The spec­tac­u­lar vol­canic is­land ris­ing sheer from the Aegean is a high-end he­do­nists’ sum­mer play­ground

Esquire (UK) - - Style -

Nowhere en­cap­su­lates the Greek is­lands like the slick Cy­cladic gem of San­torini. The is­land group is the caldera of a once mighty vol­cano that blew its top 3,600 years ago (some say giv­ing rise to the le­gend of At­lantis). Today, San­torini is again at­tain­ing mythic sta­tus as a ro­man­tic re­treat but, we re­port, some men do es­cape it hav­ing man­aged not to pro­pose. But if you ac­tu­ally want to pull the trig­ger, we can’t think of a bet­ter place to do it. Tom Bar­ber is a founder of the award-win­ning travel com­pany orig­inal­


San­torini has sev­eral top-notch ho­tels ped­dling an iden­ti­cal vibe — white­washed walls, rooms carved into cliffs, plunge pools, killer views, eye-wa­ter­ing prices — so the choice comes down to ser­vice. Canaves Oia comes up trumps as it has got hos­pi­tal­ity down pat; it clearly works as it’s now opened Canaves Oia Suites and Vil­las.


Yes, it’s busy; yes, you’ve seen 1,000 pho­tos on In­stabrag; but ex­plor­ing Oía is great all the same. The per­fect Greek tril­ogy of cloud­less bright blue sky, glis­ten­ing deep azure sea and white-painted houses is no bet­ter ex­em­pli­fied than here. Throw in the odd blue­domed church for even greater dichro­matic def­i­ni­tion.


You’ll spend much time on San­torini tak­ing in the awe­some views of the caldera from high on the rim-top set­tle­ments. To get down near the water, head to Ar­meni restau­rant in the bay of the same name, be­low Oía town. Book a boat ride from nearby Am­moudi port and then it’s stan­dard long, sum­mer Med lunch pro­ce­dure at your table on the sand. Shrimp saganaki and lob­ster are good with a fresh San­torini white wine made, ideally, with the lo­cal Assyr­tiko grape. Take the boat back or brave a don­key ride up the 300 steps into town. ar­menisan­torinirestau­


San­torini’s fa­mous sun­sets are best en­joyed well away from the masses in Oía, while nurs­ing your “rakini” cock­tail (ba­si­cally, it’s a caiprinha with raki, the Turk­ish take on ouzo, in place of cachaça) on the bal­cony ter­race meze bar of Katharos Lounge above the beach of the same name. Only 20 min­utes’ walk away, you’ll find friendly staff, good mu­sic and a great at­mos­phere. Katharos beach, Oía 847 02, Greece


Am­brosia is the food of the gods, and the restau­rant of the same name has a set­ting that would have the most dis­cern­ing of deities nod­ding in ap­proval. Perched pre­cip­i­tously over­look­ing the caldera in Oía, this must be the most ro­man­tic spot in a supremely ro­man­tic place. Be­ware if trav­el­ling with your lover, as you may feel the urge to drop to one knee. The con­tem­po­rary Greek food ain’t bad, ei­ther. restau­rant-am­


If you for­get to pack stylish sta­ples such as linen shirts, make an ex­cur­sion to Ecru sited on Oía’s main street to re­plen­ish the wardrobe with Ital­ian-de­signer clothes el­e­gantly dis­played in­side a for­mer man­sion house.


End your night/early morn­ing in the town of Thira at Tango Bar. Re­lax, it’s not a clue to the skin tone of the clien­tele, rather this is the go-to spot for hip lo­cals and clued-in off-is­lan­ders. Ex­pect house beats, cock­tails and for it to “go off”. tan­gosan­


Rent a 69ft mo­tor yacht with three-man crew for an af­ter­noon cruise ex­plor­ing the caldera; there are a num­ber of op­er­a­tors. Ask the skip­per to moor off the cen­tral is­land be­fore turn­ing through 360° to view what was once the crater rim of the huge vol­cano. Then sail slowly back to see yet an­other sun­set, this time from your pri­vate boat’s deck as the hoi pol­loi in Oía look on en­vi­ously.


Thira town when there’s a cruise ship (or five) moored down in the har­bour. The small town’s tiny lanes and chic bou­tiques and cafés will be seething as over 10,000 pas­sen­gers can dis­em­bark on some days in high sea­son.


See the is­land from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, and work off the ouzo OD, on a wan­der be­tween Oía to Imerovigli. It’s a two-hour walk (plus in­evitable photo-opp time) along a well-signed path and a great way to ex­plore the is­land’s ru­ral as­pect.


Be­cause this pop­u­lar is­land des­ti­na­tion is show­ing signs of creak­ing at the seams. Go be­fore they burst al­to­gether.

Clock­wise: the view from San­torini, look­ing to­wards the vol­canic is­land Thera­sia; the blue domed church in Oía; shell­fish at Am­brosia restau­rant; a sea view room at Canaves Oía ho­tel; mo­tor yachts pro­vide stun­ning day cruises Tor­toise­shell ac­etate sunglasses, £125, by Polo Ralph Lauren at David Clu­low

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