Kamari - Mesa Gonia
Kamari is the most famous beach on the east coast of the island. A walkway filled with cafés, restaurants and hotels lines the coast. It is 10 km away from Fira and 3 km away from the airport. In the summer months the beach can get very busy while the sun is up. Make sure to visit the cobblestone walkway after sunset to enjoy a stroll among street vendors and artists. When the red full moon is rising from the dark waters, a walk in the coastal pedestrian street is a perfect idea. Enjoy the sight and make a stop to eat or to have a drink.
It is worth mentioning that Kamari is of great historical importance, as in Mesa Vouno the ruins of the Ancient Thera were discovered. Ancient Thera is a city that was the only urban centre of the island until the expansion of Christianity. You may reach the ruins hiking up or by car.
Kamari has a well organised beach that stretches in many kilometers and is awarded with a blue flag. It has smooth black sand, playground, water sports, diving centre and lifeguards. Near the rock you will see the arch carved into the rock, a ruminant of the Ancient Thera, where the most daring ones will find it a good place for diving. Not far away, you will see the ascetic residences, natural caves found inside the rock or small buildings that ascetics used in order to retire since the late 17th century.
Hotels, travel agencies, cafeterias, beach bars, vivid night life and numerous choices for food make up the image of Kamari.
In the central square you will see Panagia Mirtidiotissa that has a festival on the 24th of September. There, during the summer, the local Municipality organises interesting music concerts and cultural events that attract visitors from all over the island.
The permanent residents of Kamari are more than 1.400. Next to the bus station there is a bank and an ATM and in the shopping mall you will find a cinema that operates during winter as well.
Mesa Gonia (7.5 km from Fira) was once a great centre of wine production that later suffered a few decades of decline. Since the early 2000’s, Mesa Gonia has hosted the untiring efforts of a few local wine producers and, nowadays, the area enjoys the presence of three wineries in its vicinity (Estate Argyros, Canava Roussos, Volcanic Slopes Vineyards). To get to Mesa Gonia, follow the signs from the main road towards Kamari and then turn right. Park your car for a while and walk through the traditional settlement.
The deeper you go in the village, the more controversial the landscape becomes, combing images of dereliction and civilization. Beautiful picturesque churches and few traditional houses are among the ruins that the earthquake left behind. As you go further up, the view of the village of Mesa Vouno and of the coastline becomes more beautiful.
Go back to your car and follow the road towards the church of Episcopi of Gonia, which is quite close to the village. The church was built in the late 11th century and is an important Byzantine monument. Episcopi is one of the few churches with tiles and it offers a magnificent view of the eastern side of the island.