorite places on the planet is the Greek Islands.

So much, in fact, that one year I decided to stay in Greece through the 4th of July. I was in Santorini – the jaw-dropping island with places perched on the edge of cliffs that look, from a distance, that you could flick them into the ocean far below with a flip of your finger – and was one of the few Americans.

After a day of my usual time on the moped, going to Kalamari Beach and the gorgeous Amoudi, I burst into my favorite sunset spot – the Tropical Bar in Fira – full of American spirit. I was whooping and celebrating. They love me there and know me there and treat me like family so instead of showing some strange fool the door, just looked at me as if something odd had happened to me.

I could read their thoughts: “Has he already been drinking!?”

No, I had to explain to them that it was the 4th of July. Other tourists had to be informed and, while they were happy and we did a “cheers” when I told them, they seemed not to care. Where my fellow Americans!?

But I didn’t care. I was having a great time. As I always do in the Greek Islands.

Just know if you go, not to expect any fireworks for the 4th of July when you are in Santorini, or any other place in the Greek Isles.