Why you need to take a catamaran tour in Santorini
When people ask me what my most favorite thing was while I was in Greece (Athens excluded because it's on a different level than the islands), I always say it was the 1/2 day catamaran tour I took around Santorini. In my opinion the best way to see this beautiful place is from the water - the way Poseidon intended.
After hearing nothing but amazing things about Sunset Oia my friend and I booked the Ammoudi Ocean Voyager Day Tour. For those who want the best of both worlds there is also a sunset tour that another friend told me was just as awesome. Both tours have the same itinerary, with the day tour starting in the morning and the sunset tour starting in the afternoon and ending with that famous Santorini sunset. We paid around $110 USD, but that included the boat ride (which let me remind you is for an entire half day), food and unlimited drinks, and snorkeling activities.
HOW TO GET TO THE BOATS IN OIA
There are a couple options when it comes to getting to the boat at Ammoudi Bay. A nice thing with Sunset Oia is they do provide a free shuttle service from your accommodations to the boat launch.
If you're in Thira...
Schedule a pick-up with Sunset Oia's free shuttle
Take the local bus to Oia, walk to Sunset Oia's office and take the shuttle from there down to Ammoudi Bay
If you're feeling like you need a little exercise: take the local bus to Oia and walk down to Ammoudi Bay (just allow yourself extra time because most likely you will take pictures on the way down!)
If you're in Oia...
Schedule a pick-up with Sunset Oia's free shuttle
Walk down to the bay - and similar with the Thira options, give yourself extra time for photos!
PERKS OF BEING ON A CATAMARAN IN SANTORINI
You get free lunch! And it's awesome. You'll choose your protein or veggie option in advance (they don't remember once you get on the boat so if you change your mind, go for it), and the rest is buffet style including salad, tazkiki, hummus, pita, pasta, and dolmades.
There are also unlimited drinks, which aren't just water. Wine, beer and ouzo are free flowing for your entire journey! And this isn't the cheap, generic kind - these are awesome Greek made beverages. But remember...everything in moderation (unless you want to pass out) since you're out in the sun all day, jumping off the boat, tanning and swimming.
THE EXPERIENCE OF TAKING A CATAMARAN IN SANTORINI
The views from the catamaran are unreal - and a huge part of the reason you should do this. There is no other way you are going to see Santorini from inside the caldera. Unless you know someone with a boat...
After we left Ammoudi we headed to the hot springs, which are heated by the live volcano in the caldera. I'm not going to lie, when I heard hot springs I thought it would be similar to an actual hot tub (or whirlpool as some of my friends call it). Just prepare yourself, it's more like bathwater. Or as some of my boat mates and I agreed, it felt more like spots where someone may have just peed. But nonetheless it was fun to be in a part of the Aegean that is naturally heated!
Thing to note: They let you jump off the boat and swim into the little cove area and there are a bit of waves. If you're not the strongest swimmer they have life vests for you.
After spending about 30 minutes in the springs we were called back and headed off to our next destination....the Red Beach.
While there you could sunbathe, jump off the boat and swim around, or swim over to the actual beach. As we had only about 45 minutes here I chose to jump off the boat a few times and swim around nearby.
Throughout this entire experience I was savoring the freshing Greek wine - I'm not a beer girl. It was perfect as I sat on the mesh areas at the front of the catamaran, as we sailed in the beautiful Greek sunshine.
From the Red Beach we headed to our final destination, the White Beach. This is where we spent a majority of our time (about an hour and a half), and had the full spread for lunch. As I mentioned earlier you get to pick your protein (chicken, pork or vegetarian) and get the works in the form of a buffet.
Before lunch they gave us snorkeling gear and we jumped into the water to explore around and see all of the fish. This is AMAZING! I have never been in water so clear! The fish were super easy to see swimming around below us, and it was so fun seeing all of my boat mates having a great time.
After our little water activity and lunch it was time to head back to Ammoudi Bay. By the time you head back to the bay you undoubtedly will have made a handful of new friends. We met two awesome Australian girls, and an American couple who live one state over from me in New Jersey (who decided to go cliff jumping with us afterwards).
Overall this was one of the best experiences I have had on a vacation. The staff and crew over at Sunset Oia were nothing but accommodating and fun! Not only will you have the best time getting a once-in-a-lifetime view of Santorini, but you'll make memories to last a lifetime.
TIPS TO NOTE
Before or after your catamaran ride go cliff jumping off a path behind Sunset Tavern restaurant in Ammoudi Bay.
in addition to Sunset Oia there is another yacht tour called Santorini Yacht Club that we saw in the bay which is the same price. It looked just as fun so either one should give you a great afternoon.