Are you going to Santorini Island in the Cyclades? Here is the essential information about Néa Kameni’s crater: tickets, fares and schedules!
Located in the centre of the caldera of the volcanic island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea of the Cyclades in Greece, the Néa Kameni crater is the active part of the island’s volcano. It is an islet surrounded by the sea, one of the four islands of the Santorini archipelago. Crowned by a crater, it reaches its highest point, 150 metres above the sea. You can visit the island of Néa Kaméni from the port of Fira, after a ten-minute boat or boat trip. Néa Kameni means “burned youth”, referring to the fact that it is the most recent volcano in the archipelago. Visiting the Néa Kameni crater will give you beautiful views and a hike in the middle of an arid, lunar landscape, composed of volcanic rock, the island of Santorini and the great blue in the background. This is one of the must-see tourist activities for thousands of tourists who have come to visit Santorini.
Do you want to be part of it? Here is everything you need to know about Néa Kaméni’s crater: the history, what to see, prices and visiting times!
History of the Néa Kameni crater
The Néa Kaméni crater was formed following the Minoan eruption of the Santorini volcano around 1600 BC. During this period, 40 to 60 km3 of magma were reportedly dumped into the sea. The centre of the island collapsed and was completely submerged. According to some researchers, this eruption was responsible for the weakening of the Minoan civilization – which then dominated the island and Crete – whose ruins of Minoan culture will later be found in Akrotiri, on the island of Santorini. For others, it would be at the origin of the myth of Atlantis. For others, it is said to be at the root of Egypt’s ten wounds, even if these hypotheses are not shared by the entire scientific community.
During antiquity, the molten rock remaining in the centre of the underwater volcano gradually rises to the centre of the caldera, which contributed to the formation of the island of Palea Kameni. The island of Néa Kameni is said to have been born around 1570, in the form of an islet called Mikri Kameni. The island as we know it today extended between 1707 and 1710, then its surface area tripled between 1866 and 1870 thanks to new lands that had emerged. Several eruptions during the 20th century continued to alter the appearance and surface area of the island, the last one dating back to 1950. However, the volcano is reported to have experienced a resurgence of activity in 2011. The researchers reportedly observed an elevation increase of 5 centimetres, and for good reason: the radars estimate that there would be a magmatic pocket containing 14 million m3 of molten rock, located 4 kilometres deep, in the north of the island.
Néa Kaméni, always active and moving, would thus have the particularity of being one of the most recent islands in the entire Mediterranean Sea, with only 500 years of age.
What to see and do at the Néa Kameni crater?
Many excursions are possible to the Néa Kameni crater, from the island of Santorini. What to do when visiting the Néa Kameni crater? Why go to see this lunar, desert, idle landscape?
Leave the port of Fira or Athinios by boat to find out. You can hike on warm ground, from which fumaroles escape here and there, to feel as if you were in the depths of the Earth’s bowels, and see a unique, exotic landscape. There are few active volcanoes in the world that allow safe hiking in the hollow of their crater. The visit and the hike can be done alone, but it is recommended to be accompanied by a tourist guide if you want to know more about the geology of the island and the traces left by volcanic activity.
The island allows you to stroll through the entire natural geological park. You will see fields of black, ochre, red and beige rocks, on which mats of succulent (malacophyte) green and red plants grow. Also observe how landscapes change radically in a few metres. Best of all, you can also swim in the warm sulphurous waters of the volcano!
How to get to the Néa Kameni crater?
Going to the island to visit the Néa Kameni crater is simple: you will easily find departures, organized by travel and tourism agencies, for the crater from the cities of Santorini. You can choose to go there by fast shuttle, by sailboat (3-hour tour) or by boat.
Start by climbing to the top of the volcano after the crossing. You find yourself in the middle of a hostile landscape of dark rocks, spitting fumaroles and strewn with sulphur crystals. There is no other way to visit than the one of the path – it is a protected nature reserve -, which you will take with the tourist guide. Walking to the summit takes about half an hour, but it is recommended to stay at least half a day on the island to fully enjoy swimming and hiking. Touch the rock with your hands: you will feel the heat, reminiscent of the intense volcanic activity taking place under your feet. Please note that it is not recommended to touch the stone debris you will come across here.
When to go to the Néa Kameni crater?
Spring and autumn are logically the best times of the year to visit the Néa Kameni crater: it is cooler and less crowded. In summer, about ten boats a day loaded with about a hundred people on each boat dock on the island. Imagine the flow of people (even if the path is wide enough to drain the crowd).
Opening hours and prices of the Néa Kaméni crater
Two daily departures are available from the port of Fira:
- Departures at 11 am and 2 pm
- Returns at 2pm and 5pm
- Admission to the national park costs €2.5
There are many agencies offering their excursions to visit the Néa Kameni crater, of course, at different prices.
However, we found an offer at €44 per person, with pick-up from your hotel, audio comments in the boat, a stop at the Néa Kameni crater and a swim in the hot springs of nearby Thirassia Island.
GOOD TO KNOW:
– There is no shade or water on the island: cover your head and bring your own bottles of water, in quantity because it is hot there,
– The number of visitors is very high during the summer months,
– The island is not accessible to people with reduced mobility,
– You must be able to walk on rough terrain and the ground can be slippery due to screes: have good closed shoes,
– Remember to bring bathing suits and tap shoes for swimming in warm waters,
– Sulphur water leaves a rotten egg smell on skin and clothing: take poor quality swimsuits,
– Opposite currents can surprise swimmers: the organizers, equipped with buoys, carefully monitor swimming.
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