I have been waxing enthusiastic in recent columns about the outdoor
adventures I've been enjoying with my wonderful fiancé, Mike. From the mundane
(walks with the dogs by the river) to the more exotic (snorkeling with his
daughter in Puerto Vallara), we are enjoying sharing
our favorite outdoor sports and hobbies with one another, as well as trying new
This past weekend, we pulled the trigger on our honeymoon plans, and I
couldn't be more excited! We are going to spend a week exploring the sun, sand,
and water of the Greek Islands, specifically Santorini,
Naxos, and Paros!
"The Cyclades, a volcanic archipelago of wide horizons and whitewashed
villages, pretty with windmills and blue-domed churches, typify the Greek Islands
ideal ... ."*
The travel brochures speak for themselves. Greece
in general, and the Cyclades
Islands (southeast of mainland Greece) in
particular, typify the Mediterranean vacation. White and black sand beaches,
stunning sunsets, quaint buildings perched on cliffs, ancient ruins. For those
who seek it, unparalleled nightlife, for those who don't, quiet tavernas and peaceful private apartments with no
entertainment other than a glass of Vin Santo and the wheeling of the sea
For us, an additional draw is that neither one of us has ever been to Greece. We've
both traveled, he with an emphasis on France
and South America, me with an emphasis on Italy,
Germany, and the British Islands. Greece has the appeal of a romantic
"first" for both of us -- at an age when romantic firsts are a bit hard to
"Sophisticated hedonists flock to ... Santorini, with its
sea-filled volcanic caldera ... ."*
We have chosen Santorini, at the far south of the Cyclades, for our honeymoon "home base" (which I guess
makes us "sophisticated hedonists" -- probably guilty as charged). The
crescent-shaped island is actually the rim of a volcanic caldera. Small hotels
renowned for their customer service cling to the cliffsides,
sparkling white against the earth. Sunsets over the caldera are legendary. The
narrow streets, extensive walking paths, picturesque blue-domed churches, and
rich archeological treasures are all a draw for us. Ancient Thira is here, with
its ruins and tombs, as well as the Minoan city of Akrotiri, destroyed
some 3,500 years ago and preserved, Pompeii-like, under layers of volcanic ash.
It's easy to find a good meal in the cities of Fira
and Oia, both of which are walking distance from the
apartment we've chosen. And did I mention there are wineries on the island? I
mean, really, what more could you ask for in a honeymoon destination?
Indeed, with the infinite charms of Santorini, a
better question than "Why Santorini?" might be, "Why
leave Santorini and go anywhere else?"
Why Naxos And Paros?
"... nature lovers will find excellent hiking on Naxos and snorkeling on Paros."*
Well, that's why. Our plans are not carved in stone, but we have scoped out
Naxos and/or Paros as two islands worthy of
day trips should the spirit move us. Naxos is
greener than many of the surrounding islands, with a hilly terrain that draws
hikers away from its beaches to its inland beauty. If trudging the path between
Oia and Fira gets old, we
might just hop a ferry and explore this hiking alternative.
As for Paros, if I'm anywhere near warm
water with fish in it, I want to get in the middle of it! I'll be bringing my
snorkeling gear, and I understand that Paros
is a good place to snorkel. Or at least, a good place from which to embark on a
snorkeling expedition. Reviews and opinions on snorkeling in the Cyclades in general are mixed, but we'll probably take
our gear just in case. And you can be sure that I'll weigh in here at Sportsmansguide.com with my take on snorkeling there.
Unless, of course, I just end up sitting there on our private deck drinking
Vin Santo and looking at those world-class sunsets over the caldera!
Sally O'Neal lives and writes in Washington
State. She is looking
forward to adding Greece
to the 12 European countries she has already visited, making it a tidy baker's
*Excerpted from Eyewitness Travel: The Greek
Islands, Marc Dubin,
DK Publishing, New York,
© 2009, p. 11.