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I did a morning kayaking experience with Serenity Kayak in Santorini and it was an unforgettable experience. If you’re considering doing a Santorini sea kayak tour I recommend it.
At a Glance:
- This is the kayaking tour I did
- There’s also a sunset kayak tour which I think would be amazing too
- Trips last around six hours
- Groups sizes are kept small, maximum 8 people
- Cost is about 120 euro depending on which option you go for
What is the Sea Kayak Tour Like in Santorini?
Sea kayaking is a great way to tour and view the dramatic cliffs as they rise up out of the Aegean Sea like a black mountain. The caldera and the unique beaches of Santorini are the main focus of this tour, and you usually get to enter sea caves, too.
The kayaking tours normally have the option of a morning tour or a sunset tour.
Where Do the Kayak Trips Go?
You’ll need to confirm the exact details of your tour. And the route might be altered on the day depending on the weather. But usually, the kayaking tours run from the southern coast of Santorini and include a combination of Ballos Beach, White Beach, Mesa Pigadia (Black Beach) and/or Red Beach (Akrotiri beach).
What’s Involved in a Kayaking Tour?
I only have experience of Serenty’s tour, but I expect the other sea kayaking tours will follow a similar format. You can always check the details before you book and have a look at reviews.
Arrival and Registration
Kalliopi, the owner and our tour guide, along with her cute little dogs, greeted us at her base near Akrotiri. We were offered tea, coffee and other refreshments to welcome us. The morning was very relaxed and we were treated like family while we filled out a couple of registration forms.
And while we were doing the forms the very organised Kalliopi gave us various items for the day. She literally provided everything for us :
- waterproof sou’wester hat to keep the sun off
- bottle of water in a special holder for the kayak
- waterproof pouch to keep our phones dry
- picnic lunch box
- life jacket fitted to us
We headed down to Kampia Beach/Kambia Beach, just a few meters away with three kayaks setup waiting for us. There were two couples, me and Kalliopi. Kalliopi showed us how to sit properly in the kayak, how to paddle and how to steer with the peddles.
After that, packed the rafts with lunch, water bottles and other items, pulled the kayaks into the water and got in. We were off.
The Main Kayaking Tour
The crystal clear waters were calm and we could see all the way down to the bottom of the sea.
Clear waters in a cave
Kalliopi is an expert guide and really looked after us on the water. Everything about the tour was planned for our maximum enjoyment and/or safety.
Foggy Weather and Calm Seas
The weather was a bit off when we headed out. It’s often foggy in Santorini in the morning. Something to do with hot and cold air around the volcano, I think. It generally burns off as soon as the sun comes up and heats the air but it didn’t that day.
It did clear later and we got to enjoy blue skies for a bit. But the fog came back on our return. Luckily, the water was completely still throughout, which was perfect for us.
It didn’t take long to pass White Beach en route. (The sand isn’t white, it’s called that because of the white cliffs behind it.) It was empty, but it can get busy with people coming on the boat taxi from Akrotiri, the only way to access it.
We paddled on, and Kalliopi told us about the volcanic island and the spectacular rock formations and various colours we were seeing.
The pace was relaxed and we had plenty of time to see the caldera from a different perspective. Just being on the water was a wonderful experience. It was crystal clear and we could see the bottom in the shallow areas.
Soon we got to Mesa Pigadia Beach, our next stop and a popular stopping point for the daily boat trips.
We dragged the kayaks up to a small pebbled area at the end, away from the bigger boats.
Snorkeling and Lunch
There were snorkel kits in the kayaks, so we went off to explore while Kalliopi got lunch ready.
This was my favourite part. The water was cold because I swam to a deep section but there were steaks of hot springs coming through from the volcano too. There was enough marine life to make the snorkelling fun. Lots of fish and I spotted a beautiful jellyfish too. I wasn’t brave enough to do any cliff jumping but it was an option!
After paddling and snorkelling I was starting and expected to be offered a ham and cheese sandwich. Instead, we were presented with an exquisite meal.
We had delicious spanakopita (feta and spinach pie), olives from near where Kalliopi is from in Evia, salad and carrot sticks with scrummy fava. She even gave us a little pot of herbs to sprinkle on the salad.
It was all very lovely and there was no rush. We enjoyed our food and relaxed on the rocks watching the boats go by.
Heading Back Via the Sea Caves
After lunch, we headed back along the same route but via the caves.
Normally the tours go into the sea caves first but one of the couples made us late. Kalliopi changed things up so we weren’t in the cave when a large boat was scheduled to pass. It would have created waves and potential problems for us otherwise.
We learnt how to manoeuvre into the caves backwards to stay safe with an eye on the horizon. And my arms were grateful for the short break before we paddled the last section back to Kambia.
The fog was really thick by the time we got back on our route. I’m glad we were with Kalliopi as we saw a kayaking group from another company heading out.
They were paddling quite far out from the rocks amongst some of the boats. I’m not quite sure how well they’d have been seen by bigger boats, so it’s good our guide was so conscientious.
End of the Tour
At the end, we headed back for more refreshments before being dropped back at our pick-up points. Soon after we were sent a link to get copies of all the photos Kalliopi took on her GoPro while we were out on the water.
I had so much fun on this tour; all I can say is book your place it’s totally worth it! It’s a good idea to book as soon as you know when you want to go because the Serenity Tours do sell out in the peak months.
How Fit Do You Need to Be?
You don’t need to be super fit. I’d been worried my arms would tire out and while they were definitely feeling it towards the end, it was totally manageable. You’re not paddling for six hours straight.
Can Beginners Join the Sea Kayaking?
The Santorini sea kayak excursions are open to both beginners and experienced kayakers. We went in a double kayak, so you’re not on your own.
Is Hotel Pick-Up/Drop-off Included?
You’ll need to check the details but often transportation is included depending on where your accommodation is. I was staying somewhere a bit out of the way, so we arranged a meeting point part-way.
What Do I Need to Wear for a Santorini Kayak Tour?
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that can get wet. I’d recommend:
- t-shirt or rash vest
- swimsuit/bikini underneath
- water shoes/sporty sandals
On our trip, we were given hats to keep the sun off our heads and neck. If you book with another company, you might need to take your own. Make sure you have something to cover your shoulders since you’ll be under the sun (especially on the morning option).
Similarly, make sure you have suncream or shorts/capri-length trousers to cover your thighs where the kayak doesn’t cover them.
What Do I Need to Bring?
Definitely take a dry change of clothes with you for after.
If you’re not wearing your swimming costume you’ll need to take that with you in the kayak. If you’re changing out of it before kayaking back you might want to take a towel too.
Take your waterproof camera if you have one. You can get waterproof covers for phones in tourist shops too.
What Happens if the Weather’s Bad?
You’re less likely to be affected in summer, but if you go to Santorini in April or the autumn, you might encounter adverse weather conditions. In that case, you’re normally offered an alternative day, or you can choose to get a full refund. Check your trip terms when you book.
Other Helpful Information About Santorini
Santorini might not be the Greek island that first comes to mind for active pursuits, but there are more you can enjoy:
- see this beautiful island at its best along the caldera hike from Oia to Fira
- do a sunset hike below Skaros Rock or the Heart of Santorini
- enjoy more swimming and snorkelling on a boat trip
- hop seven minutes over to Thirassia and take an e-MBT biking tour
- join in the watersports at Perissa Beach
If the kayak tour was more than enough exertion then find some other things to do in Oia. Or chill out at one of Santorini’s best beaches, spend the day at a luxe beach club or experience some hospitality and local produce with a wine-tasting experience.
When you finish the tour in the south of the island, you’re close to Akrotiri Archaeological site, Akrotiri Lighthouse (pretty around sunset time but nice views all day) and The Cave of Nikolas traditional taverna.
If you’re looking for golden sand, you can find beautiful beaches a short hop away on Anafi (and a whole load of hiking if your energy comes back!).
For other ideas use the search bar at the top of the page.