Spirit of Oia – a Sunset to remember !

In Oia, on most evenings, something magical happens. People are happy…very very happy. Some come early, some come at the last minute… but all of them have a certain expression on their face. It’s like watching kids about to see a magic show. They come, they take their seats and they wait….

They come as couples mainly, but also as friends, as groups (small and large), or as families. They come from all over the world and its quite special to hear smiling faces speaking in all kinds of languages to each other. Its HAPPY hour in Oia, Santorini. Its “s u n s e t” time.

Since I promised you sunset magic I have gone out a couple of times to take photos. The sunset gods have not been kind, but magic still happens in Oia… even if the weather is not perfect.

As usual the sun-setters are in position early…waiting, chatting and taking photos.


What a lot of them don’t realise is that the best way to get great photos in Oia is by moving around. It’s a moving picture show and unless you move around you’ll miss some magic shots… like this:


On hazy days the light changes constantly… and the boats (as always) move around trying to get the best views for their passengers. Half the fun is trying to capture “the” shot…. if you’re there for the photos that is and not everyone is there for great photos. Most are there to share a great experience.

My theory on the fundamental need, we have as humans, to share an experience gives rise to many types of “why” questions. We humans are not just social animals. We are pack animals. We live in large cities together and we like to go to places where there are lots of others sharing the same experience with us. Not always of course…as you will see soon !

Sunset time in Oia is special for many reasons. It’s not just the view… as fantastic as it is. It’s the whole atmosphere around you. It’s the architecture, the topography, the people from all over the world around you and the “spirit” of the village. A multi-sensory torrent. Its a total immersion of sorts.

Did you know that humans have more muscles in their face, used for expression, than any other animal? Up to five main muscles and on occasion up to ten more. All used for expression. Useless information…I know, and I can only assume that not all of these are used to express pleasure… but let me tell you that the “pleasure muscles” work overtime at sunset…. I mean that in the cleanest possible way of course ;-)  

So visitors sit and wait…they chat, they drink, they dine or just cuddle – and they take looooots of photos. That’s because there is a lot to take photos of and the scene changes as the night progresses.



The sunset viewing side of Oia gets filled with visitors during peak season. They sit on roof tops, steps, hotel balconies and of course the old Kastro (fort). They sit and wait for the show to start… anticipation growing.



Other than the position of the sun the first sign that the show is about to start is the sailing ships below. Full of people…they cruise out for a closer glimpse then double back (depending on the weather) to allow their passengers to watch the sunset from inside the caldera.


Watching these old ships down below in the small bay of Ammoudi gives you a feeling you’re watching a live pirate movie. It just adds to the sense of magic of the place and makes the whole experience almost surreal.

But of course… its not just the old sailing ships that come out at sunset. Almost any captain of a ship/yacht/cruise liner tries to time arrival into Santorini at sunset. They all want to give their passengers a look at one of most spectacular sights in the world…. a Santorini sunset.


Obviously the timing of this particular captain of a privately owned (large, old-style yacht) was impeccable.  Just imagine the thrill of the guests on-board…. arriving in Santorini just as the sun was hugging the horizon. Probably not even aware that they themselves were adding to the magic of the show for all those high on the cliff.



The haze didn’t allow one of the great sunsets for all those viewing on the night… but the atmosphere of the village never fails to capture the imagination of the visitors. They will talk about for years, show their photos and talk of watching the sunset at Oia. They will applaud and they will talk to the people around them. Some will kiss, cuddle or hold hands as they watch. Some will make plans to come back, others will not want to leave.

But there are also some that didn’t want to be with the crowd. They wanted to be alone….wanted to share only with each other.


High romance…high on the cliffs of Oia.

Now THAT my friends, in my humble opinion, is the way to watch and remember an Oia sunset !


11 responses to “Spirit of Oia – a Sunset to remember !

  1. GORGEOUS photos as usual!! Thank you so much for hunting down and working so hard to find just the perfect beauties to share with us.

  2. I don’t think Michael had to hunt down OR work too hard to capture this beauty, Kirsten. This is the fantastic scene out everyone’s window or terrace here in Oia each evening. And it’s 100 x more beautiful in person! It can move a person to tears (am I being melodramatic, Michael?–I don’t think so!) Michael-we walked to Finikia this afternoon trying to find your wife’s shop but couldn’t…but we did manage to grab a coffee at Meteor. I think they have the BEST view out their windows. What a great place to be!! We are so blessed to catch a glimpse of your life here.

    • Allison’s studio is in Firostefani Ann Marie. Unlike Finikia that village is not within Oia…. it’s a short bus ride when going into Fira. Let me know if you want to go and I will give you some better directions. As for the view…. I think you have become one of the millions of converts after having seen it in real life. We are all blessed that this village exists !!!
      PS: pleased you enjoyed Meteor….hint: it’s a great place from which to watch the sunsetters as they leave ;-)

  3. I hope that lonely couple didn’t turn round and see you snapping shots of them :P

    Haha great post.. and amazing pictures!!!!

  4. I hope that you bless the world with a book of your beautiful photos someday.

  5. i am almost moved to tears, and i am just looking at photos. can’t believe i lived in the same continent for years and never been there. have to start making plans. your blog is an inspiration.

  6. I would have to agree with Ry about your book someday becoming available in bookstores the world over. You start with an outstanding subject but your poetic vision enhances and inspires!

  7. Anytime i feel like a little getaway, I come to your site here! What a breathtaking place this is…and your photos are marvelous! They just take me away!…thank you so much..
    gypsy in Canada

  8. shaun and jenni

    Have you ever watched the sunset from the other end of the island, below the light house ? I was amazed that no-one was there.

    • yes… it’s a different angle but no less spectacular. For a while we were going to live in Acrotiri so we spent a lot of time there… it’s even better in the middle of winter – very wild !

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