Greek Island Holidays

Sensational sunsets of Santorini

santorini sunset

Photo: Chris Wee

Incredible skies come courtesy of volcanic past.

Santorini is most famous for its sensational sunsets viewed from the heady heights of cliff-top villages perched hundreds of feet above the island caldera.

Tourists gather nightly in their hundreds with cameras at the ready to catch the romantic panoramic vista of tiny islets dotted in a wine dark sea with a dramatic sunset backdrop.

The incredible skies come courtesy of fumeroles from the still active volcanic islets in the caldera while the hilltop villages of Fira, Frioststefani and Oia provide a perfect platform to view the fiery skies as the sun sinks over the sea.

The word spectacular probably applies more to Santorini than any other Greek island. Born out of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in 1,600 BC this is an island of extraordinary contrasts.

White cube houses sit perched on the edge of dizzyingly vertical cliffs of red and black volcanic rock. Several villages sit like scoops of cream on the rim of the old volcano right around the water-filled caldera of the original eruption.

The explosion split the old island of Santorini into two and water flooded into the caldera to a depth of around 375 metres, far too deep for visiting cruise ships to drop anchor and so they must tie to floating buoy.

The tidal wave that followed this extraordinary eruption is thought to have destroyed the Minoan civilisation that had grown on the northern shore of the island of Crete.

Volcanic ash more than 30 metres thick covered what was left of Santorini and quarrying the resultant pumice was central to the island's economy until tourism took off in a big way.

The ancient eruption is not the only one in Santorini's history. There have been many more since and a series of eruptions in the 18th century eruptions threw up the islet of Nia Kameni which now lies at the centre of the caldera.

As recently as 1956 a series of severe earthquakes demolished much of the main resort village of Fira and reduced many homes in neighbouring Oia to rubble.

Pleasure boat excursions to the volcanic islets in the Santorini caldera and these days very popular with Santorini holiday visitors.

The main islets of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni still bubble away and daily boat trippers walk the steep ash slopes for their own experience of walking on a live volcano with the air is full of sufur fumes and hot, black ash underfoot.

Boat excursions to Palea Kameni can also include a dip in the volcanic waters and the mud of hot water springs. Other boats head for Thirassia, another part of the caldera rim that was split off from the main island.

Most tour boats head for the shingle beach at Korfos which lies below the village of Manolas where attractive tavernas sit between flower-decked houses.

Greek Island Holidays

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