Milos Island

The high-speed ferry from Sifnos took only one hour to cover the distnace between Sifnos and Milos, and just about noon time we were braving the July heat in search of a room at Adamas.

We found none, and we took the local tourist office advice and drove to the northeastern end of the island, to Pollonia where we found a large room for the entire family. Polonia has the feel of a by-gone fishing village that has adopted to the summer crowds in an interesting way. While Polonia itself retains a bit of its old character, the development of rental room construction has transformed the eastern end of the Pelekouda peninsula into an

architectural desert where a multitude of identical buildings compete for the far too few tourists that venture there.

During our visit we did what we always do in the Greek islands: we went swimming every morning and every afternoon, we enjoyed the local food, and we absorbed as much of the landscape as we could. The island of Milos, along with the rest of the western Cyclades is a favorite destination of Greek vacationers that adore the wide array of unique beaches, and the small towns that never feel crowded.

What distinguishes Milos from the other Aegean islands is its colorful landscape that has been slowly forming through gentle volcanic deposits. Milos, just like the neighboring Santorini is a volcanic island but its geological history is much gentler than Thera’s. Milos did not suffer a catastrophic eruption but instead it was formed in successive deposits of volcanic material that was layered over time to form the island.

The volcanic activity of the island is first traced to 3.5 million years ago when the island was still underwater, and continued with various degrees of violent eruptions. The most recent eruption has been dated to 205 CE. According to the “Geological Companion to Greece and the Aegean”.

These volcanic deposits are rich in minerals, and therefore it is no surprise that humans have been mining the island since antiquity. Obsidian dated to the Mesolithic era was found at the Franchthi cave in Arcadia and is believed to have come from Milos. According to archaeological evidence the island was inhabited in the early bronze age (around 3000 BCE), and it is best know in historical times for its destruction by the Athenians who during the Peloponnesian war found the Milean neutrality objectionable.

Today Milos is an island with two diverse personalities. Its rich mineral deposits have attracted enough investment for mining and its unique volcanic landscape attracts a great deal of summer visitors. The coast of the island is truly unique and shelters some of the best beaches of the Aegean, while its hilly interior (especially in the south and the west) has been severely scarred by strip mining.

During our visit we stayed mostly on the northern part of the island since it is the only area that offers some semblance of a tourists infrastructure, but we did get to explore a large portion of the island, save for some remote areas where the dirt roads became impassable by car. We stayed on the island four days which felt like the right amount of time to enjoy its offerings. Next time we visit we will make sure to take one of the day cruises around the island since our scheduled trip was canceled due to the roughness of the sea. A first day cruise would have been a better plan than a last day.

Beyond the excellent beaches and the unique coastal landscape, Milos is an island best suited for those who enjoy the quiet and slow pace of a Greek island. The inaccessibility of most of the southern coast is also an attraction for young hikers who search for deserted sandy coves to spend the day. Even though Milos is considered an island for young people, we did not see any evidence of wild partying, and the town of Pollonia where we stayed was positively family friendly.

In retrospect we left the island pleased with our visit, and also awed at the untapped potential of the landscape. Besides the mining companies that have scraped just about every corner of the island, the tourist infrastructure seems to be in early development throughout. The rooming opportunities exhaust themselves on the “very basic” level, and entertainment revolves around few restaurants, cafes and bars in Adamas, Plaka, and Pollonia.

The few archaeological sites and the museum are interesting but they also felt underdeveloped. Nevertheless, the landscape and the beaches more than make up for any deficiencies, and in the end they are the reason so many Greeks choose Milos Island for their vacation.

map of Milos Island
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