If you’re looking for a unique experience when visiting Santorini, then this might be your cup of tea!
I stayed in Santorini couple of years ago for a long weekend to celebrate my birthday. It was the start of November but you wouldn’t be able to tell because the weather was so gorgeous.
On the third day, I got a bit restless and after miles and miles of walking (no that I counted the 1.525 stairs I walked during that trip), my and my then boyfriend (now husband) decided to take a boat trip. Unfortunately, we couldn’t just jump on the nearest cruise boat, but we found a fair few options to nearby islands.
Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni (“new burned island”and “old burned island”) are small uninhabited volcanic islands in the middle of the Santorini caldera (see pic below). They were created by years of continues eruptions and Nea Kameni has still some active sulfur vents.
Now if that doesn’t sound interesting enough, here is something to get you excited – you can take a walk around the rim of the volcanic crater on Nea Kameni.
They didn’t need to say anything more to get me signed up.
We were staying in a beautiful hotel in Imerovigli and to get to Nea Kameni, we booked a boat trip leaving from the harbor at the bottom of the cliff.
There are two ways to get down.
Take walk down a thousand stairs (if you find where they start), or this comfortable ride. The descent is pretty steep if you don’t like heights better keep your eyes closed.
We joined other hundred tourists enjoying the morning sunshine, standing in the queue and staring at other tourists while waiting for their boat.
Expecting this little ferry to turn up:
.. and instead this showed up:
Ruby Princess passed uncomfortably close to our boat, only to delight the Japanese tourists with their expensive cameras.
Thankfully the drive was a short one, and after around 20 minutes of rocking on the sea we made it to the Nea Kameni island.
It has pretty spectacular harbor. The only way to get off your boat is to hop over the other ones already parked there.
We started the hike full of excitement, not knowing how much walking there was in front of us. The whole island is only about 2km in diameter, but boy you do get tired. Or maybe it’s just me being completely unfit for any kind of exercise.
After you made it to the top, you can pat yourself on the shoulder and take a walk around the rim of the crater. It kind of feels like you came to hell, you can smell sulfur everywhere and there is no vegetation at all. Only in summer, you will spot some red succulents if you’re lucky.
It’s very hard to give you an idea about the size of this place, on the picture below you will see a small fence lining the path.
Here is a comparison photo for size – those two smudges in the back are people walking around the pathway.
The whole area is actually protected scientific site monitored by Study and Monitoring of the Santorini Volcano.
We had a little lecture on the top by our tour guide, but I was a little busy enjoying the view and surroundings, so I don’t remember much of it.
As far as I know, there aren’t many places where you can walk a full circle around a volcano crater, so if you get a chance to visit Nea Kameni, definitely go for it.
After our short stay on Volcano, we headed back to the boat and our next stop – Thirasia Island.