Located in the southernmost part of Santorini — roughly 12 kilometres southwest of its capital Fira — is the famed Akrotiri Red Beach (a.k.a. Kokkini Beach). It boasts the mesmerizing view of dark blue water meeting red-hued sand, surrounded by high cliffs that are just as red. The beach’s sand gets its unique color from the black-and-red pulverized volcanic rock from the nearby Santorini caldera.
How to Get There
The Akrotiri Red Beach can be reached in a number of different ways.
- By Car. If you rent a car in Santorini, you can leave it at the parking space near the cliff, before making your way down to the beach.
- By Bus. Take the bus from Fira for only 2 euros. Akrotiri is its last stop. From the bus stop, you can also go to the Akrotiri archaeological site. Note that the bus is not very frequent, so make sure you check the timetable and plan carefully.
- By Boat. This is probably the coolest way to get to the Red Beach because you get to see its splendor from the sea. You can take the boat from Akrotiri Port, Kamari, or Perissa.
What to Expect
The morning was cloudy. On the bus ride, there was one stretch of the road where it felt as though we were driving in the clouds. The bus dropped us near the Akrotiri excavation site, where some of the older ladies from our bus headed to. As for me, I didn’t want to see any more ruins after Acropolis.
So, I joined the few others walking to the beach. There was a signboard pointing to the Red Beach, and we only had to walk straight from there.
Lining the street were some shops and taverns. Before we knew it, we had reached the beach parking lot, where there were a couple of fruit stalls.
If you come in the low season and plan to picnic here, you better bring your own food and drinks, or buy at one of those fruit stalls on the cliff. There are no more sellers beyond that point.
After that, you’ll have to walk a little bit more through a somewhat narrow ledge on the hillside and climb down some rocks to get to the beach. In total, the walk from where the bus dropped us took about 15 minutes.
I personally think it was not a challenging feat, or at least not as challenging as reported on some other blogs. It can be attempted by any able-bodied person; you don’t have to be a really fit or experienced hiker.
Wearing sturdy shoes definitely made it easier for me, but it shouldn’t be entirely impossible to do it in flip-flops, as long as you go more slowly and take extra care on the rocks.
The ‘red sand’ wasn’t all that pretty up close. The beach only looked great when seen from a distance. Upon closer inspection, its sand actually looked more black than red, and very pebbly especially near the water’s edge. It was the surrounding cliffs that were redder than the beach itself, and probably gave the beach its name.
There are no water sports facilities available on the beach, so if you wish to partake in any, make sure you bring your own equipment. Apparently, it is home to some interesting underwater rock formations and a rich marine life.
Is the Akrotiri Red Beach Safe to Visit?
Officially, the Akrotiri Red Beach is considered unsafe. Even hotels and tour operators have been instructed to discourage visitors from trekking down to the beach.
And that’s because people have actually died there from landslides and rockfall, causing the beach to be closed down for some time in the recent past. Some parts of it are still inaccessible due to the slides. But visitors still flock there by the hundreds every day during summer. They do so at their own risk.
Just as I was leaving, a stone of about half the size of my fist fell down from the cliff, followed by a steady trickle of smaller pebbles. It was right in front of me. Granted, the stone probably wasn’t big enough to cause any serious damage, but I imagine it would still piss me off a great deal if it had landed on my head.
Is the Akrotiri Red Beach worth visiting?
Well, if you have a lot of time on Santorini, then I would say this is a must-visit, if only for the fact that there are very few red-sand beaches in the world. The view from on top of the cliff was truly spectacular.
But you can pretty much end your visit there. I don’t think it’s the best beach for swimming or sunbathing. Then again, I’m not easily impressed by beaches, because I’m from Southeast Asia — I think we have some of the world’s best ones over here.
For some people, the Akrotiri Red Beach might be too secluded and uncommercialized (at least, during the low season). Plus, it needs some hiking to get to and there’s the risk of rockfall. But if you find thrill in seclusion and a hint of danger, then this would be perfect for you.
I’m not so much into beaches in the first place because I don’t like sand — it gets everywhere. I mean, it was fun when I was a kid and wasn’t the one doing the laundry. But if I do have to get sand all over my hair and bikini bottom, I’d rather have the fine white variety.
Have you visited Akrotiri Red Beach, Santorini? Did you enjoy it? Share your experience in the comments section below.