Santorini, pt. 3: Black and Red Sand Beaches

Perissa, Santorini

Perissa, Santorini

Perissa, Santorini

Red Beach, Santorini

Red Beach, Santorini

Red Beach, Santorini

Santo Winery

Santo Winery

View from Akrotiri Lighthouse, Santorini

On our first morning in Santorini, our hotel manager gave us a map of the island circled some of his favorite spots to visit. George is a Santorini native, he grew up in Imerovigli, so we trusted his judgment about which beaches were best and which tourist sites we could skip. He recommended we rent a car for at least one day, so that we could drive down to the southern part of the island. I was hesitant at first; why would we want to do things like leave the lounge chairs on our terrace?

Needless to say, George was right, I was wrong, laziness is sometimes conquerable, etc. etc. We got our teensy rental car early one morning and headed half an hour down the coast to the bottom corner of Santorini, to Perissa and Perivolos, two black sand beaches where the topography is drastically different. Those of you who know me know there are few things in this world I detest more than sand (green peppers, republicans), and that I’ve spent my entire life avoiding having to touch it. It gives me the ultimate willies and makes me feel like I’m suffocating. I don’t know why, I’m weird. HOWEVER. Black sand? Seemingly the novelty of the entire thing worked to dispel any of my weird anxieties about the stuff. We pulled into Perissa well before any beach-goers had arrived, and had the entire stretch to ourselves. It was unbelievable. Black sand! And it wasn’t so much sand as tiny little pebbles. In retrospect, I wish I’d bottled some up and brought it back. Perissa seemed like a great town –tons of beach bars, really casual vibe– and Jamal and I vowed to go back one day.

We drove a few miles to Perivolos, which is just up the coast and also boasts black sand, but we were more impressed by Perissa, because of the huge cliffs that border it. At George’s recommendation, we went next to Ancient Akrotiri, the Bronze Age settlement that was destroyed and buried during the volcanic eruption in 1627BC. We’d visited the archeological museum in Fira earlier in the week, and couldn’t get over how many relics were rescued from Akrotiri. Bowls, vases, figurines, full pieces of frescoed walls, all dating back to 2000-2700BC. The excavation site was massive and, thankfully, indoors, covered by slatted wood planks, with elevated walkways winding through the half-dug zones. It was pretty incredible.

Then it was back on the road to the aptly named Red Beach, which is exactly what you’d expect. Only we felt like brazen explorers in our quest to reach it; you park in a designated parking lot, and then you have to climb over rocks, around a bend, down a cliff, through some more rocks, down a path, and then voila. The first time you round the cliff bend and see the striking red sand though, and so worth the effort (though I wish I’d been wearing different shoes, as my sandals were useless). I could have stayed and stared forever. The contrast of colors was almost too much for me to even process accurately. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.

We stopped for lunch in Vlychada, an almost deserted beach town with a fishing port, and had lunch at another Dmitri’s Taverna (we’d eaten at a Dmitri’s in Ammoudi Bay in Oia, too). Vlychada beach was your more typical beach, regular sand and all. We gorged on tomato fritters and saganaki and tzatziki, before heading all the way to the very southernmost tip of the island. We were told there was a lighthouse, but we wouldn’t have made the trip just for that. The views, however, made it feel like you were at the end of the world.

We decided to head home, back to Firostefani, but made one last stop at a winery. We missed the last tour of the day, but were happy to park ourselves in their wine bar and have a wine flight tasting. They tried to push an 18 glass flight on us to share, but we figured with the winding, narrow two-lane highway back up the island, we were better off sticking to just three each. We bought a bottle of Vinsanto, a sweet dessert wine and a Santorini specialty, and drove home.

23 thoughts on “Santorini, pt. 3: Black and Red Sand Beaches

  1. sounds like you made the right choice to rent the car and head south – it looks gorgeous! too bad you couldn’t have you 18 glasses of wine flight and walk it ;) oh and, “Those of you who know me know there are few things in this world I detest more than sand (green peppers, republicans)” had me laughing at work. besides the green peppers, i feel the same xo

    1. We thought about even calling a cab when we were planning our itinerary, but it would have been too costly. Instead, we bought a bottle of wine and drank it on our patio after our big day of adventure, haha. Best of both worlds :) xoxo

  2. Sand….flashbacks of you at the Jersey Shore flicking your little hands together to remove the last grain….on to Mexico where you liked sand even less. Who knew you’d find just the right texture in Greece?

    1. I get so tactically weirded out by the texture, the grittiness of normal sand! The beaches in Santorini were almost rocks, and in fact, Red Beach was rocks past where the surf came up on shore. It hurt like nobody’s business hobbling around barefoot, but the upside was that it didn’t stick to you forever! xoxo

    1. You HAVE to go. Have to have to have to. It was a sleeper for me until this trip, now I can’t wait to go back! xoxo

  3. You crack me up with your utter hatred of sand. Hey we all have our things. But yes, those beaches look gorgeous. Again, I keep asking how you could bear to come back. I would have kept pinching myself – This is REAL LIFE

    1. Haha, I know, sand is one of the more rarer foibles you hear people complain about. :) The whole time we were there we kept saying, “…sooo, what if we just, you know, stayed? Forever?” And then suddenly we were on a plane :( xoxo

  4. “…there are few things in this world I detest more than sand (green peppers, republicans),…”

    Please, was it necessary to diss a whole group of people, for a quick joke?

    You are a person, with Liberal views.

    I am a non-religious person, with many Conservative views. Not allllll! I have no wish to dictate life styles, etc.

    But I really wish that in blogging, we can all be people first… And leave political labels, off blogging pages.

    Thank you for listening.


    1. Hi Tessa, I’ve been thinking for a little while now how best to respond to your comment without coming off as defensive, and after some deliberation I’ve decided that I don’t care if I come across defensive on my own blog. I’ll answer your initial question (“was it necessary to diss a whole group of people?”) with a few questions of my own: Is it necessary for republicans to continually try to legislate my reproductive rights? Is it necessary for republicans to claim they want smaller government but still want to dictate what goes on in my bedroom or between my doctor and I? Is it necessary for republicans to try and keep dear friends of mine from having the same federally recognized marriage I enjoy simply because they are of the same gender? Is it necessary for republicans to repeatedly vote against equal pay for women and men, thereby telling half the nation that we as women are only worth 70-80 cents for every dollar a man makes? Is it necessary for republicans to continually attempt to repeal a healthcare act that, before its passing, meant I would forever have been denied health insurance for a preexisting condition I wasn’t aware I had until age 25?

      I’m sorry you feel somehow slighted by my “quick joke,” but I cannot and will not separate my liberal views from who I am. My liberal views are who I am, just as much as my love of Paris is who I am, and I am proud every day of the person I am and the beliefs I stand for. My blog is an extension of me, and it is a space I happily maintain in my own voice. I’m sorry you would rather I hide my true beliefs to keep blogging to a standard you are comfortable with. My silence on topics I feel strongly about would imply consent, and that’s not something I’m willing to allow simply to avoid ruffling the occasional feather.

      1. Thank you Erin. We can have a conversation! And come out, on the other side of it, without either of us, blowing our cool. There is hope!

        Nope I should not have added “leave political labels, off blogging pages.” With that, I completely blew it. Our blog is our blog is our blog… As I have said many times.

        Part of my “problem” is being a hybrid. I agree with some of your views. I agree with some of the views of the right. And thus, I am in no-woman’s-land. Neither side wants to claim me. -grin- I can’t even fully embrace the term conservative, because I don’t agree with all of those views.

        Yeah, I know… Poor pitiful me. lol…

        Again thank you for your considered reply. Thank you, that I certainly hope, that we can go on from here. That I can continue to enjoy your very enjoyable blog. That as I said above, there is hope… For people to differ, in some ways…. But enjoy common ground. And the exchange of ideas, now and then.


  5. fantastic pics. and I love the black sand. it’s a pain if you want to spend any extended time on the beach, you come home looking filthy as hell, but it sure is beautiful :)

    1. We brought a towel from our hotel with us because there was no way I was walking around with black ankles and feet the whole day :) Thanks, doll! xo

  6. Les photos sont superbes comme d’habitude et les couleurs splendides.Auriez-vous découvert le paradis sur terre ?
    Les voyages nous ouvrent sur la beauté du monde , c’est indispensable .

  7. so pretty. i have been to a black sand beach in hawaii but never a red one. it looks like it could be on mars – of course if mars had beaches. when i travel, or should i say used to travel – it’s been too long (insert that emoji with thick tears streaming down my yellow face) i always like to get out of the center and take little day trips if possible. it usually so worth it. xoxo

    1. Does Mars have beaches? Is there water on Mars? I feel like this is something I should know! But yes, my failed astronomy aside, the red beach looked like it was from a different planet. Travel, big or small, is always worth it! xo

  8. Il y a des plages comme ça, toutes noire à Tenerife, une ile d’Espagne. C’est très spécial ! Je suis contente que tu as découvert un endroit qui te plait autant que Paris :)

    1. Ooh, maintenant je veux aller au Espagne! Haha, moi aussi, je suis content que nous avons decouvert un endroit qui me plait autant que Paris. xoxo

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