The Red Beach of Santorini is famous all over the world and the most popular among the beaches of the island, an attraction true to the particular nature of this place. Located in the southeastern part of the island, in the area of Akrotiri, approximately 8 km from Fira.
Its name is a tell-tale sign of what the visitors will encounter when approaching it – if of course they can believe that it “tells” the truth… And yet, this beach is actually red: red, impressive rocks that form steep cliffs, red sand and a sea of deep blue, reflecting also the bright red of the landscape. A landscape truly ‘alien’ that scientists have only perhaps encountered on … Mars, the “Red Planet” – without of course the beautiful sea!
Obviously the Red Beach was created by the volcano – perhaps its most impressive work of art. The nature itself, as a talented sculptor continues to transform this artwork, as the salt, the sun, the rain water and of course the wind still mold the impressive cliffs and constantly give them new shapes. Sunlight, it could be said, works on highlighting this “work of art” and so, depending on the time of day, the Red Beach looks sometimes like red fire, sometimes is more akin to dark velvet…
In order to reach the Red Beach you have two options. The first is to follow the road towards the beach in Akrotiri, just after the archaeological site and from there take one of the boats that make the trip to the beach every half hour during the summer months. By sea, ie by boat, one can reach the Red from the beaches of Perissa and Kamari, situated nearby. The second, more adventurous option is by taking the path. Aspiring hikers can get by car to the parking in Akrotiri, next to the church of Agios Nicholas, and from there continue on foot. The trail is short, if somewhat tedious as it goes both uphill and downhill, but it gives a unique opportunity to the hikers to admire the volcanic rocks up close and, of course, the impressive coast from above.
Red Beach, in addition to red sand (derived mainly from the rocks), has also at some points the distinctive black sand of Santorini, as well as white sand – which is very rare on the island. The small bay formed by the rocks is relatively calm, except when there are south winds blowing – and even then the waves usually do not prevent visitors from enjoying swimming.
There are umbrellas and sun beds on the sand almost all along the coast, leaving little free space, while nudism is also allowed here. Among the swimmers enjoying the sun and the sea, you will often find vendors with fruits in their baskets that will refresh even the most … feeble of the swimmers. On the beach you can also rent marine bicycles or canoes, while the rocks that are scattered in the small bay provide the opportunity for countless dives into the crystal clear water.
What you should definitely keep in mind when visiting the Red Beach is precautions against the sun and the heat: hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with a high SPF are necessary, as well as appropriate shoes for hiking the trail – there are many who claim that “when in Santorini the weather is hot, on the Red Beach the temperature is … twice as hot!” It is also a good idea to bring enough water for one day under the hot sun, but that can be also obtained from the two canteens operating on the beach.
What you should also know is that the island’s authorities have issued a banning Directive for attending the beach years ago, due to the frequent landslides, and whoever decides to visit the beach does so of his own responsibility.
The entire area where the Red Beach is located is full of attractions and gives visitors the opportunity to experience Santorini apart from the volcano and the caldera. There is the archaeological site of Akrotiri, where one can admire the remarkably good state of the prehistoric settlement of the area that was destroyed by the great eruption. Today the site is open to the public and is considered one of the most important sites of the entire eastern Mediterranean. Many people combine a visit to the prehistoric village with swimming in the Red Beach, since after a tour of the archaeological site they can reach the sea on foot.
If someone wants to visit, together with the Red, also the White Beach of Santorini, this can be done by taking a boat from the shore and going south, as this small beach with the white rocks – also unique to the island – is situated very close by.