So my last blog post was about why you should stay in Imerovigli, instead of Oia, when visiting Santorini. That may have sounded like I don’t like Oia, but I really did love it! How could you not? It’s unlike any city I’ve ever seen – the bright white buildings, the cave hotels, the endless steps that somehow all lead you back to wherever you’re headed, even though you just feel more lost with every step you take… There’s something so different and exciting about this place. Only issue is, I tend to get a little bit ‘people-claustrophobic’ as I like to call it, and the crowds there are so crazy that personally, I enjoyed relaxing away from the chaos more than being right in the middle of everything and everyone.
We stayed for 3 nights in Imerovigli and then headed to Oia for two nights. We stayed at the Fanari Suites, which were nice…but quite a bit overpriced for what they offered. The staff was great and the location was right in the middle of everything, but every other person was right on top of us and right on top of our room so we didn’t feel like we could enjoy it as much as we could in Imerovigli. We booked this hotel so we could watch sunset alone on our lanai (or patio if you aren’t used to Hawaii-lingo) yet we couldn’t see the full sunset and people were eating dinner 5 feet in front of our room, so we were basically staring at them, while trying to catch a glimpse of the sun going down. Still a lovely place, but I would save your money by staying somewhere less expensive and just scoping out a good sunset spot early. With all that said, their views and cave rooms were pretty great.
The reason we still loved Oia is because we made it our priority to find ways to escape the crowds and really enjoy the magic of this place. Here is a list of my favorite experiences in Oia and how to have them yourself!
1. I probably say this about every place I visit..but WAKE UP EARLY. Get up before the sun, go outside, explore, and enjoy having a busy city all to yourselves. There are very few people out at 5am and because of that, you can slow down, really see what the area has to offer, and take much better photos without having to photoshop a million heads out later. We hiked the trail from Oia to Imerovigli and back before anyone else was out and loved feeling like we were the only ones awake on the island. You can hike all the way from Oia to Fira, which I definitely recommend if you have time!
2. Swim in Amoudi Bay and jump off the platform! We did this later in the morning, around 10 or 11am and there was only one other couple out there with us. We watched people jump when we were on a catamaran trip the day before (which was also a great experience) and decided we had to go back and try it ourselves. We walked the steep steps down to the Bay, climbed in, swam over to the platform, climbed up the stairs to the top, and jumped off! Simple as that, peace of cake!
Okay…part of this is true. We did jump off…except it took me a little longer than I made it sound. Troy (my travel-partner/husband/voice of reason and the more practical half of this travel team) jumped right away, no problem. I stared down at the giant rock below the cliff and began stressing over how I could clear it without breaking a leg. In my mind, it was impossible..so I stood there with a debilitating fear taking over my mind and body, keeping me from jumping for well over 30 minutes. After several attempts where I walked up to the edge only to turn right back around yelling, “NOPE,” I was about to give up. Instead, Troy gave me one last pep-talk with literal step-by-step instructions on how to clear the rock “You really want to do this, just go up there, don’t think about it and F#@^%$& jump! You’ve got this!” For some reason, that’s the one that worked and I did it. Funny thing is it wasn’t bad at all. It wasn’t even that high. So glad he was able to talk me into it.
From the video he took, I can see that I cleared the rock by like 5 feet at least. So basically I was scared of absolutely nothing. The climb back up the steps to our hotel wasn’t as fun as it was on the way down. Lots of people ride the donkeys back up… but if you know me, you know there’s no way I’d ride an overworked animal up steps that I am perfectly capable of walking myself. No judgment, but those donkeys did not look like they were enjoying life very much…Okay, so maybe there’s a little bit of judgment. They looked miserable.
3. Ask your hotel for restaurant recommendations – but ask where THEY eat when they go out to dinner. Chances are the first suggestion will be the expensive tourist place with the nice view, which can be great – but if you’re looking for a real, authentic experience and the best food, find out where they would go themselves. We’ve found this to be the best question to ask, and we always love the places they send us to, even when they are hole in the wall spots with no view. Those are almost always the best! The woman working at Fanari Villas recommended we try Candouni Restaurant and we were not disappointed. If you go here – get the walnut cake for dessert. Doesn’t sound that amazing, does it? Wrong. It’s to die for, and it’s their specialty, so make sure to try it! The food here is fresh, delicious and authentic and the people working there are so friendly and kind. We had an amazing experience and wish we could go back!