Ios or Santorini
After a windy night we woke to a much calmer morning. The kayaks were quickly packed and we were ready for an early start to Ios. The plan was to cross the channel and head down the west coast before camping at the southern tip, prior to crossing to Santorini the following day. We thought that it was going to be a relatively short day.
Half way to Ios, in what was much better weather conditions, than we could have imagined the night before, we checked the distance of the direct crossing to Santorini, which was clearly visible to the south. 18 nautical miles was the direct distance, a quick discussion, a few stronger left hand sweep strokes and the bows of the kayaks were pointing south.
We settled into a rhythm and within a few hours we were coming ashore on the beaches just on the outside of the caldera for a late and much needed lunch.
We are all familiar with the images of Santorini but no amount of photographs can do justice to scale of the caldera. It is a truly astonishing natural feature. As we entered from the north it was difficult to imagine the impact that the volcanic eruption must have had on civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean. It really is one of the wonders of the natural world.
Through some rapid calculations using data from the GPS and an opportune weather window we had arrived on Santorini a day early and we were looking forward to exploring this world famous destination.

We headed towards Ios with a light northerly wind on our beam. The crossing should have taken just over an hour.
I have always enjoyed using a GPS and it really came into its own today. Ios, our destination, was 4 miles away but Santorini was clearly visible on the horizon. A quick change of Waypoint indicated that it was only 18 miles to Santorini, with the light northerly breeze helping it would be 5 hours at the most.
Visibility was excellent on the crossing, the snow covered mountains of Crete were visible to the south west but our main focus was on the cliffs of Santorini, which were becoming much clearer as we approached.
Pete and John having a well earned lunch break at the first opportunity on Santorini. We had been in the kayaks for over 5 hours when we landed.
Paddling into the remains of the caldera, the full scale of Santorini can be appreciated. The classic view is of white houses perched on top of volcanic cliffs.

The inside of the caldera is huge. Its quite easy to lose si
ght of cruise ships!

There can be few places in the world which are so instantly awe inspiring.

We made the effort to walk up to the rim of the caldera, in search of food and stunning views. We were not disappointed with either but it was strange to see so many other people after effectively being on our own for over 3 days.
The classic Santorini sunset. The distant islands were on our route of the previous few days.
Camp sites were not easy to come by. Having pitched the tent for some peace and quiet I ended up sharing my terrace with a snoring dog. Not ideal preparation for the following days planned kayaking around the inside of the caldera.