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Celebrating My 30th in Sun-kissed Santorini


On September 27, 2017, I finally hit the BIG THREE ZERO, 30.

For as long as I can remember, hosting a destination birthday trip with some of my closest friends and family seemed like a far-off dream. Then I realized that turning 30 is the kind of major milestone you can’t replace. It only happens once, and there was no better reason to turn this dream into my reality.

It was important for me to be in an environment that promoted self-reflection over the past 10 years and eased me forward into the future. After much deliberation, I decided to hold my celebration of life in Santorini, Greece.

Santorini is small and is the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands. It's known to be one of the best places to travel to in September because tourist season has subsided, the weather is still sunny and warm, and there are plenty of fun activities to do around the island.

Santorini Bucket List

Before leaving for our trip, I created a bucket list of things to check out without having too strict a schedule for 9 people. Here’s what we were able to do during our 5-day adventure!

✔ Be beach bums Santorini’s geographical location makes its beaches super special. Kamari beach is pebbled with smooth, black, volcanic rock and has plenty of local bars/restaurants along the pier. Red Beach is more remote, with a dramatic, Redrock landscape and a small hike to the water. Around the island, the water is temperate, lapis blue, and you can see clearly down to the ocean floor.

✔ Explore local villages Oia and Pyrgos were ideal neighborhoods for wandering, shopping, and sipping coffee with stunning views.

✔ Catch a sunset The sunset at Akrotiri Lighthouse this was the most captivating, breathtaking sunset I’ve ever seen in my life.

✔ Rent ATVs We rented a minivan and ATVs to scoop and shuttle our group around. Riding the ATVs was liberating - with the wind in our hair, breeze against our skin, and the smell of fresh herbs throughout the island.

✔ Guided tours Large group tours were the most reasonable price at 28 euros per head. We set sail around a sun-kissed Santorini on a 5-hour boat tour. We hiked the caldera volcano, jumped off the boat to swim in the cool Aegean Sea, took a dip in volcanic hot springs, refueled with a delicious seafood lunch, and hiked the cliffs of Oia to be rewarded with a magnificent view at the top.

✔ Visit wineries Domaine Sigalas had top rated dry whites and Venetsanos Winery had the best view.

✔ Eat...A LOT Hands down, our favorite restaurants on the island were Metaxy Mas Taverna and Anemoloos Taverna. You’ll need a reservation for both.

So there it is: My 30th Birthday celebration in Santorini with friends and family was a dream come true. There were beautiful beaches, panoramic views, delicious food and wine, love, laughter, and new experiences we’ll never forget. I’m ready to glide into my 30’s.

Laney's Playlist for Sun-kissed Santorini

30 / 30: Life Lessons Learned