All Santorini beaches have volcanic black sand, but only one is known as Black Beach. It’s arguably the blackest beach on Santorini, its sand closer to jet black than the pencil grey sand you find at other beaches on Santorini.
This black sand beach is known locally as Mesa Pigadia beach, and its isolation means it’s remained one of Santorini’s hidden gems. It’s very different to the more developed and organised Santorini black sand beaches at Perissa, Perivolos and Kamari. This is the place to come if you want to escape the Santorini crowds.
We love discovering off the beaten path places, and Black Beach Santorini was a true delight for us. Its relative isolation is a big plus point, and the breathtaking rocky volcanic Santorini coast will stay forever in the memory. This is right up there with the best beaches in Santorini, and you almost get it all to yourself.
And here’s all you need to know before you visit the Black Beach.
WHERE IS BLACK BEACH SANTORINI?
Black Beach is tucked away in the remote south-west of Santorini, 3 km beyond the village of Akrotiri. It’s 1 km (0.6 miles) off the road between Akrotiri village and the lighthouse (Pharos).
Akrotiri is probably the best area in Santorini for beaches, with the famous Santorini Red Beach 5 km (3 miles) along the coast. The famous White Beach Santorini (with white cliffs and, you guessed it, black sand) is just around the white headland at the end of Black Beach, albeit only accessible by boat. Caldera Beach is also tucked away at the bottom of cliffs below Akrotiri village.
HOW TO GET TO SANTORINI BLACK BEACH
Black Beach, or Mesa Pegadia, lies to the west of Akrotiri village. If you’re driving on Santorini, you’ll reach a junction in the village: take the right-hand turn to ‘Pharos’, or lighthouse. The road climbs along the coastline, eventually descending across the peninsula towards the lighthouse.
You eventually reach a left-hand turn, marked by the battered blue sign in our photograph. This dirt road snakes down some steep sections to the beach: if you’re driving, proceed slowly.
Only three buses pass this turn-off for Black Beach during the daytime. They are the services that run from Fira bus station to Akrotiri Lighthouse (Pharos). They currently depart Fira at 1000, 1400 and 1730. There isn’t a bus stop sign at the turn-off, but there is one at the previous turn where you can get off and pick up the return bus later.
Otherwise, if you’re reliant on public transport, it’s a 45-minute walk from Akrotiri village.
THINGS TO DO IN SANTORINI BLACK BEACH
The first thing you notice about Mesa Pigadia beach is the striking scenery. The contrast between the deep black sand and rocks and the shimmering white cliffs is stunning.
Mesa Pigadia is south-facing, so gets sunshine through most of the day. There are a few sun beds and parasols close to the taverna if you want some shade.
The black volcanic sand absorbs the heat more than the usual golden sand beaches you find elsewhere in Greece. The black sand is too hot to walk on barefoot – you’ll encounter this at all beaches in Santorini.
Many of the Santorini beaches are also rocky, with some sharp surprises underfoot once you’re in the sea. If you’re walking on the beach you need some footwear to protect yourself from the blazing hot sand. You’ll also need some water shoes to protect yourself from the sharp rocks in the water.
Apart from soaking in the sun, swimming and sitting in the taverna, it’s well worth walking along Black Beach. There are some ingeniously designed beach houses built into the cliffs to the right of the taverna.
FACILITIES AT SANTORINI BLACK BEACH
There are two restaurants at Black Beach. Akro is the upmarket option on the cliff above the beach, and they also run boat trips to White Beach and Red Beach.
The family-run Mesa Pigadia tavern is located at beach level, and is an ideal spot for lunch or an afternoon drink. They also have WCs, an important consideration if you’re planning to spend a few hours there.
There is some semblance of organisation at the beach, with a dozen or so beach loungers and umbrellas set up outside the taverna. The rest of the beach is free to explore.
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times. His images are frequently used throughout the world by tourism bodies such as Visit Britain and Visit Wales.