Sailing is one of the must-do activities in Santorini. The island has great spots for snorkeling and it is also the only way to visit the sulphur hot springs and see the caldera. Most sailing companies offer two options – a day cruise or the sunset cruise for around 5 hours each. Both options are great, but we picked the day cruise due to our tight schedule.
Where to find sailing companies
They are everywhere on the island. Most towns will have a few stores selling sailing services . We decided to use the Santorini Sailing Center since it offered semi-private cruises (which restricts the number of occupants to 7 per boat). All cruises provide a meal and drinks.
We were picked up by the sailing company from our hotel at around 9:20 AM. The drive to the marina at Vlichada takes around 30 minutes, depending on traffic. We were greeted by the sailing crew and captain right as we arrived. The boat was a beautiful caterman- a dual hull vessel with sails in the middle. After the crew got us settled in with some Santorini white wine, and gave us a quick tour of the vessel, we set off.
Our first stop and opportunity for snorkeling was near the White Beach. We would recommend carrying fish food to feed the fish, which will get cool pictures with schools of fish. The water temperature is between 72-75F and is perfect. The boat crew provided us snorkel gear and fins.
The next stop was the sulphur hot springs at the uninhabited island of Palea Kameni. Santorini is still has a dormant volcano – volcanic activity manifests itself through the sulphur hot springs. The islands are barren, so expect for some sea birds that might find temporary shelter. Some companies offer tours of the crater at the center of the island, but it is better to swim at the hot springs since there isn’t much to see on the island itself. Make sure that you are wear dark colored or preferably black swimwear as the sulphur content is very high and will leave some ugly stains (the stains are there to stay). The place does smell bad due to the formation of hydrogen sulphide (it brings back memories from the chemistry lab back at college), but the water is warmer than the ocean by a good 10 degrees.
After our swimming adventure we stopped for a traditional Greek lunch prepared by the crew. The food was amazing and was the “Best Greek Food Restaurant in the Sea”. It consisted of traditional Greek sausages, gyros and seafood. Lunch was a great time for us to fly our drone and we got some great footage of the crater with boats. There was also a chance to interact with our boat mates as well as some swimming in the ocean. The crew were all very kind and made it such a fun and relaxing experience as well.
After lunch it was time to head back to the marina. We arrived at around 3:15 PM.
Tips: Carry a Go Pro or underwater camera. Dark colored swimwear is a must if you intend on swimming in the hot springs.
Check out the Santorini Sailing Center at http://www.sailingsantorini.gr