As our ferry rounded the tip of Oia and we entered the caldera, we had to squint against the sun, trying to make out the villages along the island’s cliffs, which could easily be mistaken for snow capping the nearby volcanic ridges. Once docked we started the hour long (and very windy) ride to Oia, the remarkably picturesque cliffside village at the northern tip of Santorini.
My two favorite things about Oia are the arresting blues of the caldera, and a small swimming area to the left of Amoudi Bay. If you aren’t already smitten by the beauty of Santorini from these photos, I don’t think there’s much I could say to convince you that this is the most beautiful water in the world. If you haven’t been to Oia, let me tell you that generally, it’s not a beach vacation destination. The village rests on the upper ridges of the Caldera and it’s several hundred feet down to the shore and waters below. But there is one, completely perfect swimming spot – if you’re ready for a hike. In Oia’s old town, there is a 1,000 step staircase that goes from the Byzantine ruins, to the tiny Amoudi Bay Port below. Climbing down and back up this staircase is a rite of passage in and of itself. The cobblestone staircase is quite slippery, and we took our time finding our way down to the tiny port, pausing when a parade of donkeys passed us on the stairs. Follow the coastal path left, through the restaurants until you round the corner of the island and have to balance as you shimmy across a bridge, and hop in the gentle waters between the island and the islet. Here, you can cliff jump, sunbathe and swim comfortably with views of Oia from below. The hours we spent scrambling down the mountain and swimming in the caldera each afternoon of our stay were as pure summer moments as you can get.
It may seem like we had Oia all to ourselves from these pictures but in July this tiny town in packed! Especially leading up to sunset when tourists from other parts of the island flock to Oia for the spectacular views from the Byzantine Castle ruins. The small streets are overly congested for the hour before and after sunset so so we took to enjoying dinner from the rooftop terrace at Melitini to avoid the crowds. Melitini is a fantastic spot for a range of greek tapas-style dishes and the servers gave great advice on what to order. And for more casual each day after our swim we’d return to Pitagyros for souvlaki and gyros! Sometimes the simplest food is the best food!
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com