Greece › Santorini › Best Boat Tours
by Santorini Dave • Updated: February 13, 2023
Boat Tours of the Santorini Caldera & Volcano
- A boat tour of the caldera is stunningly wonderful and awesome. There’s no way you should visit Santorini and not do a boat tour. For 2023, boat tours have returned to pre-pandemic style and frequency.
- A boat tour of the caldera is among my very favorite things to do in Santorini. Unforgettable and a must-do!
- Don’t worry too much about which tour you book – they’re all good. Emphasis should be on getting something booked in advance before they sell out for your dates.
- Day tour or sunset tour? There is not a huge difference between the two types of tours beyond the time of day. A day tour/cruise usually runs from 9 or 10 am to 3 pm, serves lunch, and has lots of swimming. A sunset tour/cruise runs from about 3 pm to 8 or 9 pm, serves dinner, has a little less swimming than the day tour, and typically finishes by sailing beneath the Oia cliffs to watch the sunset.
- Private boat tour or small group tour? I’ll be honest, I definitely prefer the private. You get more input on where to go, how long to spend at different spots, what music to listen to, and (sometimes) where you get dropped off at the end. Yes, private tours are more expensive but I’d be shocked if anyone regretted the money they spent once they’re on the boat.
- The description says, “all you can eat and drink”, is that really true? Yes, but with some differences between tours. The private tours bring the drinks out before you’ve left the harbor. The less-expensive tours hold-off for a bit until the boat gets to the first destination and you’ve had a swim, which might be an hour to two, but after that, it’s an open bar.
- There are no ferries to the volcano. The only way to do a volcano tour is to do a boat tour. You can not access the volcano unless you’re part of an organized (private or group) tour.
- The Jet Ski Tour To The Volcano is amazing.
- All boat tours have great views of the caldera cliffs.
- Cruise options include: hike the volcano; swim in the hot springs (you can always stay on the boat if you wish); visit Thirassia and explore its villages; stop at Red Beach and White Beach to swim and snorkel; eat lunch or dinner on board, and watch the sunset below Oia.
- GetYourGuide.com is the best way to book tours in Santorini. If you ever need to cancel it’s usually much easier if you’ve booked through Get Your Guide.
The 8 Best Boat Tours in Santorini
All boat tours below provide meals onboard and have hotel pick-up and drop-off (which doesn’t sound like a big deal when you’re booking but makes the day so much easier and hassle-free when the time arrives). Also, all tours enter the caldera, sail to or near the volcano, and have plenty of swimming and snorkeling. Food on the tours ranges from surprisingly good to great. And the boats are very generous with their alcohol – after every tour, I ask myself how they make money when they’re so lavish with the food and drink.
1. Private Catamaran Cruise
Wonderful private cruise of the caldera. Great food and plenty of flexibility on what to see and where to sail. Ideal for a luxury honeymoon cruise, small group, or family. The day tour departs at 10:30am, the sunset-tour departs at 3:30pm. Both tours last 5 hours. Be prepared to be insanely pampered. If the above tour is fully booked – which is common from June to September – then try the Private Sunset Cruise. Another luxury option if you want a little longer on the water is the fantastic 7-Hour Private Catamaran Cruise.
2. Small Group Catamaran Cruise
Sunset Cruise (2:45pm departure) or Day Cruise (9:45am departure). Awesome cruise around the volcano, staring up at the cliffs of the caldera. You stop at a few beaches for swimming and snorkeling, then swim in the hot springs near the volcano, eat a huge lunch or dinner, and finally see the sunset from the cliffs below Oia (for the sunset cruise). Lots of fun! If this tour is fully booked then try the Caldera Cruise or Santorini Sunset Cruise.
3. Santorini Day Cruise
Wonderful day tour with great food and friendly staff (10:00am departure). You can’t go more than 5 minutes without someone asking if you want another beer or glass of wine. But it’s far from a drinking cruise – the emphasis is on swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing on the top of the catamaran. You’ll visit a few beaches and the hot springs and have plenty of time to explore the sights of the caldera. (I did this boat tour last summer and it was awesome.)
4. Private Cruise on a Motor Yacht
This is an incredible way to see the Santorini cliffs and stare up at the villages perched on the caldera’s edge. The motor yachts allow for much more freedom in getting around the volcanic islands and seeing the caldera from every different angle. On a catamaran, you feel like you’re on vacation. On the motor yachts it feels a little more like you’re on an adventure (though there’s still plenty of swimming, snorkeling, eating, and drinking).
5. Volcano Boat Tour
Much less expensive and with a larger boat and group of people but still very fun. This tour is almost the opposite of the Sunset Catamaran Cruise. You get the volcano, hot springs (with swimming), and a visit to Thirassia island – but no beaches or going outside the caldera, and no sunset. This is the cheapest boat tour of the caldera.
6. Santorini Fishing Tour
This tour is very well done and lots of fun. Boat around the Santorini waters on a local fishing boat. Fresh seafood lunch or dinner served on board (eat what you catch and empty from the nets). The daytime tour is best for families and serious fishermen. The sunset tour is best for couples.
7. Santorini Jet Ski Tour
Not a boat tour, obviously, but super fun. We’ve done a couple of these tours (it’s always a small group of 2 to 4) to the volcano and they rank as some of the most exhilarating activities we’ve ever done. (That’s my son in the photo, 14 years old at the time.) The perspective you get as you ride through the caldera is awe-inspiring. A boat travels with the tour and is there for any emergencies or if the water gets too rough for beginner riders. The South Coast Tour is fun, but to see the volcano and caldera (which I recommend) you need to do the Volcano Tour or Extreme Volcano Tour. I would be shocked if anyone did this tour and at its conclusion didn’t yell, that was awesome!!!
8. Sea Kayaking Excursion
A fun and easy-going way to explore the Santorini coastline. The Morning Tour and Evening Tour stick to the south coast of the island. The Round The Lighthouse Tour goes into the caldera and offers incredible views of the caldera cliffs.
Map of Santorini Boat Tours
Hi Dave, thanks so much for all your recommendations. How choppy are these boat rides? I am concerned about sea sickness if you have any specific recommendations? Thanks so much!
The boat tours are typically pretty calm. Most time is in the protected caldera waters and if the sea is really rough the tour will be cancelled, in any case. The boat tours are definitely less rough than the worst ferry rides, so if you’re ok on the ferry you’ll be fine on a boat tour.
Just found this fantastic website – thanks Santorini Dave, have been finding it really useful! One question about the boat tours please, we’d like to do one, will they take 5 year olds? Thank you
Unless otherwise stated, boat tours allow all ages.
My friend and I are considering to book the Private Catamaran Cruise. Could you please give us some ideas about the range of the gratuities we should provide? Thanks!
Tipping in the 10% to 20% is appreciated. But the more the better – holiday workers really rely on tips to make a living wage.
Hi Dave – are there any boat trips available from Santorini that are maybe just 2-3 hours instead of a half or full day? Would like to be able to swim and just see some beautiful scenery, but will have a 4-year-old and husband that might be debatable if he would get sea-sickness so 5 hours feels like a big commitment. We’re staying in Oia – what might you suggest? We’ll only be on Santorini for 2 nights/1.5 days before moving on to Naxos. Thanks for all of your excellent insights!
There are no shorter tours on Santorini. Though if you booked a private boat tour (expensive, obviously) they would return you to port whenever you wanted. I will say the 5 hours goes very quickly. The only other option (as far as getting on a boat) is the ferry to Thirassia or the water taxis along the south coast beaches.
We are visiting Santorini the first week of November, will the water be too cold for these awesome excursions with swimming in hot springs and volcanoes? And if it is, is it still worth doing?
Yes, it likely will be too cold to swim for most (though not impossible for the bold). And also yes, it’s definitely still worth doing a boat tour even if you don’t swim. Views and perspective from the water are incredible any time of year.
Hi Santorini Dave
I’m looking to travel next year by myself possibly in May/September, which area of Santorini would you recommend I stay? I’m debating the time I’ll be staying but it will be between 5 or 7 nights.
Also, would you recommend any day trips to another island?
Many thanks, Alison.
I have several posts on this site about where to stay on Santorini and best towns and beaches. Take a look. In general, I do not recommend day trips to other islands. With the ferry schedules, it’s difficult to get more than a few hours on neighboring islands when you do a day trip. It’s much better to pack your bags and move to whatever island you want to see.
I’m going to Santorini and Mykonos for 8 days. Do you think it’s worth doing a boat tour on each island? I’ll only have 3 days in Mykonos.
Definitely do a boat tour in Santorini. For Mykonos it’s more of a toss-up. (If greek cooking sounds interesting to you, I’d probably do the cooking course instead of a boat tour.)
Thanks for all the information on this site.
Is there a sailing trip that just goes for a trip around the caldera, with no swimming or snorkeling? Maybe with the option of seeing the volcano close up and also the sunset?
Pretty much all tours have swimming but you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. And while others are swimming you can just relax on deck and gaze at the views. The tour carries on even when some are swimming so it’s not as if you just sit there on your own, bored – there’s still plenty of fun on board the boat.
Do you think boat tours are fine during winter season? Otherwise, do you have any recommendations for winter excursions?
Many thanks in advance.
If by winter, you mean December, January, and February then there will be few (if any) boat tours running and I don’t think I’d recommend them. If, instead, you might be visiting in March and get some good weather then they’ll be fine (though still not many running). A wine tour is a great year-round thing to do in Santorini. And walking the Fira-Oia path.
For the boat tours, do you need to swim to the beach or is walkable to the shore once they dock as close as they can? We’re not great swimmers and if that’s requirement we’ll have to book another boat tour.
For tours that visit the volcano, the boat will dock and you’ll be able to walk off without getting wet. For tours that visit the hot springs, the boat will anchor about 30 to 50 meters from the hot spring area and you’ll need to swim to the warm water. Otherwise, most tours stop near a beach for swimming and snorkeling but don’t really directly visit the beach. You’re fine staying on the boat and viewing the scenery (which is great) while others swim. On most tours about half the people swim and half remain on the boat, so it’s unlikely you’re the only one left on the boat while everyone else is off playing.
Will the boat tour to the volcano and hot spring be suitable for those who get sea sick?
Generally, it’s usually pretty calm. Depending on where you depart from most of the tour will be inside the protected caldera. Catamarans are more stable than single-hull boats.
We are taking our kids to Santorini the last week of March. What private boat tour would you recommend to take for the volcano tour?
It’s not so much what is the best tour but more what is available. As the time grows closer (February or early March) search Getyourguide for Santorini Boat Tours and choose the most appropriate.
I tried to book the private boat tour and the sunset tour above but both were fully booked for our dates. Do you have another good boat tour that you could recommend? Preferably a private one. Thanks!
There’s another Spiridakos boat tour that is excellent and very similar to the private tour I’ve listed above. It has departures of 10:30 (day tour) and 3:30 (sunset tour).
Dave, your advice on this site is awesome and very detailed. My fiancee and I are going to be in Santorini in August for our honeymoon and are definitely booking one of the boat tours, but we just can’t decide on whether to do a day or sunset voyage. Anything you can tell us that would help make our decision easier? Not sure if this has an effect on the analysis, but we are staying in Imerovigli which I understand has nice views of the sunset. Thanks!!
There’s not a huge difference: the day tour has more swimming time, the sunset tour has more evening hours. Be sure to take a change of clothes for the sunset tour (it can get chilly at night). The sunset tour has a later starting date which allows you to do something in the morning.
I’ll be staying in santoniri for a day this November. Arrive Friday morning to either Katikies or Kirini hotel, and then leave late Saturday afternoon to Athens. (Though I have to check out from my hotel by 12pm). Would you recommend a boat tour? If yes, which would it be. My issue mainly time and not price.
Both the 5-Hour Caldera Cruise at Sunset (3pm departure) and the 5-Hour Small Group Catamaran Cruise (9:30am and 2:30pm departure) run into late November. Both are great tours.
I am about to book the semi-private boat tour and we are going the last week of June into July (which, from what I understand, is a very crowded time of year). Do you think that the day of the week that we book the day tour matters much (Friday vs. Saturday vs. Monday)? I assume everyone on board is likely vacationing so I’m not sure if this would be significant, but if it may make a different in terms of the number of people on board, I’d love to know. Thanks!
There’s no difference between days of the week and busyness. Do whatever works best.
I have 3 full days in Santorini in the beginning of July. I’m looking into a boat tour or sea kayaking. Is it worth it to do both? What would you suggest? Thanks for your amazing resources!!
If you can only do one do the boat tour but if time allows do both, as they each have a very different feel. It’s a more surreal feeling being in a kayak at water-level looking up at the huge cliffs (depending where your tour goes). But you do get to do more when on the boat tour – it’s a more complete introduction to the caldera.
I am looking to book the sunset catamaran trip this summer. In the check out it asks for passport information. I just wanted to check this was a normal request/it’s safe to provide my information to this company?
Yes, it’s safe and secure. The information is requested by the port authority but it’s never used. You could put in your correct name and then just make up a letter/number combination for the passport number. They’ll never know and never look at it.
We are going to Santorini for one day in July via fast ferry from Crete. Are there any shorter cruises around Santorini that we can do in that window of time that we will be there?
No, sorry. There’s no boat tour (that I know of) that would get you back in time to get your return ferry to Crete.
We will be in Santorini for 3 days after ferries from Athens-Mykonos then Mykonos-Santorini. We were thinking of taking the ferry to Milos for a day trip. Is it reasonable to do in a day or will we be ferried out?
Thanks for your insight, love reading all of your suggestions.
Not worth it. If you want to visit Milos stay at least 2 nights and 1 full day.
I’m planning a honeymoon in Greece this upcoming May and your site has been an amazing resource – thanks! Quick question: Is May too early for the boat tours that have swimming? Thanks.
Yes, they’ll be running in May (usually start in April) and you’ll be able to swim. But water can still be a bit chilly. And note, hot springs are not “hot” just warm.
Hi there, I love to read and follow all of your posts so thank you for always having the most up to date information! We will be in Santorini in July and I would like to do a catamaran tour of the island and go into caves and see some of the hidden gems of Santorini. Is there a tour or boat that would do that?
Also, is there a boat that will take you to Mykonos for a day and back to Santorini?
I don’t know of any boat tours that take in caves. And don’t know of any Santorini to Mykonos tours either. There are much better islands to visit on a day tour from Santorini. Ios for beaches, Naxos for inland sightseeing. (That said, I typically don’t recommend doing a day trip from Santorini as time is much better spent on Santorini than on a boat. If you do want to see another island then stay a night or two to see it best.)
I am looking for a beach hopping trip in Santorini to visit the Black Beach, Red Beach, White beach etc. tour starts at 4PM or 5PM. How much for 2 people?
For these beaches best to do it yourself with this boat from Akrotiri. It will be 10€ per person round trip. Can also take a different boat back to Kamari (if you were taking the bus, if you’ve got your own car then you’ll need to return to Akrotiri). Last boat is about 6:30pm (but double check) so you won’t have a lot of time.
Hi Dave – Awesome site. Just became a patron!
Trying to select the right boat tour for my husband and I (going in a few weeks!). They all seem great so it’s hard to select. What are the key differences between these three tours:
Semi-Private Luxury Catamaran Day Cruise
5-Hour Small Group Catamaran Cruise
Sunset Catamaran Sailing Cruise in Caldera
In particular, trying to understand if it’s worth paying the premium for the semi-private luxury catamaran day cruise.
The single biggest difference is whether the tour goes through the day or in the late afternoon (and gets the sunset). The 5-hour small group tour is cheaper than the other two but will have a few more people on the boat and the food served is not quite as robust as for the semi-private and sunset catamaran cruises. More appetizers than the full meal you get on the other two. Fewer drinks are served as well. All 3 are great and you’ll love whatever you choose. My advice is to first decide whether you want the sunset or more sun/swimming.
Would like to do a private boat tour of caldera. It’s our honeymoon and want a super special day out on the water with food, wine, swimming, snorkeling, and the hot springs. Maybe take in the sunset too, but as you say, it’s a choice between more swimming/sunshine and sunset/evening so not sure what we’ll decide. What’s the best tour to book for our needs?
The Private Half-Day Catamaran Cruise of Santorini is simply awesome. It is expensive but I’m sure you’re expecting that already. There’s a morning departure (for lots of swimming and sunshine) and an afternoon departure (for the sunset – but still plenty of time to swim too). Food is top notch. If it’s within your budget this is the one you want. (If you do the sunset tour bring a change of clothes so you can change out of your wet swimming stuff and enjoy the sunset without a chill.)
We are visiting Santorini in the next few weeks. Is there a ferry that 2 people can take on their own and explore the volcano/hot springs, or is it only by tour? Please let me know! Much appreciated.
There are no ferries to the volcano or hot springs. You have to do a tour or a chartered/private tour. There are small boats that do regular routes to the neighboring island of Thirassia (that forms the western side of the caldera) but this isn’t the volcano.
We are looking for the best sunset tour around Santorini. Our only concern is that we also want lots of swimming. If we do the sunset tour will we have enough time to swim?
Not sure what you mean by “enough” but you’ll certainly get a good stretch of time to swim. It won’t be 10 minutes and let’s go. More like 2 to 3 hours.