Milos Island Greece - The Hidden Jewel of the Cyclades

The Island

Milos is a Greek island which is situated approximately 150 kilometres south-west of the Greek capital Athens. It is part of the Cyclades chain of islands which heralds more famous islands such as Mykonos and the popular and magnificent volcanic island of Santorini. Milos itself, although not as famous as the other islands, is unique because of its horseshoe shape, the fact that it was once an active volcano, just like Santorini. Milos is known for its breath-taking natural beauty of unusual rock formations, multi-coloured beaches and clean clear seas. Unlike other Greek islands it has no ancient ruins except for one famous statue 'The Venus de Milo' which was discovered on the island in 1820 and purported to be a sculpture of Aphrodite, and which now sits in the Louvre in Paris.

Exploring the Island

Being horseshoe shaped the island also resembles a beautiful necklace where the stones adorning the necklace are the rock formations along the islands coast. The main colour of the necklace is the pale blue of the Aegean Sea in a backdrop of white beaches formed from volcanic ash surrounding the island, which in turn is interspersed with a myriad colours of the sandy beaches ranging from a light cream to a jet black.

The majority of beaches are not easy to reach and finding them can be an adventure in itself. Some are only accessible by boat because they are situated at the base of towering cliffs. Others are accessible only if you have a 4x4 and survive the bumpy ride over dirt roads winding through craggy hills and some are only reachable if you have had a crash course in rappelling because a rope is needed to rappel down cinnamon coloured cliffs.

It takes at least four days to explore this island of 150 square miles and eke out some of its secrets. The majority of tourists that visit the island are Greeks from the mainland and this influx of tourists is enough to drive a flourishing island tourist industry. There are also plenty of European tourists who have through word of mouth heard of this jewel of an island. There aren’t however any visits from large cruise liners or giant airliners but there are a steady flow of tourists from the ferry boats and the island’s small airport.

Island Life

Milos has not completely escaped the financial crisis that has hit Greece in the last couple of years however, a few shops have closed. For all that life on the island, especially for visitors seems far away from the troubles of the financial crisis as tourists continue to pour into the island and leave the real world behind them.

Because of the relatively small size of the island the genuine lives of the 5,000 or so permanent residents of the island are constantly on show as is the island's long history of mining which distinguish the numerous hills and nurtures a large number of families.

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Exploring the Island

I would recommend to any tourist or visitor to Milos the journey that I made on my first visit there. It is a journey both tiring but invigorating. The first thing to do on a visit to Milos is to search for the splendid beaches that abound the island. Then climb if you are able and strong to the ruins of the castle the guards the whitewashed village of Plaka. Don’t miss the sunset at Plaka and also take time out for a scenic drive to the nonchalant town of Pollonia where the Armenaki restaurant serves an amazing Octopus lunch.

Visit the village of Tripita and lose yourself in the myriad of sunlit alleys which striking and spectacular. Photograph the boat garages which hang out over the waters at St. Catherine on the north coast. If you enjoy moonscapes then visit the pumice stone dunes that completely circle the petite beach at Sarakiniko.

The energetic town of Adamas is a must see port town and if you want to stay overnight or have a long stay, you can’t do better than staying at the small family run Hotel called Anemos. It’s comfortable both in price and amenities and boasts sharp colours of all hues in its decoration. For breakfast walk down to the bakery and try their lovely hot fresh bread or their Koulouraki ringed bread.

Another marvellous meal to be had here is at the Hamos Taverna within walking distance of the centre of Adamas and opposite a beautiful beach. The name of the restaurant translates as ‘Chaos’ which it can be on a busy evening. For all that the food there is wonderful. Not cheap but not expensive and the entertainment is live. Not music you understand but the game is to see which server drops his/her dishes first. Kids will love it too because they can write all over the chairs and tables without hindrance. In fact its encouraged by the owners. Try the lamb chops or goat in lemon sauce. All cooked in pots made of clay. I guarantee you will be impressed.

Keep a day in hand to explore the hills at the western end of the island and search for hidden tiny beaches that quite unexpectedly jump out at you or you simply fall into them. However, make sure your tank is full and you have ample water and food. Don’t hurry though or you will miss your turning because the roads are inadequately marked and barely visible.

It's worth the time to find the tiny, pleasing beach of St. John, where there's some shade and a lot of space to swim, even if there are no facilities to speak of.

Along the south coast you will come across the pitch black volcanic sandy beach of Gerontas. You'll need a strong pair of shoes for the climb down from where you park your car through a dirt road before a short climb across a gully onto a soft sandy beach. It's big enough to allow 40 or 50 people to feel private, while the rocky cliffs offer refuge and a little shade. The swimming is effortless in the tranquil waters, and there are rocky caves, outcrops and even an archway for amusement.

If you wish to do the non-accessible beaches on the island of Milos you will need to do them by a guided boat tour. Elias is a boatman who does a beach tour of Milos in his boat ‘The Dream’. For this trip you start off in the morning from the fabulous, coloured small stoned beach of Paleochori on the island's south coast.

The first stop is at Gerakas, where the cream coloured kaolin cliffs decant into a smooth, thin strip of beach, where the beach's sanctuary from the open sea makes swimming there a pleasure in perfectly clear water.

Elias will let you spend some time at Kleftiko, on the south-west point of the island where the caves there were once used by pirates as hiding places. Lazy rock arches and other strange formations help create a wistful, fantasy cove that, like Gerakas, has a slim, billowing strip of beach with no opportunities for shade. You won't be alone here: Tour boats ply this area, each stopping for an hour or two. Elias even leads an amusing, if understated snorkelling excursion.

Lunch is always seafood in a red sauce with pasta, arranged in the kitchen in the boat's lower deck and the evening snack includes olives, cheese and of course the local ouzo.

On the way and on the way back, there are miniature beaches, caves and bizarre snouts of rock. There are also the mining businesses that load tankers that anchor next to the cliffs of kaolin.

When Elias sails the boat back into Paleochori, the sun will be painting a copper tint over the island, and 12 hours in the sun and water will have left you weary but revitalized at the same time.

Where to Stay

The only place to stay is the friendly and extremely reasonably priced and clean Anemos Apartments. Within walking distance of the port of Adamas and the shops. Situated in a warm, hospitable environment, on Milos Island Greece, Anemos Studios are ideal for a peaceful vacation. Newly built rooms and apartments, the Anemos Studios, are fully equipped. All rooms have a refrigerator, a cooker, a TV set, air – conditioning and hair – drying facilities. A wonderful place with a lovely couple running it. They also own Milos Rental Cars and will give you a substantial discount off the daily rental rate if you stay in their apartments.

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