The beaches in Santorini are one of my favorite things about the island.
Due to the volcanic activity on Santorini, every beach offers a unique type of sand — from the white beach sands of Kamari to the black sand beaches in Perissa. Plus, every beach has its own vibe and culture with enough variety to please virtually everyone.
The Southern Beaches
In my view, the most enjoyable beaches lie at the southern end of Santorini. Here you’ll find mostly “dark sand” beaches with calm waters and long shorelines.
Located at one of the southernmost points on the island, Vlyhada is a quiet beach area visited mostly by locals and Greek travelers. An active port is close by, though, so you’re bound to see lots of activity around the beach throughout any given day.
Vlyhada beach is ideal if you’re looking for a simple, easy-going day without crowds and beach bars. It’s also a nice place to watch the sunset. There is one taverna just off the beach but not much else in the way of eating or shopping.
“St. George” in English, Agios Georgios beach is another south-island beach popular with locals and Greeks. It spills over into Perivolos beach and offers some nice accommodations and restaurants.
Going north just a bit on the eastern side of Santorini, you’ll find yourself in Perivolos Beach. Here, the crowds get bigger and the beach bars are prevalent. In fact, if you’re looking for a fun, lively beach, Perivolos is a great choice.
(Just a quick note — I often say that “Perivolos is my favorite beach in Santorini.” Just to be clear: Perivolos and Perissa are essentially the same beach. The two names really refer to the 2 different “town” areas. Perivolos is the southern end of the beach; Perissa is the northern end.)
Between Perivolos and Perissa, you’ll find a mostly open area with few beach bars, shops, and tavernas. This is a nice, secluded place to get some sun and work on that tan (don’t forget your Santorini sunblock!).
Once you reach Perissa, you’ll find lots of tavernas, restaurants, shops, and beach bars to enjoy. Perissa is very similar to Perivolos, but the vibe is somewhat more laid back. Still, you can find some excellent places to grab a bite and hang out in the sun.
One of my all-time favorite places in Perissa beach is Yazz Bar. Great food, cool atmosphere, and nice sun lounges.
Also, don’t miss the lovely Smaragdi Hotel — located just between Perissa and Perivolos, right off the beach area. Perissa and Perivolos are the two best beaches in Santorini, in my humble opinion, so Smaragdi’s location is perfect to enjoy them both during your holiday.
You can’t get to Kamari directly from Perissa, at least not easily, due to a large mountain (rock formation) known as “Messa Vuna.” You can travel between the two beaches by ferry boat or by hiking the mountain. The ferry is a great way to do it, but just be sure you plan your return trip carefully since the hours of boat operation vary from season to season. As for hiking Messa Vuna… well, I’ll let you get back to me on that one.
Kamari is a nice little beach but not my favorite for two primary reasons — airplanes and hagglers.
Situated within the flight path of the JTR Santorini Airport, Kamari offers sunbathers a unique opportunity to study the underside of Boeing 757s, 737s, and Airbus A320s. Needless to say, a number of commercial flights cruise right over Kamari Beach several times a day (and night).
As for the hagglers… well, it’s probably not fair to call them hagglers, but Kamari has an abundance of overly friendly restaurant and shop workers who do their best to attract you inside. This is Greece, so the practice is common virtually everywhere, but it can be a bit annoying for outsiders.
Still, I always make a point to visit Kamari every time I go to Santorini. I love “Splash Cafe” (located at the very end of Kamari beach) and the vibe in Kamari can be uplifting and fun.
Heading farther north and much closer to the airport, you’ll land in Monolithos Beach. Also known as the “golden sand” beacon, Monolithos offers an expansive coastline with really spectacular views out into the Aegean. This is another relaxing, calm place to visit and great for beach walks.
Next up is Vourvoulos Beach. Really more of a fishing area, Vourvoulos also has at least one small taverna. Not too much to see here.
Heading back to the south is Red Beach. Very near Akrotiri, the Red Beach is one of the most popular and intriguing beaches on the island. From Akrotiri, by car, follow signs to the Red Beach. Then, leave your car in the final parking area and enjoy a nice walk (with some very easy climbing) into the rocky area.
As you turn to the right on the path, you’ll enjoy a marvelous view overlooking the red cliffs formed of lava. From there, the descent down to the beach is easy for most but could be a bit challenging if you have any physical limitations.
The Many Beaches of Santorini
I’ve covered the primary beaches here, though there are several other spots across the island you can explore by car or boat. One of my personal favorites that doesn’t really qualify as an “official beach” is located at the Theros Wave Bar. But you’ll have to read my special article about that to find out more.
Depending on your interests and taste for beach-related activities in Santorini, you can find a setting perfect for you, your friends, and your family.