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Swimming in Papafragas ravine
Swimming in Papafragas ravine
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Located halfway between Athens and Crete in the Aegean Sea, Milos is the most southern of the Greek Cyclades islands. Although it is only 23 kilometers long and 13 kilometers wide, it has more than 75 beaches.

"Milos is a volcanic island," explained our Celestyal shore excursion guide Gladwyn. "It's also called the island of 100 beaches." Because it has so many amazing beaches, Celestyal Crystal offered a separate tour for beach-lovers from Adamas, the port where the ship anchored.

Papafragas ravine

Our tour bus drove to Papafragas on the north coast, one of three natural ravines in succession. "It's named after a Jesuit priest who used to keep his boat here," said Gladwyn.

Peering down into the blue-green water, we saw people swimming between the steep white volcanic tuff cliffs. To access the secluded tiny beach at the base of the inlet, you need to climb down a steep path and stone steps cut into the rock.

12,000-year-old archeological site

Looking out at the man-made caves above the arched rock entrance to the inlet, it was easy to see why pirates used to hide here. Near the parking lot above Papafragas, we saw a 61-meter-long pile of rocks.

"It is part of a archeological site that dates from 10,000 BC. Sailors used papyrus boats to trade with obsidian from here," explained Gladwyn. "Mining is still a major industry on Milos. The Hoover Dam was sealed with bentonite from Milos because it's very high quality."

White volcanic cliffs overlook Sarakiniko beach
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Sarakiniko beach

The most dramatic beach on the 151-square-kilometer island of Milos is Sarakiniko, located just a few kilometers west of Papafragas on the northeast coast. Volcanic eruptions, the Aegean Sea and winds have sculpted the white volcanic ash tuff into whimsical lunar shapes.

We climbed the cliffs and looked down into the inlet where people were sunbathing and walking through the shallow water. As we explored one of the man-made caves bordering the beach, Gladwyn explained that they were mine shafts left from the days when islanders mined kaolin and exported it to make porcelain.

Delicious pastries at Mouratos Bakery
Delicious pastries at Mouratos Bakery
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Mouratos Bakery

A short drive southwest of Sarakiniko is the best bakery on Milos. Mouratos - Art of Bakery, located in Katifora, sells freshly baked pastries, cookies, watermelon pies, cheese tarts (pitarakia), sesame bread sticks and baklava, as well as ice cream and hot and cold drinks. It's difficult to make a selection, but the friendly staff help by answering any questions.

You can eat at tables inside or outside, overlooking Adamas port and the Gulf of Milos. Mouratos offers free wi-fi and washrooms, so it's a great place to stop mid-way through a Milos tour.

Bougainvillea and blue doors decorate Plaka buildings
Bougainvillea and blue doors decorate Plaka buildings
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Plaka village

Our driving tour continued northwest to the picturesque village of Plaka, the capital of Milos. The stone streets are too narrow for cars, so walking is the best way to view the picturesque buildings spread out below a hilltop Venetian castle that dates from the 13th century.

Pink bougainvillea, potted plants, blue doors, shutters, railings and stairways decorate the whitewashed buildings. Laundry dries from clotheslines strung across the streets.

Venus de Milo information sign near discovery site
Venus de Milo information sign near discovery site
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Venus de Milo statue

Just south of Plaka, in Trypiti, we were surprised to find the site where the famous fourth century BC Venus de Milo was discovered in 1820 by a farmer digging in his field near the ancient city of Melos.

The Louvre in Paris currently houses this statue of Aphrodite. Melos Archaeological Museum displays a plaster copy of the marble sculpture.

"In 1962, Jacques Cousteau came here to film a documentary about his underwater search for the missing arms of the Venus de Milo," said Gladwyn. "He couldn't find them."

Roman theater

Nearby, is a beautiful second century BC marble Roman theater. It has free admission, so you can easily explore it and try out the acoustics.

As we looked down at the amphitheater, the white buildings of Klima and the boats bobbing in the Aegean Sea below it, Gladwyn described the ancient performances. "They were the reality shows of the era. Only men acted. The audience chewed garlic, which was the popcorn of the day, and followed it with mint."

2nd century BC Roman Theater
2nd century BC Roman Theater
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The theater seats 700 people in curved rows above the orchestra pit. It is now used for cultural events, including the annual July Milos Festival.

"In ancient times, 20,000 people lived on the island," said Gladwyn. "Today the population of Milos is only 5,000, but it swells to 15,000 in summer with visitors who come to enjoy its many attractions."

We resolved to return to Milos to explore more of its 125 kilometers of coastline, its pretty villages and the neighboring island of Kimolos, accessible by ferry from Pollonia.


For a free cruise brochure and more shore excursion information visit www.celestyalcruises.com or call 1-877-337-4665 toll free.

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