Day 4 – ATV adventure across Santorini
The next day started off much like the first, with a traditional Greek breakfast on the veranda overlooking the cruise ships and Aegean Sea. You are absolutely paying for the view at The Kavalari Hotel and its worth every penny. The morning dew on the blue topped domes, a slight ocean breeze, the sun peeking from behind the Caldera, birds chirping, restaurant owners cleaning up before the breakfast rush, store owners sweeping their entry ways; and this was what we could see from breakfast. It was one of my favorite parts of the day at this location. It was just perfect.
After breakfast we went to the front counter to rent an ATV for the day. The staff at the hotel was most accommodating and quickly attended to our needs, I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality.
Pro Tip: If you’re new to this website, I am an experienced ATV rider. I would not recommend renting an ATV if you are not an experienced rider. The traffic in Santorini is INSANE and it’s very dangerous. Also, if you have two people and are sharing an ATV, make sure to get a 300cc or higher engine.
We signed the paperwork and our ATV was waiting just steps outside of our hotel. We packed the included luggage rack on the back of the ATV with beach towels, extra water and my camera equipment, I dialed in the GPS directions and off we went! Vroom vroom!
Our destination for today was Ammoudi Bay at the northern most tip of the island. I will prefix this by saying this was my absolute favorite place in Santorini! We took off from the Fira and navigated through the Santorini countryside on mostly the East side of the island. This side of the island is very different than the caldera side. It mostly consists of fields, bungalows, wide open roads, few people and lower elevation. Basically, the opposite of the sea side cliffs on the densely populated West side, its considered country living on the island. As we made our way to Ammoudi bay we were diving in and out of the huge rolling hills (which were more like mountains) of Santorini. The drive on the ATV was incredible and I’m so glad we chose to “ride” this one out instead of being in a car or bus.
We were able to see so much of the landscape and cover a lot of ground quickly. Finding the bay proved to be a little difficult using GPS as the GPS only brought us so far. Luckily, I did my research beforehand and recognized some landmarks at which to turn at. There were some signs but only every so often down the road, so it wasn’t crystal clear. What was crystal clear though, was the water in the bay, oh my god. Eventually we made it and parked on the hilly slope near the bay. rocky bend to find the swimming hole. The bay was stunning and a must-see. Down below were sailboats, restaurants, along with locals and tourists alike taking in a fresh seafood meal and the sights and sounds the bay had to offer.
Birds chirping, waves washing ashore, bustling wait staff and hanging octopus. We grabbed our things and headed on a short hike through the sea-side restaurants and around the bend. We must’ve stopped every 15-20ft to take in the view of the bay, the volcano or boats going by in the distance. Finding a spot to put our things in the bay proved to be a little challenging as the volcano rocks jetted, zigedg and zagged. Something like these water shoes HERE would have been very helpful! Climbing up a few of the boulders and neatly tucked away from most of the crowd, we stashed our things in a place we felt it wouldn’t get stolen. We changed into our bathing suites and made our way to the water.
One drawback of the beautiful bay was that the water was freezing. I found this odd, as this was the end of summer, the first week in September to be exact. There was a spot where everybody was jumping or climbing in the water and we made our way, albeit very slowly. The water was so cold it was shocking at first, it felt like my bones froze and at that instance I knew how Jack felt when he jumped off the Titanic. I might be exaggerating a little bit, but it did take a little while to get used to it. We stopped wasting time looking at each other’s frozen faces and blue lips and slowly crawled off the rocks in the water. We started swimming away from shore and before we knew it, we didn’t even realize we were cold anymore. Equipped with no life jackets and flotation devices, our destiny was right in front of us nearly at nearly 50 meters ahead.
There is a famous little church nestled on the side of the cliff stationed offshore. Locals and tourists alike dive off the cliff side into the sea, which is about a 25ft drop or so. After I arrived at the base of the cliff to make the climb up the wall of century old lava, I gave the look over to Amanda to see if she was going to join me. She thought about it for a second and she just wasn’t sure about taking the plunge. No worries I said, wouldn’t want a great trip to turn into a bad trip and risk getting hurt, plus I needed somebody to film my jump anyways. The GoPro Session really came in handy here! Ha!
I had to be careful climbing up to the top because the rocks were covered in seaweed, algae and water, this wasn’t a man-made set of stairs. Once I was at the top looking back at the caldera and looking down at Amanda, it was totally worth it. The view was incredible, and I couldn’t wait to jump off the edge. I don’t really have a fear of heights, but I do have a slight form of vertigo. I knew the key to making the jump was to look at the edge quick and decide on my launch point and then step back a few feet, run and jump out. And that’s just what I did! I stepped back, took two and half steps forward, took a deep breath and belted out a rebel yell as I hung in the air for what felt like forever. I hit the water hard and tried to not panic but I didn’t realize how far down I had sunk into the ocean and came up coughing and out of breath. My ears had popped bad and my head started hurting a little bit.
I wanted to jump again but thought it was best to not chance it. I found another way up, the concrete dock on the side of the cliff was an easier route for Amanda to get a view for herself.
What a moment! Although I still couldn’t convince her to jump off the cliff, she did jump…off the dock, not the cliff. Next time, babeee! We jumped back in the water for a little bit longer, taking in the beautiful views and wading in the ocean. There weren’t many people out this far from the shore, so it was like we were there alone, and it was awesome. Before we got tired of swimming, we thought it was smart to head back to shore and check on our stuff. After we swam back, we didn’t stay too much longer because more adventure awaited. So, we picked up our belongings (which were not stolen, yay!) and headed back to the ATV.
The ATV seat was hot as the sun and we had to use our beach towel, so we could sit. As the bay got smaller and smaller in our rear-view mirror, we sped up the inclined street.
We quickly realized we were low on gas, like really low…so we pulled over to look at our next destination and navigation plans. We must’ve looked in duress because we had a few people stop and ask if we were OK and I said we were fine but needed some gas. I asked where the nearest gas station was and many did not know (dang tourists). Our worst fear set in as we were told it was back in town. We frantically checked our phone, comparing our GPS maps with gas stations we had Googled. Go figure, the nearest gas station was miles away. I don’t know how we made it, but we did eventually make it to the next gas station running on fumes. Once our tank was full, we could only help but notice that we were starving and needed to eat asap. Does the phrase HANGRY mean anything to you?!
We were back in Fira and on Main Street to stop at a local gyro place. The gyro and fries here were OK but I would wait it out next time for a more authentic place had we have not been so hungry. Our stomach full and a couple of hours of daylight left, we headed to our hotel for the next two nights. This was an epic adventure in its own. The trip was only about 5min or so, but we took some questionable roads up and around the caldera, which on an ATV, seemed more like a mountain. Luckily, we blended in with all the other crazies on the road. I think renting an ATV is the most popular way to get around on Santorini. With dirt in our teeth and sand in our hair and riding down a couple of sidewalk/alleyways later, we found our next hotel, Kalestesia Suites! The suites are located in Akrotiri, which is in the southern part of the island. We wanted a change of scenery and a different perspective so heading to the southern part of the caldera was in the plans.
We checked in, got changed, freshened up and headed right back out the door to catch the sunset at the infamous Akrotiri Lighthouse. Although there were a ton of people there, it was worth it. Such a beautiful location on the edge of the southern caldera, surrounded by the warm tones of golden hour.
As the sun set and the day turned to night, we headed back towards town but stopped at a local restaurant for some dinner. I have to admit on this trip I’ve had some of the best food I’ve ever experienced, each meal was so exciting to try something new. For those wondering or doing their research, the restaurant was called “Good Heart”. They are a traditional Greek restaurant and not the kind of touristy trap you would fine in some of the more popular towns. I had my first Crazy “Yellow” Donkey beer here as I’ve been wanting to try it since I first arrived. Crazy Donkey is well marketed on Santorin, as that’s the local brewery. After dinner we enjoyed our suite hot tub and gazed at the stars under the moonlight until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer.