The tour departs from the old port which is centrally located in Fira town, “the centrally located” is only the indication from the map. Don’t forget the town is on the cliff, most tour operators will offer the cable car service for €5 extra each way, the other option is to take the number 11 – Walk. The agency person told us the walk should be around 15 minutes from the cable car office to the port… maybe if you are Usain Bolt. The walk at a comfortable pace (avoiding the donkey poo) lasted almost 45 minutes and the first 20 minutes you are going through lines of donkeys for hire so the smell was not great.
I don’t think the tour operation was particularly well organised from that port as there were so many boats docking and they are all going to do the same thing. To find your tour boat was a bit of a challenge challenge. The expectation was that the tour was supposed to depart 11am but it eventually departed almost 12pm. I had a bit of panic as we thought we had missed the boat.
We were greeted by the tour guide who apparently claimed is able to speak 8 different languages – I was so amazed how she managed it. The wooden boat was large enough to squeeze plenty of passengers with one only guide. The guide had to repeat information 3 times in different languages – German, Spanish and English. We sailed on reasonably calm water for about 30 minutes until we arrived at the volcano – Nea Kameni.
The entrance fee to the volcanic park was €2 per person. We followed our tour guide into the park and it took us approximately 20 minutes until we see the craters. There is walking path was stony and a bit rough to reach the top, occasionally you will see some smokey pits on the ground and breathe a strong smell of sulfur. We were then given 30 minutes of free time to explore the little volcanic island at our leisure.
When we were all back on the boat again we sailed for another 10 minutes to our next destination Palea Kameni. The boat had to dock a little outside from the bay where the hot spring area is. Be aware that whoever wishes to dip in the natural thermal bath you have to swim approximately 30 meters until you reach the famous thermal spa.
When I first jumped in the water it was quite cold since as we are still in middle of the sea and the water temperature was around 19 degrees. As I approached the bay of Palea Kameni the water temperature noticeably started to rise. The warmest part of this hot spring area is around 30 degrees as it mixes continuously with the normal sea currents. Phew, it wasn’t burning hot fortunately. We were allowed to swim for 30 minutes before we all got back to the boat to continue the day tour.
Next on the schedule was the island of Thirassia where we had our 2 hours of free time either to swim in the crystal clear waters of Korfos or lunch in the traditional taverns of the island. Most people moved around on foot or rode donkeys to the village of Manolas which is very picturesque, with narrow streets and a beautiful view of Santorini. We tried to walk up the hill to the town but we eventually gave up and instead we decided to chill with 2 pints of beer at the port to enjoy people and sea watching!
After the pleasant break of two hours on the island of Thirassia, we started returning to the new port, passing close to the volcanic cliffs of Oia to see this unique setting. Many passengers got off at Oia to spend their evening in this stunning town. We remained on the boat and it took us back to our departure point in Fira. And this time we used the cable car to take us back to the top of the cliff.