Crystal-clear waters, the warm Greek sun, the hospitality of the Greek people. These are the things that make a Greek island vacation so special and all are found in abundance on the island of Milos. With more than 75 beaches of unparalleled beauty and an endless list of outdoor activities, this island gem offers a truly unique experience for an adventurous family.
Created centuries ago by underwater volcanoes and carved out by the elements, the entire island is a geological wonderland, yearning to be explored. Milos boasts some of the most stunning and memorable landscapes in the world, from pastel cliffs to dramatic rock formations. Caves dot the island, both natural and manmade, many resulting from the island’s rich history of mining obsidian and sulfur. In addition to its mineral wealth, this island playground is also rich in fun, culture and heritage and offers exciting opportunities for adults and kids alike.
Outdoor activities are the true draw of this Greek paradise, with activities for every age group. During the summer tourist season vacationers can go scuba diving, horseback riding, camping, hiking, canoeing and kayaking. The islands of the Aegean are especially known for the meltemi, particularly strong winds that make for excellent windsurfing and kite surfing conditions during the summer months.
The beaches of Milos cannot be ignored — in fact, they are the main draw. The island has an assortment to choose from, ranging from pebbly beaches to soft, sandy shores, but the most popular is Sarakiniko beach, an absolute must for all tourists to visit. Volcanic rock carved out by wind and water over the centuries created a stark contrast to the turquoise waters of the Aegean. Sunbathers dot the massive rock formations taking in the sun’s rays while swimmers dip into the sea to cool off. The waters are beautifully temperate, never getting too cold thanks to the thermal heating of the underwater volcanoes that formed the island.
Sailing tours around the island are available during the summer months and take visitors to see the beautiful rock formations off the coast, such as Kleftiko, an amazing outcropping of high, white rocks riddled with caves and hiding places. Its name is derived from the Greek word kleftis, meaning thief, due to the fact pirates once used the area as a hideout. These sailing tours also offer visits to the impressive sea caves, often inaccessible from land.
Milos was one of the first islands in the Aegean to be inhabited and has the prehistoric site of Fylakopi to prove it. In fact, there are ancient sites to explore all over the island. Try your hand at a historic scavenger hunt and visit the remains of the ancient town of Milos, now just ruins, and locate the remnants of an outdoor theater. From there, follow the small footpath into an olive grove where you will find a simple, non-descript plaque marking a unique place of historical significance to the art world. In 1825 a farmer was clearing some of his land to plant his olive orchard when he uncovered a marble statue known today as the Venus de Milo, famously on display in the Louvre of Paris.
The people of Milos learned to work their lives around the geological phenomena they call home. Homes are built around caves and mines, often using these spaces as garages. The resourceful residents even learned to turn their natural landscape into an advantage. Surrounded by cliffs on the southern shore of the island is a beach known as Paliochori, the home of a quaint seaside restaurant named Sirocco that serves “volcano food.” At times here the waters are so warm you feel like you are swimming in soup and the sand is too hot to walk on barefoot. In fact, the sand is hot enough to cook in and Sirocco does just that. Sirocco’s talented chefs take locally grown ingredients and seafood plucked directly out of the pristine Greek waters to create delicacies that cook, buried in the sand, while you swim. With a perfect view of the beach and a small playground, it is the perfect location for parents to relax with a drink and watch the kids swimming while lunch is being prepared.
The island is easily traversed by car or motor scooter, either can be conveniently rented from numerous locations around the island. If you require a vehicle with a manual transmission, contact car rental agencies well in advance as few manuals are available on the islands and get booked ahead of time. If driving isn’t your thing, buses frequent all areas of the island and your hotel can always arrange a taxi for you if needed.
Once a day of fun in the sun has worn you out, find a quiet little fishing village on one of the island’s sleepy bays and relax with an ouzo and plate of meze, or appetizers. Kids love the fresh squeezed orange juice that is a staple at every Greek establishment in the summertime and every kiosk is well stocked with a freezer full of ice cream. The locals are friendly, easy to talk to and love sharing stories of their island, making visitors feel right at home in this Greek island paradise.
With daily flights from Athens on Aegean Airlines and daily ferries departing from the port of Piraeus during the summer months, Milos is easy to get to. Many ferry lines travel to Milos from other islands as well, which make it an easy addition to an island-hopping itinerary. Visit (aegeanair.com) and (bluestarferries.com) to book flights and ferry tickets.