Milos: a Great Place for Boats (and Goats)

Milos: a Great Place for Boats (and Goats)

Have you ever found yourself looking for a nice, secluded island getaway, with as much beautiful scenery as Santorini (at least, according to the people I talked to), but without as many pesky tourists? Well, Milos is the island for you. It is a small island, near Santorini, made from the same volcanic rock, but has way fewer tourists comparatively. The island is shaped out of beautiful volcanic stone, with all sorts of colors mixed in for variety. It has exceptional beaches (some of which I will touch on later) and excellent snorkeling. Another thing that is unique about Milos is that trees are very uncommon there. A noticeable lack of vegetation is clearly visible across most of the island, which is odd for an island formed by volcanic activity. Another odd thing about Milos is the airport, which is basically just a small building with one gate and a strip of asphalt outside for the planes to land on. The airport building is the size of a small house, and quite honestly, I thought the runway was a small parking lot until the plane started to fly towards it!

One of the first things we did when we got to Milos was take a catamaran tour around the island to see the sights and go snorkeling. This strategy of exploring Milos was especially effective due to the fact that the island has a lot of beaches that are amazing, but can only be accessed by boat. The company running the boat tour was Naya, and the boat used was very nice! There were multiple sun beds on the top, a nice net to sit on, comfortable seating in the shade, and a very quiet motor. All in all, a great boat! On the way to the first snorkeling spot, I sat on the sun deck, lounging and waiting for us to arrive, and wondering what the beach would be like.

When the boat turned the corner into the first cove, I was immediately impressed. The cove was a shallow area, with water that was a color as clear and blue as arctic ice, and nearly looked like a solid piece of stained glass spread between two peninsulas. The water felt very cold because of how early in the morning it was, but after a bit of indecisively sitting on the boat, I hopped in. Once I was below the water, it was even clearer than it was above it. I could see the bottoms of boats floating across the cove from me, and the view of the sea floor around me was amazing. The water had the same crystalline blue color down below it, and while there were not a lot of fish, there were a few unique ones. Namely, I saw a few with black and orange markings that drifted along the seabed like kites. When we were called to come back to the boat, I spotted another cool fish. There was a flounder that had flopped out next to the ship’s anchor chain, and I enjoyed watching the little undersea pancake slide around across the floor. It was quite cute, and I have a soft spot for two-dimensional fish. When I swam back to the boat, I discovered a surprise waiting for me! The people who ran the tour had set out a breakfast for us, some delicious toast with apricot jelly! Admittedly, I had at least four pieces of it, maybe more. It was that good.

After that, I climbed back up onto the sun deck and watched the sea go by. Then, with no explanation, the boat turned and began to head directly for a peninsula sticking out from the shore. The boat pulled in sideways, and I was surprised to discover that the peninsula had buildings installed in it. It had been a mine at some point, and so there were multiple buildings carved into it, including two tunnels, a tower, and a dock for ships to pull up, now eroded until only a few battered, rusted iron beams remained. We drove around the mines, taking in the sights as we cruised through the area, looking at how well the buildings in the cliff face were preserved. Then, we drove for a few more minutes before arriving at fig cave, a small volcanic cave hollowed out from the cliff face. I still don’t really understand why we went to fig cave, as we didn’t swim there at all, but it looked cool, so I am not complaining. The cave had an overhang above it, where a fig tree grew, likely what gave the cave its name.

The mines
another look at the same mines

Eventually, the boat pulled up to Kleftiko Beach. Kleftiko is a large beach with a very cool quirk, tunnels. The beach’s sections are partially cut off by cliffs, but a series of small tunnels in the rock connect the beach’s sections. These tunnels contain a ton of fish, which spill out all over the place outside the aquatic tubing, making the beach an excellent snorkeling spot. I snorkeled around for a bit, finding quite a few fish, including some weird little red and black ones (likely damselfish, but I didn’t know that at the time), as well as a bucketload of wrasse (which I thought were parrotfish at the time, but I am now more educated on the Mediterranean fish species) swimming anywhere and everywhere, and quite a few other small fish that while I do not know what species they were, I thought they were quite pretty. There were so many fish! On the way back to the boat, I discovered a new pastime, as well. Once I was done snorkeling and some people were still out, I discovered (with the help of some other passengers on the boat) that it was quite fun to jump off the front of the catamaran repeatedly. I did this almost a dozen times, and it was quite fun. I personally recommend this if you have extra time at the beach on any of your boat tours, as long as the water is deep enough.

When I came back to the boat, lunch was ready. It was a platter of grilled chicken and salad, but I pretty much only ate the chicken and some tomatoes (although both of those were great). We ate lunch with another group on the boat, a family from Italy, Elisabetta (although she is usually called Betty), Nicola (he is quite funny, in case you ever meet him) and their daughter, Carolina (who is very nice and quite friendly). We hung out quite a bit during the long boat ride to the next beach, which was quite a ways off from Milos, on one of the nearby islands. I talked to her family, and they were quite nice. Carolina really seemed to like my photography, and her family also appreciated it. In return, I saw a lot of photos of her family, and they were great! Another interesting thing about their family is that they spoke amazing English, so it was nice to have friends from Italy that I could easily communicate with. By the time the boat reached the next beach, we were already friends.

When I got to the next beach, I was amazed by the water there. This beach was nicknamed the “Blue Lagoon” for a reason, the water was a beautiful sapphire color, like the surface of a massive disc of opal, and I absolutely loved it. The fish seemed to love it, too, as there were swarms of them surging through the water here like flashing waves of silver (and some other colors, too), refracting the light. It was amazing, and once I tired of snorkeling (which took quite a while), I jumped off the front of the boat several more times, too. Some people got the idea to climb the cliffs beside the lagoon and leap off of those into the water, and they somehow survived (I discovered later that they were practiced cliff-divers back at their home), swimming back just a few minutes after their enormous leap, which I would’ve never done, even if you paid me. The high dive is just about the top height I will jump off of (on a good day), and I don’t particularly want to jump off anything taller than that, especially not a giant cliff with rocky spears protruding from every available surface.

On the way back from the remote island, Carolina’s family invited me and my family to go to dinner with them at Medusa, a local seafood restaurant. We accepted, as it was a good opportunity to hang out with our new friends. Once we got to the small village of colorful fishing houses where the restaurant was, we found Nicola standing near the restaurant. He explained that Carolina was down at the docks with Betty watching the sunset, and that they should be back soon. Sure enough, they walked up from the stairs leading to the water just in time, as he had just gotten a table for us. We all sat down, and the waiter asked if we wanted bread. Nicola immediately asked the waiter “why would I not want bread? I am Italian, so I definitely want it.” We then ordered appetizers, and enjoyed our basket of bread (and went through two more before dinner was over). After everyone ordered an appetizer, we shared them with the table. One of the best appetizers was a little bowl of smoked eel, which was incredible! I never knew eel had so much flavor! The entrees came, and I really loved the grilled octopus, which was amazing (and while it was technically an appetizer, they added an extra tentacle and it became an amazing entree). My mom’s swordfish souvlaki was also excellent, though. Then came the interesting part. Carolina’s dad ordered a plate of fried calamari and challenged me to an eating contest. Little did he know, I have a practically bottomless stomach, and I kept pace all the way to dessert. Then, I finished off an incredible, tangy lemon cake, which was a wonderful dessert (you should order one if you can) and ended the contest. I had held my own in an eating contest against an Italian! We both laughed about this for some time, and unfortunately, since we had polished off dinner so fast, we now had to wait for everyone else (also known as my mom) to finish theirs.

On the next day, I enjoyed a goat tour, wait, no, I meant a second boat tour. The lines between the two were blurred this time, though, as we traveled to Poliegos, a small uninhabited island off the coast. The name meant many goats in Greek, and was aptly named, there were in fact many goats. This tour was unique for multiple reasons. The first reason was the boat we used, which was a traditional Greek fishing boat. Another reason this tour was unique was because Andres, the guide of this tour, also delivered fresh fruit to a multitude of other boats on the way, and basically ran a grocery restock service for a lot of the yachts in the area. Another unique aspect was Andres himself, who was quite funny! For example, when someone drove into the cove we were in to snorkel, he drove the little lifeboat out to them just to offer them some bread he had grilled recently. It was quite funny, because when they said “you can keep it” he responded with “what, are you telling me you don’t like food?” It was really enjoyable to watch, and it was also quite the spectacle to see him driving the little boat one-handed while holding a stack of grilled breads with tomato and olive oil on them.

Our first stop was the blue lagoon, which was still quite fun to swim at, even though I had been there previously. When we got back, Andres had prepared us some melons from his farm, which were exceptional.  It was probably one of the best melons I have ever had. Once we had eaten our fill of the melons, he picked some up, split them into little pieces, and fed them to the fish, which shot up like little torpedoes to devour the melons as they were thrown. Apparently, the fish liked them as much as we did. After that, we continued along the shoreline, with Andres stopping to drop fresh produce at a dozen yachts along the way. A little ways along the coast, I spotted two winged shapes darting overhead, and, after an inspection of their flight patterns, location, and speed, I deduced that I had seen a pair of Eleonora’s falcons. These majestic birds are similar to Peregrine Falcons, but are harder to find due to their habit of nesting on extreme sea cliffs in remote areas of the world. This was certainly the first time I had ever seen one, and they were amazing to watch as they shot through the skies like arrows.

We stopped at the next beach a little bit later, a little knife-thin cove cut into the sea cliffs, which gradually widened into a sheltered, sandy shoreline. As we drove in on the boat, goats began to emerge from the rocks. At first there was only one of them, but more quickly appeared and soon we had a surprisingly large number of goats in the area (I believe we ended up with seven or more goats eventually). Andres explained that the goats know the sound of his boat’s engine, and that as soon as they hear it, they come running from nearby areas to get food. We stayed there for most of the day, and it was a wonderful beach to lounge at. As soon as we got there, Andres pulled out a charcoal grill and began to cook our lunch, and the smell of grilling bread, calamari, and skewers started wafting from the grill in huge waves. While we waited for lunch to be ready, we fed the goats (which were adorable, and I wanted to take one home). The goats were wonderful, as they loved the attention, as long as it came with food, giving us an amazing way to interact with them. After feeding the goats, I swam around for a little bit, then came back in, as the bread Andres had cooked was ready. It was amazing, grilled bread with fresh olive oil and tomato sauce, with just the right amount of crunchiness. It was amazing, and I had never eaten cooked bread that was so delicious it was nearly a meal before! Then, Andres pulled out the main course (after the salad, which I promptly ignored, so I can’t tell you about the flavor of it, but I bet it was great, everything else Andres made was very good). It was exceptional. There were piles of chicken, beef, and lamb skewers with calamari rings stacked on top in a massive hill upon the serving plate. I piled the food I wanted into a slightly smaller hill on my plate and began to eat it, savoring the way the juice rolled down my mouth from the outrageously tender meat. It was amazing, especially the lamb and calamari, which were extremely tender and seasoned to perfection. I also discovered the wonders of Greek soda on this boat tour. Specifically, there was one sour cherry soda that was perhaps the best carbonated drink I have ever had. This soda was so good that I was able to convince my parents to buy it from an online shop, and they have never been fans of sugary drinks. It was amazing, an explosion of flavor unlike anything I have ever had before. I mean, my mom loves it, and she hates sour treats with a burning passion. That is how exceptional this drink was. If you go on Andres’s tour, I personally recommend checking his cooler for a sour cherry drink, but if you don’t want it, that’s your loss. Oh well, more for everyone else on the tour, and they will definitely appreciate it.

On the way back from Poliegos, we stopped by an old cave that pirates used as a hiding place. It was quite cool, but we didn’t get to stop there for very long, as Andres had another destination in mind back on the main island of Milos, Seagull Rock. This rock (at least, when we got there) didn’t actually have many seagulls (there were about three on the entire rock that I could see), but what it did have were beautiful granite pillars stretching up into a weird geometric design that made it look like a child had built it with a play set made up entirely of gray geometric pillars of different lengths. It was really cool, and I never knew that rocks like that existed! Then, just as the sun began to set in a blaze of gold and pink light, we came back into the port. It was an amazing boat tour!

the pirate cave
seagull rock

Overall, boat tours were an amazing way to get to see Milos, and I recommend them for anyone who wants to get a full tour of the island, as well as some great food and some wonderful access to remote snorkeling spots. I would also recommend these two tours we went on, as they were both wonderful! Personally, I really enjoyed Milos as a whole, and I think that if you went, you would love it too!