Exploring Milos, You’ll Be Shore To Love It

Exploring Milos, You’ll Be Shore To Love It

While the best way to explore the entirety of Milos is by boat, if you want to explore the parts of the island that are not touching the coast, exploring by land is a much better option. Additionally, boat tours don’t visit every beach. Therefore, I have some more recommendations to give for exploration. Now, as waking, swimming, and exploring all day can be tiring, I also have some food advice (but, when have I not had food advice) to help re-energize you. Milos is an amazing place to visit, and I can help with optimizing your time there.

First off, I will start with the weirdest (looks wise) and most famous beach: Sarakiniko. This beach looks like the surface of the moon. And I’m not just saying that it’s rocky. It is also nearly pure white and had weird cratered curves that make you think you are standing on a foreign planet. The only things at this beach that look like they belong on earth are the algae, the water, and the animals. The reason it looks like the moon is because it was formed entirely from white volcanic rock and gradually eroded into smooth shapes over time. It is a very strange look, and it barely feels like a beach when you walk down the path to the water. Down at the waterline, I found out the hard way that the rocks in the water were extremely slippery and covered with algae. Thankfully, this beach had a way to deal with the algae, too. Cleaner fish. They were adorable, and they spent their time munching on the algae on the rocks. At the very least, someone gets something out of the algae. Once I found a spot the cleaner fish had worked especially hard on, I was able to get into the water and start snorkeling. The snorkeling wasn’t great in the narrow channel out into the water, but once you get a little farther out, the especially interesting fish start showing up. There were wrasse all over the sea shelf, two types. They both were brightly colored and striped, but I especially liked the green and blue ones, which were more common than the little yellow ones, but a lot faster and a bit more skittish. One of the best sightings in the area was a swarm of sardines, which swam around me, and were awesome to look at. There were tons of them, and they spiraled around me like thousands of silvery torpedoes. It was incredible, and it felt like I was swimming through a sea of undulating mirrors. After I swam out of the sardine cloud, I found bigger fish. For example, there were two or three huge grouper-like fish swimming below me, and close to fifty wrasse chipping away at the sea plants on the walls. It was very pretty, and I swam around the area, exploring the strange sea cliffs. It was quite fun, but we wanted to get out before the crowds came in, so we decided to leave after swimming around for a few more minutes. When I swam back in, the algae posed a little bit of a problem, but I was able to get back onto the shore with a little bit of effort. I took a different path back up to the parking lot, and, to my surprise, I found a network of abandoned mining tunnels built into the walls. To this day, I am not sure what they were for, but I explored them a little bit, and found a few chambers off the side tunnels. These tunnels were cool, but I didn’t see much reason to keep exploring them, so I walked back up the hill and went back to the car.

Another awesome (and strange) beach was Paliochori. This one had something that sets it apart from any other beaches I have ever been to, bubbles. There were many bubble columns in the area, caused by geothermal activity. The fish loved this place, making it an amazing snorkeling location with some of the most unique underwater views I have ever seen. There were damselfish by the dozen, wrasse by the bucketful, and an enormous amount of assorted fish of all shapes and sizes. I guess the fish like a spa day every once in awhile, because they were prolific at this beach. The bubbles in the area made the water oddly warm, and it was really cool to see the bubble columns spewing up from the floor like tiny volcanoes. It was very strange, especially because they would often spew up without warning, breaking through the sand and shooting up to the surface. This then caused the water to be a web of hot and cold puddles, with some spots being frigid while others were lukewarm. I loved it, and I swam all over looking at the fish that darted between the bubbles and shot across the seafloor. The fish here were impressively large, and there were a lot of them, especially out in the deeper sections of the beach, so I was never bored. The deeper sections were weird for a few reasons. First of all, the slope of the seafloor meant that on some segments of the beach, it was very difficult to reach the bottom, making snorkeling and chasing fish hard out there. Also, the deep water was noticeably colder than the shallow water, likely because the bubble columns produced heat close to the seafloor, and the seafloor was farther away. In the deeper areas, there was also less sand, as large, lumpy rocks dotted the seafloor like strange underwater houses. Between the bubbles and the fish, this beach was incredible, and you are unlikely to find another one like it, making it a good choice if you want something weird. Or even if you don’t, give it a try, you could love it!

Now, for a much more normal beach, Firiplaka. While not as strange as the other ones, with one looking like an alien planet and the other seemingly being an underwater Yellowstone, it is still striking. This beach is your basic beach, sandy shores, the occasional rock in the water, and not a ton of fish, but with one small difference. The backdrop. This beach is set against multicolored cliffs that look like they were painted there, and a jumble of rocks in the same shades set up as a gradual slope leading up to the cliffs. If you go down to the clump of rocks at the end of the beach and climb up the rocks, you can find a second beach behind it that a lot of people don’t know about. It is a lot less crowded, even at peak hours, mostly because a lot of people don’t know it exists, and also because a lot of tourists are too lazy to go all the way down. Once you get to the other area, you should set up your gear and do whatever you want to do there. I, as usual, went snorkeling. There were not as many fish here, as I said before, but there were a few that I thought were especially cool. Specifically, the area was very sandy, and I found a lot of large, diamond-like fish with black and orange fins that looked a lot like vertical kites. They blended in with the seafloor and were very fast, so they were hard to get a good look at, but they were quite pretty. Once I swam out to a large rock sticking out of the seafloor, however, I found more interesting fish. Namely, wrasse, which were quite cute, and very brightly colored. They looked out of place in Greece, and seemed like they would belong more in Hawaii. Nevertheless, it was very fun to watch the little brightly-colored fish shoot around the seafloor and nibble on the vegetation on the rock. This rock was a massive, weathered monolith imbedded into the seafloor. It had a rather rough gray surface, and was pocked with tiny cracks and divots, making for an oddly textured landmark. These wrasse had found a very impressive house, and I very much enjoyed surveying the entire place. After swimming around the rock at least fifteen times, I swam back, because I was starting to get hungry. On the way back from the secondary beach, we walked through the first one, and the people were lined up and crowded in all the way from the cliff to the shore. Overall, I am very glad we decided to climb past the rocks onto the second beach, it was a lot nicer. There were only five or so groups of people (counting us) on the second beach, and close to one hundred on the first beach. That’s a fair amount of a difference, so I definitely recommend you go to the second beach unless you like sitting and swimming in crowds of tourists.

As for food on the island, there are a lot of amazing options. In comparison to Athens, the food is more traditional. This is a common theme on the Greek islands, simple food done right. I certainly appreciate it, as the food on the Greek islands was delicious. Now, for a quick option, Gyros of Milos is a good choice. I say that it is a quick option, but if you are thinking of traditional fast food, you would be greatly underselling the quality. It was very good, and while the food wasn’t particularly complicated, it was very delicious, and was amazing. I got a gyro sandwich, and it was quite tender. Additionally, their fries are quite good, and the pitas were well-made. It isn’t the most sophisticated restaurant on Milos, but it is still tasty, and it is a good choice for a quick lunch or dinner.

Now, if you want something fancier, I have the restaurant for you! O Hamos is the most famous restaurant on Milos for a reason, their food is exceptional. We also went here for lunch, and it was insanely good. One thing from the menu that stood out to me, which I decided to try here, was saganaki, or fried cheese. It tasted better than cheese should logically be able to taste, and had a ton of flavor. After that, we ordered chickpeas as an appetizer, and they were delicious. They were quite similar to Chana Masala from some Indian restaurants, but a bit more herby and a bit less spicy, making them extremely flavorful, and quite delicious. Now, the really impressive part of this place was not one but two insanely flavorful entrees. Both the goat and the beef were incredibly delicious, and probably some of the most tender meat dishes I have ever had. It was amazing, and it may have been one of the three best meals on this entire trip, if not the best altogether. The flavor was off the charts, and it was extremely simple. No overcomplicated seventeen-spice sauces here, just herbs, simple seasoning, and fresh ingredients from the local area. It was very good, and while fancy, the restaurant didn’t serve the over-the-top culinary math equations served by most modern fancy restaurants. While fancy, it was still comfort cooking, like something your grandparents would make you if you came over for the weekend. You know, if your grandparents could cook better than most people could dream of.

Now for a few restaurants combined. The ones around the harbor in Pollonia are a great option for a low-stress seafood dinner or a moderately fancy lunch. Another thing that helps to make eating here enjoyable is the cats. Most restaurants in this area are open-air and set along the beach, meaning that the area’s many cats are free to come and go as they please. They all want food, but they each take a different approach to getting it. Some will walk under your chair and rub against your legs for a very long time hoping for snacks, while some others just give you the sad eyes from just out of arm’s reach. Still others use the inventive tactic of stealing from the other cats. Over the course of a meal in Pollonia, you can expect to see at least three cats, and sometimes more than five show up at a time. My entree of choice for most of the restaurants in the harbor is shrimp orzoto, which I think is an amazing food if nothing else on the menu stands out to you. On the fancier end of Pollonia harbor dining was Marrone De Milos, one of the more notable restaurants in the area. There, I also recommend shrimp orzoto, but not as much, as they have other amazing options as well. For appetizers, you should definitely go for the zucchini fritters, as the batter on them was really crispy, and they were immensely flavorful. I don’t even like zucchini, and I loved them. They were that good. One thing I remember from here especially well is the octopus. It was amazing, and was extremely fresh, and grilled to perfection. I have a bit of a weak spot for grilled octopus, and I loved the one from here. Also, it came in an amazing green sauce that had so much flavor to it! For other entrees, I recommend getting some of their more interesting seafood dishes, as their seafood-cooking skills are quite impressive. My dad went the less fancy route and took a whole fish, but it was extremely well cooked, and had just the right ratio of spices and olive oil on it, so don’t underestimate the simple dishes, either. For dessert, get the crispy baklava layers. Trust me on this. It was very likely the best dessert I had on Milos.

As for breakfast (and just about anytime you want a pastry), Kivotos ton Gefeseon is a bakery in Pollonia that is not to be overlooked under any circumstances. I am reasonably convinced that they have the best pastries on the entire island of Milos, and they have incredible snacks and desserts of all shapes, sizes, and colors. For most of their desserts, you probably haven’t even heard of them, but after going here, you will be left searching for another place that makes them to the same level. That will be really hard to find, though, so good luck. I am honestly not sure what to recommend from here, as it was all insanely good. My one recommendation is a half-circle shaped custard pastry that is insanely good. Whatever you choose from here, I recommend you come back multiple times and try as much as you can.

If you want dinner and a good sunset view, you should go to the town of Plaka. Plaka is a town perched upon a cliff on the middle peninsula of Milos, and has incredible views of the sunset and the sea. Also, if you get here one hour before the sunset (thanks, Dad), you will have a fair amount of time to walk around the town’s narrow, tilted streets, giving you many opportunities to go catwatching (and no, that is not a real thing, but there are plenty of cute cats to see here). It is very crowded because of the sunset viewing, but you can escape the crowds if you are creative. For example, we walked down to an area that did not initially seem to be a prime spot, but upon moving slightly down a hill, we were able to get a prime view with no half-devoted tourists crowding us for a great sunset view, and didn’t need to line up an hour early for our spot. Because of this, we were able to view the sunset perfectly with no tourists clumped around us and were able to get an experience that is quite coveted among visitors to Milos. A beautiful red and gold sunset flaring over the sea, with no crowds to contend with for views. Once you are done soaking up the sunset, you will likely be hungry enough to soak up some dinner (potentially plate and all), I know I certainly was. For dinner, I recommend Avli-Milos. It is extremely delicious, just be careful you don’t accidentally sit down at the wrong restaurant, as there are two in close proximity to each other. Avli-Milos is the one in the courtyard, not the one outside near the tree. The restaurant has a lot of amazing options on the menu, but I liked the goat the most. It was on the same level as the goat from O Hamos, and you know how highly I commended that. Avli-Milos is an amazing choice for dinner, and everything on their menu was amazing. Also, they have a very cute, fluffy black cat (or at least, they did when I went there) that, while shy, did come over and rub on my leg a few times.

All in all, there’s much more to Milos than meets the eye. The food is simplistic yet incredibly delicious, the beaches are unique and very fun to swim at, the fish are wonderful, both for eating and swimming with, and there is a large population of adorable cats. The sunsets are beautiful, the architecture is great, and the people there are very friendly and laid-back. All in all, if you want to explore a wonderful island and have either a relaxing beach day or a culinary exploration of the Mediterranean, Milos is the island for you. However you choose to explore this island, I assure you, you’ll love it. It has a lot to love, after all! If you are looking for a good hotel option, allow me to recommend Phos Milos. It is an amazing hotel, with a lot of space and even a mini-pool on the room we got. Also, the owners are very nice and willing to solve almost any problem you had with the room. For example, our room had a wasp’s nest over the door, but they were able to get rid of it within the same day we found it. As an added bonus, the owners have a dog named Arthur, who you will immediately love. It’s almost impossible not to love him, he has super floppy ears, a great snout, and wonderful eyes. He tends to bond easily with anyone who pays attention to him. If you even look in his general direction after you meet him, he will likely come running over and sit on your foot, then beg you to pet him or play with him. He is amazing, and this is just another reason to stay there. If you go to Milos (which I very much recommend doing), I am pretty sure you will love it. I missed the island almost as soon as I got back from my trip.