Ahoy, Matey! A Boat Trip to Satorini’s Active Volcano

Saturday was our FAVORITE day on the island!  We ended the previous night in Oia and were starting our morning back there, bright and early. The night before, we arranged a trip with a local travel agency.  The plan was to first get on a boat from the port at Oia and sail our way to the volcanic caldera. So, we hopped on a local shuttle with several other couples and made our way down to the port. After dropping us off, the shuttle bus was supposed to return to Oia in order to pick up the remaining passengers.

Port in Oia from above--blocked by the cliffs

Made it!

Here comes our boat!

Ahh! Crystal clear water

Within 10 minutes of boarding, we pulled away from the port.  Umm, and about that other busload of paid customers?? Well, turns out that after he dropped us off, the shuttle bus driver conveniently “forgot” about the rest of the patrons back in the village.  We watched him prop up his feet and smoke countless cigarettes.  Maybe, we thought, the next passengers get on a different boat?  Nope!  After getting 100 yards or so off shore, the shuttle bus came screaming down the road to the port, beeping its horn incessantly.  Apparently we had forgotten some people….duh!  We giggled as we returned to port to pick up the stranded customers.  Oh, Greece.

Pulling away from Port

Looking up at Oia

The water was a little choppy!

Fira from the boat

Nice Striations of Color

Approaching the volcano. Check out that volcanic rock!

Pulling into Port

After we pulled into port, we met with our tour guide, Mama Zoey.  Mama Zoey had lived on the island of Santorini all of her life and had been to the top of the volcano over 3,000 times!  No wonder she left us in the dust as she climbed!

Our group

This rock formation, as well as the island of Santorini, are what remains after a catastrophic volcanic eruption during the Minoan Times, long, long ago in 17 Century BC.  The islands themselves formed almost a complete circle, but after the powerful (7 magnitude) explosion, many of the islands have been completely underwater.  The legend of Atlantis actually dates back to this massive eruption, which is still one of the highest recorded ratings of any volcanic eruption. The colors of the beaches (red, white, and black) depend on which geologic layer was revealed after the top of the volcano literally blew off.  The volcano itself is still considered active with the last eruption having occurred in the 1950’s.

And so, with Mama Zoey providing all of the necessary information, we continued our way up to the top of the volcano. At one point she told us that we would be at the top in “4 Greek minutes.”  We learned enough from the bus schedule to know that 4 minutes could essentially mean either:

 1. We’re already on the top! 

2.  We’ve still got 15 minutes to go.  🙂

Volcanic Rock

Russ's need for photography landed us at the back of the group 🙂

Volcanic Crater

Fira

Near the top

Russ on the volcano

Boats!

Beautiful panoramic views

from the volcano

At the top of the volcano we stopped to learn more about the history of the island, and Mama Zoey dug a hole and let us feel the sulfur-y steam that escaped.  No, there was not any lava.  But the panoramic view of the surrounding islands was beautiful! We spent 20 minutes simply enjoying our surroundings.  Afterwards, we made our way cautiously down and back to the boat.  Some of the women on the tour chose to wear sandals or cute shoes….to hike. up. a .VOLCANO.  I had no sympathy for them when they slid their way down the mountain with dusty feet.  Mean? maybe.  But, seriously people.

After we arrived back at the boat, we headed to our second destination–the lava-heated mineral baths.  The boat stopped about 100 meters away from an area where the water turned considerably browner.  I had every intention of getting off of the boat and swimming in the mineral water–until Mama Zoey explained to us that it’s possible we’ll come back dirty and it’s most probable we’ll smell like sulfur for the rest of the day.  As one fellow traveler said to me, “THAT wasn’t in the brochure.”  It certainly wasn’t, but it was hot, and we had just climbed a mountain, and besides, who wants to miss an opportunity to jump off of a boat in the middle of the Aegean??  Not me.  I decided to swim…in an area away from the stinky water.

Others swim towards the mineral baths

I kept myself in the "unstinky" water

The spec on the right is me, making my way towards the church

ahhh

So incredibly refreshing!! After we successfully loaded all of the swimmers back into the boat (trust me, it wasn’t that easy), we headed to our final destination, the island of Therasia, for lunch.  Therasia has a population of about 300 people, mostly fisherman.  There’s a school, but they don’t really have enough kids for it. 😉

Gyros for lunch and a great view

The Port

The several hundred stairs lead up to the actual town

Friend!

some of the other "restaurants" at the port

Fun day!

Beautiful!

When we got back to Oia, we took the bus to our hotel, where we spent some time swimming and relaxing.  I’m pretty sure we went back into Fira that night for dinner, but we actually have *gasp* no pictures!  It was nice for Russ to walk around and enjoy the environment without worrying about pictures.  I can assure you, though, the sunset was amazing. 🙂

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for sharing – beautiful pics. The stairs in that one pic – probably do not look the same way at the Stairmaster in the gym ever again:)

    Reply

  2. Years ago, me and my wife were in créte and did the Samaria gorge. You can’t imagine the shoes some wore to do the 16km descent in a rocky riverbed.
    Beautiful pics. This island is definetly on my list.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Brita on July 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Your posts remind me of when Kevin and I travel. I am the constant absorber of information-from plaques, from tour guides, from people around me- while Kevin takes all the pictures. There have been many times where I was glued to a tour guide’s side, while Kevin was yards behind the last tourist in our group. But it’s fun to compare notes later, as I look at his pictures and match them up with what I learned about the area we visited!

    Reply

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