What is it like to go Sailing in Santorini?

On our first day in Santorini, there was a moment when I doubted the cluster of tiny houses on a faraway mountain to snow! A part of the hill was maroon, and the rest was dark brown. The afternoon sea colour was light blue. Late afternoon, it glittered silver. By evening, it began to glow gold. After a rain, it is the rarest purplish blue we have ever seen! The sea remained still with no waves all time. It made it feel like the water was shallow The only way we realised the depth of the seawater was by seeing the giant cruise ships sailing.

The entire Santorini island is a result of a volcanic eruption.

Brown mountains by the seaside with white cluster of white houses on top in Santorini

But the calmness of the sea doesn’t give a hint of it. A luxury resort manager Ms Haara whom we met talked about sulphite-coloured rocks, black mounds and a hot water spring nearby while we sipped wine while watching a fantastic sunset in Firostefani. We were intrigued by her description and wanted to sail on the Aegean sea but were concerned about the price. We stood in front of a sailing tour organiser’s office for a while. Finally, we decided we could make money later in our life. But, this good time may not come again.

So we booked sailing for the next day – Thank god, we made the right decision.

Indian traveller standing by the boat edge during sailing in Santorini

Things to Know before Santorini Sailing

There are 100s of companies to take you on Sailing in Santorini. And each one of them got at least ten options- sunrise sailing, sunset sailing, half-day, full-day, overnight stay, private yacht, Group tour and so on. So you’ve got to choose as per your convenience and budget.

We opted for – Captain Ted’s Santorini Sailing. 

TYPE OF TOUR – Semi-private Blue lagoon 1
COST PER HEAD-12500 INR or 150EURO(in the year 2018)each. Incl. Pick up and drop from any part of Santorini Lunch, wine, water on the boat, and snorkelling equipment.
DURATION OF TOUR – 5 HR, 10 am to 3 pm

Yatcht sailing

Isn’t that sight worth the money??

SAILING ITINERARY -Start at Vihada marina, Cruise by white and red beaches, a stop for swimming in the freezing cold water, the second spot for swimming near natural hot water spring, View of Venetian lighthouse, end the Cruise at Oia.

You can’t modify their itinerary unless you opt for a private tour which is even more expensive.

What do you wear on a catamaran cruise in Santorini?

Come in lighter clothing and get changed in the toilet when you want to sunbathe or jump into the water. Read our post “What to wear in Greece” to know more.

The Catamarans had a changing room and a clean toilet. Make sure to put the wiped paper rolls in the dust bin, not into the commode.

Bring your towels. They give towels, but you have to be comfortable using someone else’s towel.

Can you drink while on a boat?

The wine, sunshine, breeze and endless deep blue sea are as dreamy as it sounds. Make sure you don’t overdrink wine/champagne that you end up puking. Most times, the sea remained calm; at times, there was a bumpy ride for a minute long.

You won’t get seasick because there are no waves. Still, if you feel sick, ask your captain for a pill.

Specify your food type – Veg or Non-Veg. You must specify if you don’t want beef or pork in prior.

 Make sure you swim before lunch and not later. It gets too difficult to swim after a heavy lunch on the boat.

Can you see dolphins in Santorini?

I saw some sailing companies add this to their advertisement. But I doubt it! It has to be a particular season and a specific spot. Plus “Thou shall be the chosen one”

The water was cold. Probably around 15*C. Unless you are sure of swimming skills in cold water, don’t jump into the water. 

The best spot to sit in the Catamarans to enjoy the journey to the fullest is the main deck with a net.

Why are we glad to spend a big chunk of money on Sailing?

Even on the day of Sailing, we were doubtful if it was the right decision to take up Sailing. In a day, we blew up 25000 INR! Is it going to be worth it? Was our question? So we went to our local baker Boulangerie in perissa like any previous day. The cashier recognised since we been his regular customer for the last 3 days. The conversation began with our basic Greeks and his little English.

After asking about the day’s plan, he said, “very good. Very good. Sailing beautiful. Too much money but beautiful.” A local baker himself likes sailing means; it must be beautiful, we thought. After a cup of coffee and some bread, a car picked us up from Perissa. It was supposed to be group picking, but we were the only ones from Perissa. We reached the port with a towel and an extra pair of innerwear in a tiny backpack. The catamarans of different sailing agencies had lined up waiting for the tourists.

The Vihada Marina – apparently we saw fewer boats because it wasn’t a peak season!

After getting on to the boat, the usual introduction of the sailing captain, his helper and chef, instructions about what if you fall in the sea – Safety precautions happened. The most critical instruction followed the general safety instructions: ”


It is not only the sailing boat; everywhere else in Greece, you must put the used toilet paper in the dustbin, not the commode.

It is amazing how local hosts narrate certain things in a colloquial language so that you understand their beloved town better. THe word “Cycladic” and “Caldera” pops up everywhere while you read about Santorini. But what is it really? – The captain explained us in detail.

What are the cliffs in Santorini called?

The Santorini cliffs are called Caldera. As per the dictionary Caldera means “volcanic crater that has a diameter many times that of the vent and is formed by the collapse of the central part of a volcano or by explosions of extraordinary violence” So the beauty you see here is because of a best that erupted in 1620 BC.

The Sailing began with just a hi, and hello with the fellow travellers. It isn’t that we all were grumpy; nobody knew how to break the ice. Each of us was thinking, what if the other person didn’t want to have a conversation!

Initially, most of us didn’t want to sit on the net part of the boat. All of us were thinking, what if it gets broken, you fall directly under the boat into the cold water! So most of us sat inside under a shaded area with formal seating or on the deck by the captain’s side.

The boat exited the marina.

We were going to the middle of nowhere. We could see the white patches on a faraway brown mountain. The colour of the sea was brilliant. The ocean was humming its song in the cold breeze. The water was splashing now, and when the boat hit a slightly larger wave, a louder thud was a piece of rhythmic beat to the sound of the breeze. I never knew how it felt to let my hair out in the sea breeze until then. The fear “is the boat safe enough; I am not a great swimmer if something goes wrong” was still in our minds.

One of the fellow travellers slowly changed to her bathing suit and went to the edge of the boat. She held on to the railings but left it and sat peacefully, letting her hair fly. She even moved to the net area in the middle after a while. This time everyone’s eyes were hooked on her. What if the net breaks and she falls to the boat’s bottom directly into the water” was our worry! The captain understood; he laughingly shouted,” Don’t fear, let yourself loose. I am not going to let you die drowning. The net is safe and secure” One by one changed to their bathing suit and began to enjoy the sunshine on the deck, and so did we!

Sunbathing on the black sands of Perissa was blissful, but this is another level.

The boat bumping the waves takes you up and down. You are surrounded by nothing but endless water, and volcanic mountains pass by you every second. Every now and then, the backdrop kept changing. Each rock was of a different shape. Everything had its own colour. Captain took us closer to a few caves that continued underwater. After a while, it was the lighthouse somewhere on the horizon. The best part of the Sailing was awaiting us. Near the red sand, our captain stopped the boat and said,” Alright, whoever knows swimming, jump off to the water. If you swim 100m towards your right, you find a natural hot water spring formed due to an active volcano.”

Are there hot springs on Santorini?

Yes! And we didn’t know. Three excited girls humped into the water! God, they were pros. One swam 100m straight to the hot water spring within probably a minute or so! The other two girls were floating on the deep blue water in tranquillity. Then another fellow male traveller got into the water slowly. He wasn’t a pro, but he made it look easy for us.

Both of us are amateur swimmers. We had no idea we would entertain our fellow travellers when we got into the water.

We had tried our luck already at Perissa beach. Thinking the water was warmer than Perissa’s because it is near an active volcano, Sahana dipped her feet in the water.

How hot are Santorini hot springs?

Freak! The water was still cold. The beaming sun and an active volcano didn’t seem to help the coldness at all! With all their courage, she took a dip. The legs felt frozen. Before things went wrong, she swam back to the boat soon after going 5m ahead! I thought I could do better than her, but I was no different.

We didn’t want to give up. Shivering and screaming, we held on to the boat ladder with our bodies in the water still. We just looked up; the fellow travellers were enjoying our show! They giggled, looking at two struggling idiots trying to swim in the cold water. We started to laugh too. From behind, A man said,” I was away. After seeing you struggling, I thought you might need help to get back to the boat. Don’t worry. I got your back if you want to try again.” We burst into laughter and felt so relieved. A stranger we met on the boat a few minutes ago was ready to help us! He held Sahana’s hand and helped her swim. Probably she went ahead 20m and came back. He came back to me and took my hand. We went swimming forth.

I felt I won something great after I swam in the Mediterranean water – Evident on my face right?

We had inspired many other amateur swimmers on the boat to jump into the water. The other three pro swimmers who had gone near the hot water spring returned to the boat to help more people like us. Each one removed their dress and began to dip. An entire set of strangers were helping each other to have fun without even knowing their names! Everyone in the boat had broken their barriers and was discussing who was the worst swimmer 😀

Everyone wanted to be on the deck with a good dose of laughter, a chilling breeze shining sun, and a wet body. People began to talk about where they were from and so on. Finally, we all crashed on that central net area to dry ourselves.

John Denver was undoubtedly true.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.
Sunshine almost always makes me high.

They were sailing through weird formations; some were black, few were white. The sulphite-coloured mountain looked as if a high tide had frozen in time. Older people chose the shaded lounge to relax, and youngsters were on the deck sunbathing. The conversations were going on among everyone. Finally, the captain called us to see if anyone was interested in helping the chef with Barbeueing! Three of us caught the Prawn roasting aroma and ran to the kitchen.

Can you cook on a sailboat?

Yes! The amount of equipment and ingredients that they had arranged in a small catamaran is crazy. The chef smilingly asked what we wanted to do. One of us kept flipping the prawn; the other smeared lemon, and I spread fresh veggies over the roasted fish. When you get a chance to help a chef, don’t ever miss it. You are the first one to taste his unique dishes. After that, you get to eat more than the rest – All three of us working promptly with a glass of wine in hand and a spatula in the other.

Lunch on sailing

By around 1.30, all were called out for lunch. The menu was some barbecue chicken fillets, prawns, bread, penne pasta, salads, bread and wine. I won’t say that the food was excellent. Seafood was perfect, but Sahana’s veg food was just ok.

This time everyone wanted to sit where there was sunshine than in an inside room. But unfortunately, by the time three of us helped the chef come out of the kitchen, the sunshine deck was already full. So we settled for something that was inside. The table had people from all over the world – 2 Russian girls travelling in Greece for ten days and worldwide past three months. A couple living in America- He is from Prague, she is from Indonesia.

PS – We both have no memories of their names though we spent hours together.

The lunch lasted for an hour, with each of us sharing our experience in Greece plus around the world, what they do for a living and so on. This was our very first time in Europe, so many things were new.

We both found something very different from India: In India, when you sit among a group like this you will find a techie or an ex-techie/doctor or someone who has done two degrees. their profession and education. The only people who had been to college in that group of six were the Czech guy and us! The other three had done high school and had coaching courses related to their job, but not precisely college. So each of their profession was unique.

What is downshifting in life?

The two ladies from Russia were Azebhaijainis by ethnicity. One of them had a marketing job; the other was a hairstylist before quitting to travel the world. They were both on a break from work to think about what they wanted to do in their lives – Downshifting.

The couple living in America was on the quest of getting USA citizenship to live their American dream. However, her south-east Asian appearance and surname were problematic for her. She asked us to suggest a better second name for her which sounds American! Her spouse’s second name ended with “Lova” because his forefathers were from the Soviet. She didn’t want to add a Soviet surname which would confuse Americans more because of her Asian appearance. Still, she didn’t want her Asian surname either!

The bandwidth for our topics in conversation over sailing was broad and wide!

It started with how to take good care of hair and how beautiful Azerbaijan is and still why people don’t go there. It continued with famous Indonesian cuisines were, how to avoid Bali and see other islands of Indonesia to avoid the crowd. Ultimately, it was about what was Soviet, and why are Russians portrayed as villains in many Hollywood movies. We ended it with how was Czechia when it was Czechoslovakia and which is the best beer in Czechia.

The volcanic mountains of Santorini

After lunch, the Sailing began again. There was a family of four – two young girls and their parents. They requested the captain if they could stop again for swimming. Since none of us objected to that, the captain also stopped the boat. This time we knew how cold the water was. We knew we were fit to dip in the water but not swim. Those two girls who requested and a lady from Spain who swam like an Olympian champion jumped again into the water.

When asked how can they swim in such cold water, they said, “We are used to swimming in Lake Michigan. That water is colder than here. We feel good swimming in this warmer water. We need more energy to swim there, but this feels less stressful. Plus we love swimming in cold water. It burns more calories than swimming in warm water. The blood circulation gets better.”

People from Tropical countries like India, especially South Indians, can never swim in cold water I guess!

We sat quietly for the last few minutes, soaking in the sun. It feels fantastic to sunbathe with the breeze hitting you hard on your wet body. Each bump the boat takes creates a sensation inside you. We would have missed the great stuff if we hadn’t come on Sailing. The weirdly shaped mountains, different colours of rocks, funfilled moments of struggling in cold water and cheerful conversations with the strangers who became our friends at the end. We got dropped at Oia and said goodbye to them all. We never crossed our paths again, but the day sailing on the sea and conversations over lunch are imprinted in our memories forever.

Would you mind spending money on sailing in Santorini? Let us know in the comment section below.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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