On day 2 we took an ATV down to the Black beach (yes, the sand is black). The beach was commercial, with restaurants and paid parasols lining the waterfront. The water wasn’t as agreeable as at Ammoudi. Visibility was barely a meter, and the view was dominated by a few small sea walls. Swimming wasn’t as effortless as at Ammoudi, but I managed to swim between the seawalls for the better part of an hour.
On day 3, in the blistering heat, we took the ATV to the south of the island and hiked over a small hill to the Red beach (yes, the sand is red). The volcanic nature of the island gives the rocks and sand of all kinds of colors. I’d heard about a white beach (there’s not much sand, but the rocks are white) a couple of cliffs away that was easily accessible only by water. I thought I’d swim in that general direction and see how far I got. I had no hopes of reaching it since I told that boats took 15-20 minutes to get there, but got quite close. This was the first swim where I managed any significant distance. I ended up staying in the water for 2 hours and swimming about 2 km. While swimming away from the starting point, I hugged the coast and stayed within visibility of wade-able water, but on my way back I was confident enough to cut across the bays in order to save time. This was when a passing boat asked me to stay well away.
Day 4 was when I knew that I had picked up something life changing. We were to leave Santorini for Crete around noon. But I was so determined to swim, that I woke up early, took the ATV down from our hotel to Kanakari, where I swam for an hour with only the fish for company. It was only as I got back that the first humans arrived to clean the shack and open it up.
What was special was the ordinariness of the morning. I hadn’t researched the beach or planned much. I only found out about it the previous night from the host at the hotel who said it was swimmable. I literally knew nothing else about it. It wasn’t touristy. No one accompanied me there. It was like I went for a morning run. This was the first time a swim was a relatively mundane part of my day.
I felt like I was becoming amphibious.