"Archaeological, seismological, and vulcanological evidence has been presented linking the Atlantis myth to Santorini. Speculation suggesting that Thera/Santorini was the inspiration for Plato's Atlantis began with the excavation of Akrotiri in the 1960s, and gained increased currency as reconstructions of the island's pre-eruption shape and landscape frescos located under the ash both strongly resembled Plato's description. The possibility has been more recently popularized by television documentaries such as The History Channel program me Lost Worlds (episode "Atlantis"), the Discovery Channel's Solving History with Olly Steeds, and the BBC's Atlantis, The Evidence, which suggests that Thera is Plato's Atlantis."
The island has virtually no fresh water. The water to the homes and businesses is processed through a de salinization plant and is a little salty. Santorini is famous for its dry white wines (the vineyards on the island are like none I'd ever seen before and there is no irrigation system), tomatoes and fava beans, all of which I enjoyed immensely. If you can go, I highly recommend it. I am going to write a little bit on the topics of food, adventure, relaxation, and beauty in a series of 4 blog posts.
For this Part I, I'm just going to briefly address when and where and what to bring.
Santorini's primary industry is - you guessed it - tourism. During the off season (November - April) the island virtually shuts down like a ghost town. Things begin to start back up again in March and the summer season (June - August) is the most popular and crowded with the best swimming weather. I don't care for crowds, especially not crowds of tourists, so I chose to go off-season, in October. The downside is it can be chilly and it's always windy - even in the summer. I am a native New Yorker so I have a thick skin and I still went swimming in both the ocean and the pools but a hot weather native would probably have cringed to do the same. If (when!) I return, I think I'll aim for September - not too crowded and a bit warmer. Nonetheless, I was very happy with my October visit and, if you like to hike, the weather is really perfect for it - not too hot and not too cold.
Fira and Oia lie on either end and, in the middle, where I stayed, there is a magical place called Imerovigli. All are touristy - it's the economy of the island. However, some are more touristy than others. Fira and Oia are really, really touristy. Fira is full of little shops and museums and hotels in a never ending cascade. It is a bustling little area and charming, if very "shop-y." Oia has some marble walkways and glitz - like the fancy Prada or Versace stores and caters to the extremely wealthy Middle Eastern and Asian tourists. You will see ladies stumbling on the cliffs in ridiculous, expensive high heels and fancy dresses that won't stay down in the island's never ending gusts of wind. Unfortunately, I witnessed a lot of "bad" tourist behavior in Oia such as the loud, bejeweled man who threw a temper tantrum in a restaurant because the waiter brought him a drink before bringing his food (he had apparently wanted them together) and another man who complained the breathtaking, splendid views were boring and screamed he wanted his money back. And, then, of course, the silly tourists with their fancy brand bags, looking to buy Gucci and Chanel (why? Why? Why? You can get that almost anywhere if you want to spend too much money for very little). On the bright side, Oia is a lovely fishing village and the locals are so nice and the food is great. My pick: Imerovigli. Imerovigli is made up of many hotels and restaurants, like the other two, but somehow manages to seem magical, quiet and local (at least in October, anyway!). You can easily access the magnificent Skaros Rock and both Oia and Fira are a short hike (Fira) and a several hour hike (Oia) away. I cannot describe how stunningly wonderful I found Imerovigli and I vastly preferred it to Fira or Oia. Again, the locals are really wonderful and the food and wine is equally fabulous.
WHAT TO BRING?
1. COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES! The buildings are built into the side of a cliff. There are many places cars cannot access. If you want to take full advantage, have comfy shoes and be prepared to walk, climb and take a lot of stairs. I showed up in high heels and promptly removed them and never put them on again during my entire stay.
2. JACKET AND WRAP
Even in summer, Santorini is very windy. bring a light wind resistant jacket and a wrap for going out at night, especially if you go in the spring or fall.
3. HAIR TIES
Again, windy. Be prepared.
4. A MEDICAL KIT
There is very limited medical care and no hospital on the island. If something really bad were to happen, you'd have to be flown to Athens. A simple medical kit is a good idea, especially if you plan on doing a lot of independent hiking and/or have allergies (so, if you nee done, bring an Epi-Pen, things like that).