This is a beautiful and spectacular island, but not great for its beaches, most of which are volcanic black. The island is a major destination for tourists from all over the world, and the prices in the main town of Fira are hiked for the benefit (?) of the many cruise boats that call there. Tourism is a big, and I mean big, operation here, something which itself has taken its toll.
For more information about Santorini try:
Santorini tourist guide This site includes a list of beaches filterable by naturism
A June 2001 visitor who is herself Greek said this:
"Things are not the same in Santorini, and it's not just a matter of naturism. Everything is geared towards maximizing the tourism industry, and it's hard (even being Greek) to feel that one is truly welcome there in the sense that those who profit from tourism will do their best to maintain an atmosphere of tranquillity and authentic hospitality. There is a lot of effort put into trying to impress visitors by offering a classier & expensive experience of the island, but that is not always accompanied by an effort to maintain the unique local flavour the island once enjoyed. Beware of buying anything in shops that say 'traditional' produce (herbs, fava peas, honey, etc.) because it is not always so. I hate to say this, because it is not in the best interest of the local producers. Just don't confuse the local producers (who sometimes sell from the back of a truck along the road) from the commercial shops."
The biggest package tour destination is Kamari, which is extremely developed with a long frontage of tavernas and tourist shops. Don't expect to be able to go nude here. When the Captain visited (September 1998) it was hard to spot even toplessness there.
The problem for naturists on Santorini was neatly described by one of my contributors, who said this:
"We visited Santorini in September 1987 and again in August 2000. In the intervening 13 years, Naturism has undergone a massive retrogression. In 1987, Santorini was approaching the ideal - a co-existence between naturists and non-naturists on almost every beach. The main sea front, at Kamari Beach, was non-naturist but, as soon as the tavernas began to thin out, any inhibitions vanished. At Perissa, where the beach is less overlooked, naturists could be found right along the sea front.
"Today, only a handful of furtive naturists can be found on the whole island. Prohibition signs appear at former naturist beaches. Clearly, there has been an official crackdown. However, the underlying cause, of the virtual demise of Naturism on Santorini, is the vast expansion of the tourist industry. Red Beach and Limani Beach at Monolithos, little frequented in 1987, are now lined with beach umbrellas. Naturism has been squeezed out and, until a complete change of attitude can be brought about, quieter islands must be sought out."
Despite these unpropitious circumstances there are still places where naturism can be practised.
Koloumbo beach is said to be a very nice beach (black sand with pebbles) near Oia. There is no bus service so you will need your own transport or a taxi. On the black sand beach, it is almost impossible to run without flip-flops.
There is now (May 2007) a big sign in red on a wall near the main road between Fira and Oia ("Nudism Koulombos"). From there, take the little road going down to the eastern side of the island; a few metres after the church, take the road along the coast to the left. When the road is close to the beach, there is a small (unmarked) parking place between the road and the beach.
Coming from Oia, take the paved road off the main road towards Baxedes on the new coast road (not a dirt track any more). When the road approaches the water it turns right. Follow it. Go another 3.9 km (approx). When you pass Paradiso beach you have still 1.8 kilometres to go. A new white building is on the left. A small road and parking area are just past this building.
The road from Oia bends to the right going uphill, as the old road did. Here is the parking area. Coming from Vourvoulos you can see Cape Koloumbo from afar. You can't see the beach, which is behind the cape. When you go over the cliff you'll see the white building on your right hand side. It's quite easy to miss the building, so one of my contributors has thoughtfully sent me a picture of it. There is quite a bit of space down to the right of the building to park. Note the picture was taken coming from the Oia direction.
A good tip regarding finding this beach (it can be tricky) is when you drive from Vourvoulos, you see a sign "Koloumbo" and the road turns left over a cliff (I'm sure my contributor didn't quite mean that). There the road turns right and left again close to the white building.
At the right turn is a taverna, I believe the name is "Soulis", and a parking place on the sea side of the road. Park there and you can follow the path downwards to what some contributors think is the nicest beach on Santorini!
It is possible to walk from Oia to the beach. The shortest and most agreeable way is over a dirt road, which starts at Finikia, the small village near Oia. Finding this road may be difficult. It starts near a chapel with a blue dome in the lower east end of the village (close to the mountain). When you reach the steps that go up to the chapel, you must go left, downward, and you are on the road. This route takes a bit more than an hour.
Coming back from the beach the road is much easier to find. After 1 kilometre coast road you'll see the sign "Pelagos 200m". Just follow this.
The beach is down the cliff (there are paths) and about 200 yards up the shore. You will see some great cliffs at the back of the beach and a large cliff that ends the beach on the south end. When my correspondents were there in July 1998 there were about 40 people on the beach, 80% were nude. In August 2000 (in the height of the season) the ratio was 60-40 nude-textile. A nice mix of people male-female couples, single men, single women, male-male and female-female couples. There were also two nude families. The cliffs provide shade for those who want it. The water is very clear and clean. There is a pretty rapid drop off and the shore is pebbles not sand. On the official island map available in the tourist office and in some hotels it shows the beach. On the other side of the map it shows a detailed map of the Oia area. It lists Koloumbo as "Nudist beach".
The woman behind the desk at the hotel where my contributor stayed stayed gave directions. She said it was her favourite beach on the island and was nude if we were interested. I agree with her assessment. It has much more character than the organized better-known beaches. It is about a 7 minute car ride from Oia. It would be a long walk, and a worse walk back, as it would be all uphill. Enjoy. (I'm very grateful to another of my correspondents for the picture of this beach, which dates from about 1990).
A contributor who visited in July 2000 described Kolumbos as truly beautiful. Very natural and quiet. About 30 people on our visit, all nude. If the water is calm you can swim around the rocks and past the cliff, where you will see caves and beautiful rock formations (only attempt this if you are a strong swimmer).
A report from August 2000 says that there were about 60-80 people on the beach, 60% of whom were nude. Significant gay presence, about 40%. A report from September 2000 says that even with a strong northern wind (mealtime) it is nice, because the cliff offers protection. On a nice day at the end of September there were more than 30 visitors, almost all of them nude.
A report from late September 2003 says there were about 12-15 people on the beach, all naked. About 3 single men. 2 gay couples and the rest straight couples. There was quite a breeze which every now and then caused 'mini wind vortexes' which whipped up the dried seaweed. Water was great though.
But a less encouraging report from August 2003: my correspondent found this beach okay but there were no nudists there.
An email from May 2004 reports no problems being nude here. Pretty black sand beach. Access very easy with the explanations on this page.
A report from July 2005 says there were about two dozen people on the beach, less than half of them nude (at the far right part of the beach). There is some shade (trees) but you need to bring water since there is no store nearby. A report from July 2006 describes it as almost perfect, with most people nude. Unfortunately some dogs were in the habit of doing what dogs do on the beach.
A report from August 2008 says that on Koloumbo were about 40 people, 40% nude, some topless, and the rest (50%) textile. One family, some girls in couples. But: the best of it was that no-one seemed to bother whether people are dressed or not! No angry looks, no comments, and no peeping. A nice beach, super clear water with super snorkelling, the only setback is the hot stones. Swim shoes (not flip-flops) are ideal, good to have when you walk into the water!
September 2010: Beach is excellent and most of the days mostly nudist. On Saturday though as Athenians and locals visited the beach for a textile bathe, nudists were outnumbered and the ratio turned to be 90/10 for textiles. Sadly two greek young guys seemed to be looking at us and laughing - a thing that made us feel uncomfortable.
Late September 2010: beach is very quiet (max 10 people for day) all nude. Some couples, some nude locals with kids and dogs. Seems to be the only open-minded beach on the Island. In late september sunset arrives very early and the sea was rough.
July 2011: It may be that the nude section of the beach has moved to the left side as you exit the trail and enter the beach. The portion to the right were purely textiles. The beach had about 10 people comprising 3 couples and 4 single men. I noticed one of the men was playing with himself while staring at several of the couples. It was not a good feeling. There were a few other people walking by staring at us. The tavern "Soulis" is very friendly and hospitable.
Katharos is said to be an official nude beach near Oia. View out to sea is great, especially towards sunset. Room for a good walk, albeit across mainly pebbles. Hot springs seem to well up in places about 20 yards offshore.
Bay big and clean, not small and dirty. According to a report from May 2004 there were five nude men, five nude women, one topless, two clothed (one man one child, but accompanied by nude woman) range of ages - a pretty balanced group. Friendly atmosphere, relatively easy access. Beach clearly sign-posted from road.
Unfortunately, by 2006 a crowded taverna overlooks the beach and in late August and early September there was not a single naturist in sight.
Many correspondents describe this as the best beach for naturists in Santorini. Some consider it neck-and-neck with Koloumbo beach, while others think it is the only real nudist beach on the island. It deserves a good rating because it is long and not easily crowded, either by sun-loungers & umbrellas or by bathers. It is without doubt very beautiful.
It's on the western side of Cape Exomitis, in the very south of the island.
Follow the signs into Vlychada. When you reach the sea, park. There are some restaurants, a small port on the left and the beach on the right. Walk to the right, past the tavernas, umbrellas and chairs for about 100m. A polite distance later (50m or so) nude use begins and stretches for about a kilometre until, rounding a point, an inhabited area is encountered.
A bus connects Vlichada with Thira.
Alternatively you can drive to the remote part of the beach by dirt road: Before reaching Emborio, once you pass the intersection for the port of Athinios, turn downhill & right at the small sign to 'Vlichada'. You will pass a couple of tavernas (one of which is excellent) and further down you will find some of the dirt roads that lead to the remote part of the beach. Reports are unclear on whether access to this end of the beach involves rock climbing.
An excellent map of the island to consult is the one by Road Editions of Athens. Their series of maps, and travel guides, are prepared painstakingly by the contribution of well-seasoned travellers, and they contain more information (walk paths, scenic routes) not printed on regular political or geographic maps.
The "small port" is in fact Vlikadha Marina, which offers the best shelter on the island if your boat is not too deep for the tricky entrance. So if you are arriving by yacht and want to moor up for a few days, explore the island and enjoy an FKK beach right next door, then this is the place.
For the entire distance the beach is backed by spectacular "jarlsberg" cliffs, eroded by the wind. "Really nice and spectacular", says one contributor.
Vlychada features soft, grey sand … that gets baking hot as the day progresses. It also becomes grainy - and painful in bare feet - near the water's edge. One Barefooter strongly recommends wearing some kind of flip-flops just to get to the water, and also bringing an umbrella since there is no shade in the afternoon: the wind is usually very strong and you don't feel the power of the sun. But the strong wind is OK because otherwise the rocks would get really hot!
At about 7 in the afternoon the sand becomes cooler and it is very enjoyable to cover yourself completely with the sand, stay like that for half an hour and then clean yourself in the sea before going back to the hotel.
One Barefooter was pleasantly struck by the way the sand surface was 'embroidered' by the criss-cross pattern of footprints left by seabirds in the morning, when the beach was drying out from the previous night's tide.
It's best to keep sandals on when walking (though there's a nice stretch of cool, wet sand along the water's edge). And walk the beach you should, to see the unique weather-beaten pumice cliffs. In a windy moment, you may even be pelted by a fine shower of dissolving pumice dust if you stand right up against the cliffs; it's a nice sensation on one's bare skin, but not welcome if it gets in your eyes.
It is easier to get into the sea in some places than others. Knee-deep in water you encounter big rounded pebbles. There is good snorkelling (though you have to swim out a way). The water is not the nicest, but by the island's standards it's OK.
The amount of nudity seems to vary but all reports agree that naturism is comfortable on this beach. After the 150m of umbrellas you can feel as free and peaceful as you like … and we're talking about kilometres of sand. Some Barefooters report naturists at the umbrellas. There is usually a mixture of straight and gay couples. You can generally enjoy all the privacy you want - people are very polite (no strange looks, no gay cruising) and there are 50m gaps between parties. All pretty relaxed.
Because the beach is so long it's possible to go for long nude walks, which are reported to be quite popular. There's a long-enough stretch for naked running: it's a bit hard going as the sand is not very firm and, in parts, slopes rather steeply, but one doesn't often have the opportunity.
It is best to avoid this beach on windy days due to blowing sand (although it is said to be OK when the wind is blowing from the north).
Santorini does not have many beaches to offer, and the trend now is that even the smallest of them are being molested by umbrellas and the like, treated as a profit enterprise rather than as a unique feature of the island's landscape.
Be sure not to confuse this beach with the Tropical beach on the left side of the hotel - it is commercial, crowded and dressed.
At the steps down to the beach there are a couple of places to get food and drink - also there are a couple of good tavernas on the road above the harbour. One Barefooter recommends the sandwich from the candina with their local tomato balls, though it's not entirely clear what this refers to.
At the west end of the beach (right facing the sea) there's a beach bar, with a good dirt road leading to it. The consequence is that the naked ones are squeezed into the middle. So after the first 200m it's OK to take off your clothes, but after 500m you need to get dressed. It's not clear whether it's just a high-season phenomenon.
One Barefooter says this beach would score 100% if it were not so difficult to get into and out of the sea due to the football sized and shaped rocks just below the waterline.
October: From about 100 yards east of the west end with the EROS beach club to very near the chairs at the east end, nudity was prevalent, with a pretty even mixture of men and women. It's a gorgeous beach, but some kind of footwear strongly recommended. The road from Thira to Vlychada is pretty well marked, and the turnoff to the Eros club is probably the easiest way down.
The other main beach resort is Perissa, fortunately less developed, still quite pleasant for a more relaxed stay. Toplessness is common here, nudity unknown in the developed section. There are reports of nudity past the developed area, although predominantly of a few single men. The beach is black, and the sea bed consists of smooth rock shelf.
A report from September 1999 concerning Perissa comments that a couple of years ago the beaches of Perissa and Perivolos were crowded with nude sunbathers, but today nudity is completely banned. From Perissa to Ag. Giorgios there are frequent signs telling you "Nudity is forbidden", and these are strictly respected, but still, at the far southern part of the 7 kilometre lava-sand beach when you have passed the former Ya-Ya-club and Popeye Restaurant after some 350 metres, in spite of the signs the swim-suits disappear!
Over the last kilometres of the beach nudity is still quite common. (my correspondent says about 90% of the sunbathers are clothes-free). A road (just south of the road to YaYa Beach Club) leads right to the beach. It is often possible to see nude people on both sides of this parking area and, also, quite a distance to the right (south). Getting into the water is a bit easier in the vicinity of the road than the area to the right. The sand is almost black and gets very hot. Snorkelling is good close to shore. Expect a lot of non-nudists near the end of the road. Fewer as you head further south.
A report from August 2000 - no nudes on any part of this beach. In October, though, there was virtually no-one on the far end of Perissa Beach where Perivolos is located. My contributors were able to sunbathe completely nude with no problem. It was beautiful.
A contributor who visited in August 2001 followed the directions to the naturist area. There were few visitors to the beach - understandably. Whilst nude bathing is possible the conditions are not pleasurable. The beach becomes very narrow at this point and is backed by litter-strewn scrubland. Only for the desperate, says my contributor.
Two reports from September 2003. My first contributors passed the former Ya Ya club (now called Taj Mahal - it looks like an old factory with its chimney stack) and on round the slight outcrop found there was nudity there. Would say about 10-12 people. Mainly single men and gay couples. There was one unsavoury incident with a local guy who seemed to think it was the local cruising ground - my contributor spared us the details.
A report from August/September 2006 confirms nudity is still common here, but some days the area seemed deserted, with only one or two skinny-dippers. A Barefooter who visited in October 2006 understood from other beach users that it was OK to be nude here, but it was quiet and he did not feel comfortable. The beach in part is scruffy with litter (mainly plastic bottles) and it can be hard on the feet to get into the water. A report from August 2007 confirms this, saying that the area was predominantly gay and "cruisy".
Behind the bushes there are buildings under construction and also there is a house on the beach that was occupied when I was there. There is a sign that says nudism is strictly prohibited, near to it. Apparently there are now two such signs.
One evening, my reporter saw the man from the house on the beach walking around with a shotgun. He didn't speak English and he couldn't find out from him what he would shoot at. He did hear a gun going off a couple of times and wondered with the "no nudists" sign near his house whether he was taking pot shots at naked people … but is sure he wasn't and he was friendly.
The second report confirms that at the end of Perivolos beach the umbrellas run out, and move into a quiet area out of direct view - there, for a short length there were up to 10 naturists - a few mixed couples but mainly gay men with some cruising. After a 10 minute walk we start again to run into houses being built and 'nudism forbidden' notices - but no locals were around on several days and there was no hassle. On this secluded section there are some roads coming in from inland and some certainly link into Emporio - but it is much easier to find by following the signs to Perivolos beach and then turning right to end of beach (where there is a car park). It doesn't sound the most reliable bet, though: another report from August 2008 found no nudism - just some toplessness - there.
Barefoot reporters who visited Santorini in July 2006 found this beach just north of the airport, on the east side.
Heading from the airport you have to head north and travel along the coastal road with the sea on your right side. Some families scattered on these beaches. The road runs very close to the sea, and after approx 1-2km you will come across a taverna where the main road heads back inland away from the beach. At this point, head to the right hand side of this taverna, again keeping the sea on your right side. After about half a kilometre, the road again heads back inland. At this point there is a pull-off car park area. Head north along the beach on foot and about 200 yards a tree sticks out into the beach. North of this tree offered plenty of naturist opportunities. It was very secluded with never [more] than 4 or 5 others on the beach. Some families stayed nearer the car park, but those past the tree were by-and-large naked.
This is one of those beaches where the first arrivals set the trend. If my contributors were there early, any people coming later just assumed it was naturist and either left or joined in. The beach is black sand, and about 15 metres wide. Our Barefooters spent 10 days there, from 10am till 7pm most days. They rated it 80%.
In September 2006, Barefoot reporters found only one guy sunbathing nude, later on another couple arrived. They revisited this place twice. Once there were two men sunbathing (at a distance from each other, not a couple), the other time there was a couple and when they left, another couple arrived. Very narrow beach with quite a lot of litter around, and airplanes fly through this area during landing. Not a favourite beach.
See also comments under Elsewhere below.
This looks like another loss to the naturist community. At the Red Beach, accessible by the bus terminal for the archaeological site at Akrotiri, if you hike around the point at the right as you face the water you will come to another cove where there used to be a nude beach. It was reachable on foot, but you have to go up and over the point that separates it from Red Beach. Head inland about halfway down Red Beach (the trail is obvious) and then follow the cliff top. Boat trips are on offer to the Red, White and Black beaches and one of the boats actually advertised a stop at the nude beach (September 1998).
A report from August 2000 says there are now sun umbrellas on the Red Beach; it is very busy and entirely textile. However there are a few square metres of the beach where you can find some naked people, near the hill which divides the Red Beach from the White Beach.
But a contributor who visited in October 2000 at the far end of almost empty Red Beach resulted in angry yells and whistles. Oh dear. More recent reports also confirm no real chance of nudism here.
However the Captain hears that although the Red beach is now completely full of umbrellas, at the right end of the beach there's a little cliff which you either climb or swim by, and then you reach a small beach. In Aug 2006 a Barefoot reporter found this beach while swimming alone from the normal Red Beach, there were about 8 people of all ages and one family. Perhaps the best thing about this beach is that it cannot be seen by the Red Beach. That means a little walking to get there. Enjoy
2013: We were the first ones at red beach one morning, went to the far end, got 2 lounge chairs and sat naked. a man came over to collect money and clearly saw we were naked. he didn't say anything so we stayed that way. the beach filled up and no-one else ever got naked. we didn't care and no-one bothered us, but not a great place to feel comfortable being naked.
2015: On a friday at the start of October, the west end had two nude men and about a half-dozen topless women. It doesn't seem like an optimal place, and if more crowded than it was, would be likely too close to textiles.
On the other side of the hill from the Red Beach. You have to climb that hill to get there, not a very difficult path, nor tiring. The beach is very large with some trees which make some shadow. A beach of pebbles, with a large part of it covered by sea plants. Almost all people here were naked.
If you have a car, you can avoid the difficult and long trek involved when you access White Beach from Red Beach. Just before reaching Akrotiri turn right on paved road. (One of several direction signs at intersection is marked "Kampia Beach") At about 4-km, turn left onto unpaved track (also marked with sign for Kampia.) This is not a good road.
Although some have said it is accessible by ordinary car, more recent advice is that the track is terrible. Continue for 2 km to the sea and park at the taverna. Walk left on the path along the shore for about 150 metres or so to the beach. This beach is also a great alternative when the island is experiencing strong north winds (Meltemi) as it quite sheltered from those winds. The Kampia Taverna, while very simple, has excellent food and home wine. This report dates from September 2003.
A report from May 2004 found the beach deserted.
In June 2004 there was lots of seaweed and some litter. Three to seven nudes, some or all gay, but no textiles.
A correspondent reports that midway between the towns Kamari and Monolithos is a small area where nakedness is allowed; however don't count on it - this is probably best considered a textile beach. A report from June 2003 found about 20 nudists there - but it was rocky in the water and my contributor didn't really like the beach. There may be possibilities at Monolithos too, but hardly pleasant because of the power plant behind the beach. Be warned, though, that reports from my contributors suggest that the situation is changing all the time.
Another correspondent who went to Santorini in 1995 also reported that on Kamari Beach you have to walk quite a way down the beach away from the hotels to find a less developed stretch where naturism is practised. Up-to-date reports would be welcomed.
The Captain is indebted to Bill Arnett of Clothing Optional British Columbia for permission to use some of the photographs on this page (those marked with a black bar). His web site includes a trip report on his visit to Santorini.