Santorini is one of the most famous Greek islands, mostly frequented by tourists, couples, and anyone else who isn’t getting liquored and looking for tang on Ios or Mykonos. As my first port of call after a good 36 hours of traveling, you would correctly assume that I was eager as anything to get out and stretch my legs. And skateboard.
The only problem is that it’s very, very hard to do in Santorini. Civilisation has been there for a long time (since the Bronze Age), and so many of the roads are ancient as you might expect. Some have been repaved, but only because they’re incredibly busy thoroughfares (buses during the day, drunk tourists on scooters at night). Downhill skating here is dangerous.
The roads here are shocking. There’s a place called Ancient Thera that lies on top of a steep hill with 22 bloody perfect hairpins, but the road is paved with cobbles and rough cement slabs that are just waiting to make you eat it. There are some gnarly well-paved straights elsewhere, but the tar is thick with sun-baked truck oil and the corners quickly dissolve into cheesegraters. Throw in some of the aforementioned drunk tourists and buses and you have suicidal runs that would make Jacob Lambert quit skateboarding.
There are hairpins everywhere. If run quality were based purely on grade and Google map imagery, this place would be heaven (albeit a very sweaty, boozy heaven). Unfortunately, downhill skaters also tend to worry about a few other things, like the odds of surviving a run. Bummer.
Traffic is a weird one to judge here because some roads will be way quiet at certain times of day/night (ideal), but some other mitigating factors (shit tar, no light), might make the runs unskateable (not ideal). I’m giving it a 5/10 because god knows Santorini needs all the points it can get.
Once you get past the terrible pavement, heavy traffic, and curves that tease you and then throw their drinks down your pants, you at least get something beautiful to look at. The sunsets are incredible, the sea is all sorts of blue, the weather is always sunny, and the people are generally good-looking. It’s a happy place to kick back and forget how many iced coffees it takes to put you on edge.
Overall score: 6/10.
Judging anything skate-related has always been a tough one for me, whether it’s gear or destinations, because it’s always kinda fun, no matter how fucked up you get or how flatspotted your wheels become. So – although it definitely isn’t a skate destination in itself, taking a proper downhill board to Santorini would be a humbling experience, although you might die. If you’re doing a Eurotrip and want to take a break from crushing perfect mountain passes in Norway and catch some sun, bring the board with you for shits and giggles. More shits than giggles though.
Words can only tell so much, and so I also took a bunch of snaps. Enjoy.
Read the second article in this series: Should I take a skateboard to Paros and Naxos?