For our last full day in Santorini, we rented an ATV to ride around so we could easily hit any of the places we hadn’t made it to yet and places that are harder to access by bus, like the beach and cave at Mesa Pigadia.
We reserved a four-wheeler with Rent Me…Love Me before leaving the States (€30) and arranged a hotel drop-off for 10 a.m. (and a 9 p.m. return, also at the hotel). All we needed was one international driver’s license and our cash (for an in-person payment). The process for securing an international driver’s license is pretty straightforward: go into AAA with your driver’s license and $20, fill out some paperwork, and get an international license printed onsite (with a photo taken onsite or a passport photo you bring in with you). It took under 30 minutes, and the license is good for six months. There’s a steep fine for driving without an international license (a fine recently established, from what I understand, because of crowded main roads, untrained ATV drivers, and wrecks).
A note on driving the ATV: if you plan to rent one, practice before you go. You will have to be on the main road at some point, and Santorini drivers mean business. You need to be prepared to move with traffic and handle a lot of curvy roads.
Lucky for us, our small duffel fit perfectly over the handlebars, and the ATV also had a locked storage bin where the helmets were stowed.
The four-wheeler gave us the opportunity to pull off the road anytime we felt inclined.
Since we’d seen the caldera side of the island on our hike and on our sunset cruise, we decided to go up the coast on the non-caldera side. We went to the northern tip of Santorini, then curved back down to Amoudi Bay to see what access was like if you came in from the road rather than down the 250+ steps in Oia.
It’s quite accessible, though it does require some tight parallel parking on an incline if you drive a car (stick-shift seems to be the norm here). Parking a four-wheeler is much easier.
Thinking we were going to the Volkan Brewery, we ended up at Volkan on the Rocks, a bright café/cliffside cinema with an excellent caldera view that we passed earlier in the week on our hike from Fira to Oia. (There are several outdoor cinemas throughout Santorini that play both new and classic films, including Mamma Mia.) You can rent cabanas for the evening here, too.
We each had a Volkan beer (white and grey this time, respectively) and smoked mackerel tostadas—the menu has a lot of shareable small plates.
We noticed several cruise ships laying anchor in the caldera and ran into a large group on a cruise excursion at Santo Winery. Even so, there was ample seating, including a table in the shade on the rail (we lucked out again!). In the evening, it’s best to make a reservation.
We decided to forgo the tasting in favor of a glass of wine each. I tried a sparkling white (yum), and Perry tried Mavrotragano, a dry red, which he was very happy with (our server told him it was her favorite after he ordered it).
The winery has a great onsite shop, too, which had not only bottles of wine and Santo Wines paraphernalia, but also island souvenirs priced about the same as side shops in Perissa and Fira (which is to say, less expensive than in Oia).
We drove down to the Red Beach next and purchased some deliciously ripe figs and plums for our short walk from the parking area to the beach.
It does require some maneuvering to get to the beach itself, so it’s important to not overburden yourself with things to carry and to wear the right shoes for managing a rocky terrain.
We stopped into Theofanis, a family tavern, for a beer and another small plate of food. Here’s the view from our table.
We decided on eggplant rolls for snacking and felt very good about our decision.
Next stop was the Akrotiri Lighthouse with its magnificent view and intense sea breeze.
We passed a small farm and farm-to-table restaurant on our way. It was pretty neat to see the lighthouse up-close after having seen it from the water from afar on the sunset cruise. Even from that distance, you could see all the people crowded on it for sunset. (When we went, it was still several hours from sunset, so we didn’t encounter a crowd.)
Back on the ATV, we spotted an intriguing dirt turn-off and decided to follow it and ended up at Mesa Pigadia, a fairly quiet beach with a nearby cave. We parked our four-wheeler beside the tavern, which offered its bathroom to beach guests for a €0.50 fee. Very nice patio here, too.
We had pretty much circled the island by the time we got back to the Black Beach of Perissa. We parked our ATV and got in the clear, cool (but not cold) water until it was nearly time to return our four-wheeler.
After showering and packing for our early flight, we went out for a late dinner on the candlelit beach deck at Meet Me @ Coralli on Perivolos Beach (beside Perissa). They’ve really got the idea of ambiance down here. We had an exceptional final dinner, which included a complimentary onion soup and dessert. We started out with tomato balls, then moved on to grilled vegetables (for me) and tuna (for Perry). This was his favorite fish dish of the trip. I love eating beachside, and we highly recommend this place.
We strolled back to Meltemi Village, already a little sad to be leaving in the morning on our early flight back to Athens (then on to Newark). Look at how great those Osprey wheels are on an uneven surface.
If you’d like more details about any aspect of our trip, comment below or message us!