AdventureYogi Santorini, Greece
An uplifting sunshine yoga holiday on the chic island of Santorini in Greece
This is a deliciously uplifting holiday that touches on the spiritual side of yoga without ever taking itself too seriously. You’ll be staying in the small, but perfectly formed Pelagos Hotel, in a typical Santorini-style white domed houses, five minutes from the beach, surrounded by palms and fig trees, with a beautiful big pool. The location is magical, 5km from the spine-tinglingly pretty white town of Oia, with its blue domed churches, breathtaking sunsets and fashionable shops. Santorini is one of the most stunning Greek islands and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to soak it all up.
The morning yoga on the chapel terrace up the hill behind the hotel. It’s an amazing spot to take in the view and immerse yourself in nature.
The local town of Oia is 5km away and it’s not always easy to get a taxi back, especially if you are on your own, as a lot of the taxis are minibuses and prefer multiple occupants. Our advice is to buddy up with others in the group to make taxi rides easier and cheaper if you want to venture out.
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Twice daily yoga classes are mixed with plenty of down time and other activities including a day-long hike and a sunset wine tasting.
This is an accessible yoga holiday best suited to anyone who has recently discovered yoga and wants to delve deeper or more experienced yogis who would like to perfect their form on an uplifting week that steadily gathers pace. You’ll have two one-and-a-half hour classes classes a day, morning (8am) and early evening (5pm or 6pm depending on the heat), which combine yoga, pranayama (yogic breathing) and meditation.
The style of yoga taught varies depending on the teacher, but is usually hatha-based vinyasa flow, with the postures broken down then linked in a graceful flowing sequence. You’re likely to learn more than just the postures – AdventureYogi teachers delve into the spiritual side of yoga, encouraging you to live ‘in the flow’ with passion and purpose. For 2018 the teacher is Chetana Thornton, who trained in Ashtanga Vinyasa, Sivananda and Acroyoga (a dynamic style combining acrobatics and yoga). Her teaching style inspires reflection, encouraging students to dive inwards.
This is a breathtaking 16km-hike, with dramatic views of the looming lava cliffs and the volcanic crater filled with inky blue waters which is known as the ‘Caldera’. You’ll be walking up hill on uneven ground for much of the way, so it’s not for those with doubts about their fitness. The hike concludes in the chic white, cliff-clinging village of Imerovigli, with a sunset meditation on the famous Skaros Rock. The whole experience is quite magical.
Between classes you can lie on the sunbeds by the pool, take a stroll to the beach or take a taxi to town to shop and eat. Massages are available, at an extra cost – ours was holistic, deep tissue from Marios, who was training to be a physiotherapist.
Sea kayaking and scuba diving can be arranged. There’s also an optional boat trip, a fantastic fun day out in a catamaran which takes you on a cruise around the bays of the caldera and volcanic islands, with plenty of chances to dive into the midnight blue waters. Lunch and a free bar are included in the price. All these activities are paid for as extras.
This is a optional outing (paid for as an extra), a short walk from the hotel, to a local vineyard, where you can learn about some of the best wines Santorini has to offer. The setting amongst the vineyards is beautiful and the tasting wines are served with delicious platters of cheeses and cold meats as you watch the sun go down.
Bedrooms: You’ll stay in typical Greek-style whitewashed houses, with pretty blue doors and shutters. The rooms are simple, but freshly painted, with white tiled marble floors and decent cupboard space (we had about five hangars and two drawers each in a sharing room). All rooms have white en suite bathrooms with showers and a kitchenette area with a fridge and sink TV and air con.Single rooms offer you a double bed to yourself. Twin rooms have two single beds side-by-side (ideal if you’re with a friend and like to chat) or a mezzanine level with a double bed upstairs and single bed downstairs (better if you’re sharing with a stranger and prefer some privacy). Triple Rooms have two singles upstairs and a double bed downstairs. Or two adjoining rooms one with a double bed and two single beds in the other.
Other places to be: If you’re sharing a room and need a quiet moment, you can always slip away to relax on the terrace next to your room or kick back in one of the hammocks strung between fig trees at the hotel entrance. Or grab a quiet moment by walking up the hill behind the hotel to the blue-domed white chapel where the morning yoga is frequently held on. It’s a wonderful spot to immerse yourself in nature as you look out to the Aegean and the wind whips through the leaves of surrounding bamboo plants.
To see sunset in Oia from a restaurant terrace, you’ll need to book a couple of weeks in advance. The time of sunset varies but was around 8.30pm our our visit in July.
If you walk along the path beyond the restaurants in Oia, you can swim off the rocks where the brave can join the cliff jumpers. Skip the long taxi queues in Oia and head down the hill to Pagonis Tours, where they’ll call you a taxi to head back to the hotel.
When to Go
This trip runs in July with two separate weeks, the first and the second week. Expect the weather to be hot (highs of 30°C) and dry with blue skies and plenty of sunshine.
You eat next to the pool on a shaded terrace of white marble-topped tables. There’s also a tiny bar with a few stools which is constantly manned by one or two of the friendly staff. The welcome dinner and daily breakfast are included in the price of the trips. Other meals are as you please – you can get a taxi to town, or eat by the pool in the hotel restaurant.
At the hotel, breakfast is a simple Greek-style buffet of Greek yogurt, fresh fruit salad, feta cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, black olives and capers, brown or white bread, homemade marmalade or fig jam, honey, a homemade cake, hard boiled eggs, cereals and coffee and teas.
For lunches and suppers the hotel offers a simple menu of freshly-made, Greek dishes, salads and appetisers like tzatziki, fava bean hummus and grilled squid and swordfish. Then there is the blackboard of daily specials like beetroot salad, lentil salad, cheese pie and chicken korma. Organic cherry tomatoes, white aubergine, courgettes and figs are grown in the hotel garden. There’s also a full bar.
To find out where to eat out, ask the hotel staff for recommendations. We loved the great variety of good local restaurants in town. Don’t miss lunch in the beautiful little port of Amoudi Bay, in Oia (you can take a taxi directly here or walk down the 300 or so steps from Oia) for some fantastic fresh fish right on the water front. Book in advance to secure a waterside table, though you can be lucky if you just turn up. Sunset and Dimitris Taverna are both very good. Try Ambrosia for gastronomic food and great views, if you want to splash out. Kastro is another great terrace with sunset views and good food.
The hotel aims to use local ingredients, alongside those grown in their organic garden. They also recycle the the bottles in the bar and have solar panels to heat the water. AdventureYogi make recycling a priority at all of their retreats.
Airport: Thira, Santorini
Transfer time: 40 minutes