All of these places have their own starkly desolate beauty, and Greece’s Nea Kameni is no exception. Visible from Santorini, the uninhabited volcanic island looks like a black mass. Up close, its nuances come into focus.
Nea Kameni was the first stop on a daylong sailing trip we took in the waters around Santorini. After a short ride from Fira’s harbor, our wooden boat—reminiscent of one long-ago pirates might have manned—pulled up to Nea Kameni and moored alongside piles of ebony-colored rubble.
A steep, dusty trail snaked up the hillside, leading across tan, red, and black rock and past masses of bright yellow flowers, signs of the life that thrives even in seemingly inhospitable environments like this one. Steam seeped from openings in the rocks as the volcano breathed beneath the surface. (Nea Kameni last erupted in 1950 and its activity is regularly monitored.)
The higher we climbed, the better and more expansive the views.
At the pinnacle, where the trail continues around the rim of the crater, we drank in the scenery. What sets Nea Kameni apart from the other volcanic landscapes we’ve experienced is the setting. Rather than standing in an expansive lava field where dark, hardened magma stretches far and wide, here at the summit of this two-kilometer-wide island you can marvel at the vividly blue Aegean all around.
After a brief stop at some hot springs, our next port of call was the island of Thirasia. More energetic people than us used their time to explore the clifftop town, reached on foot via a hardy walk or by paying to let a donkey do the hard work. Having just climbed a crater we had no interest in either walking up ourselves, nor did we want to burden the animals with our bulk. Instead we had a leisurely lunch at a waterside restaurant, where grilled octopus was on the menu.
Our route back to port took us from Oia to Fira along the same five-mile stretch that we had hiked a couple of days earlier—giving us a completely different perspective on Santorini’s splendor.
Note: We booked our day trip with Dakoutros Bros JV Santorini Day Trip (€23/person) and were happy with the outing. They offer other excursions as well, including one to the volcano only and sunset tours. There are also plenty of other companies in Fira and Oia offering similar services. All opinions are our own, because we pay our own way. 😉
Aski don’t miss What to Do in Santorini Part I