Milos is a beautiful low-key Greek island, and I’ve spent most of my time here swimming, snorkeling, and mingling with the locals. Simple highlights include fresh Mediterranean food and Aegean sunrises and sunsets. I’ve explored Pollonia and experienced nearby sites like Saint Nicholas Church. Dating from 1880, St. Nicholas is near the discovery site of the Venus de Milo statue.
Greece’s record-breaking heatwave this summer makes any activity (except swimming) more laborious. Sadly, for the past several days, the blue skies in Milos have been clouded with smoke from wildfires north of Athens on Evia, Greece’s second largest island.
Since I only have a week in Milos, I didn’t want to leave the island without experiencing its exceptional areas of “unique, legendary beauty“. For me, exploring by boat is more appealing than land, especially in the heat, so I decided to go sailing.
Milos is considered a “must-visit place for sea enthusiasts”.
Aria Calma Sailing Yacht
Aria Calma (calm air in Italian) is a 46 ft. Beneteau monohulled sailing yacht. Our trip aboard the beautiful boat began at 9 a.m. and ended at 7 that evening. We had numerous stops, gleefully jumping from Aria Calma into glorious blue and turquoise water to swim, snorkel, and explore caves and volcanic rock formations – BIG smile!! We didn’t go ashore during the trip. Alternating strokes worked well for me, and miraculously, I didn’t experience fatigue during hours of swimming!
The boat’s maximum passenger load of ten was appealing. Unfortunately, the person I booked with wasn’t optimistic about sailing, since low wind was predicted for the day. I talked to the captain, Alex, and got the same input. The weather was perfect, but not for sailing. Although disappointing to me, it was good news for firefighters. Today is a different story, with strong, warm wind whipping up the Aegean.
Crew – Alex and Alex
Aria Calma’s captain, Alex, is from Spain, but he’s lived in Greece for over 10 years and loves sailing the Aegean Sea. The other Alex, also a sailor, navigated the Canary Islands before moving to Greece. Peak Greek Island sailing season is from June through September, and the two Alexs have made 50 trips on Aria Calma so far this year – with likely another 50 to follow!
They were the most pleasant and mellow crew I’ve encountered in a long time. Both were natural and fun! Multi-talented Captain Alex entertained us by playing his classic guitar, singing, and telling funny stories. Energetic Alex II did amazing acrobatics from forward rigging lines, dropped and weighed anchor, and prepared healthy, delicious food. Alex II even made me a cup of fresh ginger tea. As the day progressed, there was a debate about where to find Spain’s best paella.
Like the crew, the passengers on Aria Calma were fantastic company! Of the ten onboard, I was the only solo long-term traveler, but I’ve grown accustomed to that, and it doesn’t bother me. Also, I was old enough to be everyone’s mother – and that also doesn’t bother me. Unlike the younger passengers who faced the sun all day undaunted, even with 50 sunblock, my skin complained. After hours of straight-on sun exposure, I threw on a sun-protective snorkeling top.
The Greek Islands are a popular travel destination for Greeks and people from EU countries. There was a group of three Greeks, plus three couples – two from Italy, the other Ireland. Most of the passengers were in their 30s. They were some of the nicest and most sincere people I’ve met in my travels.
I spent time talking to the Irish couple who were living in Brussels but call Dublin home. They offered pointers on places to visit, as (covid permitting) I’m considering visiting Ireland and Scotland.
Our day began in Pollonia Harbor and included multiple points of interest, all with exceptional swimming areas and spectacular rock formations. I lost track of the names of beaches and small, uninhabited islands we passed. A few highlights included:
Milos is the “fifth largest island in the Cyclades complex”. It’s located at the “southwest corner, halfway between Athens and Crete”. Along with Santorini, Nisyros, and Methana, Milos is one of four volcanic islands.
“The volcanic origin of Milos gave the island a remarkable and diverse coastline 125kms (78 miles) in length with a landscape that changes every few miles,” The Milos coastline is “blessed” with over 75 different beaches, plus sea caves and small coves with crystal-clear water and unique geological rock formations.
Two neighboring islands, Kimolos and Polyegos, add to the richness of the area. Polyegos, with its famous “Blue Waters” location, is a favorite yachting destination. There were several yachts, a catamaran, and a super yacht anchored in the area.
Polyegos – Island of Goats
We travelled from Milos to Polyegos Island for a swimming stop. Polyegos’ pristine beaches are known for their beautiful blue-green sea water and remote bays.
A boat trip to Polyegos is a special experience. The island isn’t “well-placed for excursions from Milos’ Adamantas Port“. However, you can catch a day trip from Pollonia harbor that regularly cruises the Polyegos coastline. The area is away from Milos and Kimolos, so you’re “completely alone on a wild coast in the middle of the Aegean Sea”!
EU Natura 2000
Polyegos is the largest uninhabited island in the Aegean. The island and its neighbor, Kimolos, are habitats for rare species of plants and animals. They’re part of the “EU Natura 2000 network of protected biotopes“.
“Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. It offers a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.” European Commission
Reptiles, migratory birds (including the Eleonora Falcon), and wild goats (Polyegos means “many goats”) are common on the island. Less visible are “increasingly rare Mediterranean Monk Seals that dwell in the sea caves along the craggy shoreline”. Impressive volcanic rock formations rising from the water off the tip of Polyegos create another visual delight.
Polyegos beaches include Pano Mersini, Kato, Chochlakia (Blue Bay), and Pisina (Swimming Pool). Ammoura (or Faros) on the eastern side has a path leading to a lighthouse with “magical views”. A hiking trail near Panagia Beach leads to the Church of Kimisis Theotokou, another excellent viewpoint.
Sea Caves and Kalogeri Rocks
Pirates used to sail into Polyegos sea caves hiding and waiting to attack and pillage unsuspecting merchant marines. Over the years, the sea cave roofs collapsed, “allowing the sun to give the water an amazing blue color”. To the north, Diamantospilia Caves, are big enough to fit a sailboat. The name “comes from the fine crystal quartz and mineral content in the rocks”.
Kleftiko Caves and Pirates
After Polyegos, our next stop on the southern side of Milos was Kleftiko, a former pirate hideout. Only accessible by sea, the “passage of centuries and the power of the sea and wind created Kleftiko’s unique pits and hidden caves”. Kleftiko is aptly described as having “shockingly rare beauty”.
In winter, Kleftiko becomes a refuge for Mediterranean Monk Seals. The clear water is surrounded by an “imposing series of volcanic gray-white rocks in strange formations” leading into Sykia Cave.
“Kleftiko’s wild rocks combined with turquoise water create a dreamlike scenery that’s hard to capture in photos.”
“Kleftiko dates back to the activities of pirates who operated for centuries on the Aegean Sea, terrorizing unsuspecting merchant ships. The pirates used cave-like coasts in Kleftiko and the south of Milos as their operating base.”
The pirates hid, and when a ship appeared, they attacked it. Their actions ceased after the Revolution of 1821, with the appearance of Greek Admiral Kanaris. Kanaris protected the Aegean islands from the scourge of pirates.
The photos attached (mine, media shots, most uncaptioned) give an idea of the extraordinary beauty of this area. You really must see it in person! It was a magnificent day of swimming in island scenery with great company.