It’s an increasingly smaller world, with many of us looking for that next great off-the-beaten track destination to unwind, or if you are an Olympic athlete, to get an adrenaline rush. Such was the case this summer for one of our favorite gay athletes, Gus Kenworthy, who gave us some thirsty photos on his Instagram account of his vacation in the Greek islands of Milos and Sifnos.
It was just my luck that Gus was in Milos right after my husband and I spent a glorious week there in August. Milos, one of the Cyclade islands in the Mediterranean of which Mykonos is the most famous, is a dormant volcano with some of the most fascinating beaches to visit anywhere in the world. Perhaps the most famous is the otherworldly Sarakiniko on the north face of the island. With its pale white bleached lava formation, Sarakiniko is a popular destination for both adventurers (click on Gus’ post above to see what I mean) as well as photographers (when we were there, a fashion shoot was in progress with a drone flying overhead).
Unlike its more dynamic neighbors of Mykonos and Santorini, Milos is a quiet getaway that isn’t easy to get to. With small flights only via a connection from Athens, most tourists arrive via one of the several ferries into the port town of Adamantas. With its seaside promenade of restaurants and cafes, Adamantas is also where one can rent a car (if you possess an international drivers license, available from AAA for a small fee), or if you prefer not dealing with the hassle of driving and finding parking there is a great public bus with service to all of the major beaches which we used our entire time on the island.
The beauty of the island is found on its beaches, with my favorite being Feriplaka on the south end of the island. Here the beach is sandy and the calm waters of the sea crystal clear (and warm, thanks in part to the shallowness of the descent from the beach, but also the heat from the long dormant volcano miles below the surface). At Feriplaka the cliff walls are various shades of ochre, burnt orange, magenta, and even blue from the mineral deposits embedded in the soil, and avid beachcombers such as Gus can find tiny stones as souvenirs in a variety of these colors.
After a long day of swimming, tanning, swimming some more, and napping under your beach parasol, there are few things better than getting cleaned up for cocktails while watching the sunset. While much more subdued than other islands renowned for their party life, Milos does offer a handful of cocktail bars throughout the island, with the greatest concentration on the hill overlooking the harbor of Adamantas. Our favorite is the tiny but ridiculously charming “Mikro bar” where the owner has set up a telescope on his hilltop perch to stargaze.
When ordering your cocktail, consider getting one with my new favorite spirit: Mastixa. It’s a slightly caramelized liquor — think of an Amaretto, but with a bit of cinnamon taste to it. It became my go-to drink, and Mikro bar makes a fantastic sour version of it. Other bars in the area include the more vibrant Akri rooftop bar next door and the clubby neighbors.
An alternative to Adamantas for stunning sunsets is the secluded former fisherman’s village of Klima. This tiny enclave is at the foot of the towering hills where the main town of Plaka overlooks the island, and is a short distance from where the world famous Venus of Milo was discovered almost two centuries ago (and which now resides in Paris’ Louvre museum). Klima is a picturesque spot of now designer bungalows where once grizzled fishermen stored their boats and mended their nets. Pick your spot and order some Prosecco (or Mastixa, as I did) and enjoy another glorious Mediterranean sunset.
Greek island life comes alive after the sunset, and men and women both dress to impress when they walk in the villages looking for a restaurant. We loved pretty much everyplace we went to on Milos, with most of them offering freshly caught seafood, as well as traditional greek cuisine. Don’t forget to try out the vibrant dinner scene centered around the main square and church of Plaka.
After a calm week at Milos we boarded the ferry for a final few days on Mykonos, the hedonistic cousin to the tranquil, beautiful Milos. The reputation as a gay mecca is still justified, with what seemed like half of the tens of thousands of tourists being gay men of all shapes, colors, sizes, and ages. It was truly a shocking contrast to the more subdued (but still very gay friendly) Milos. While in years past there were a larger number of gay bars, clubs, and venues to choose from (one of my favorite locales, the piano bar Montparnasse in Little Venice is no longer there), there are still a handful to chose from for your gay nightlife experience.
This year marks the last year for the Elysium as a gay resort. Its mythic sunset drag shows were a source of bemusement for decades, but the hotel has been sold to Egyptian investors and will be transformed into a boutique resort catering to a different clientele. Not to worry, there are still plenty of hotels to choose from, as well as Air BnB villas and houses scattered across the island. We always stay at the same place, the lovely Hotel Nazos across the street from the Elysium, where the family that owns the hotel look after our every need, including incomparable sunset drinks from our room’s patio.
Most gay visitors to the island flock to either Elia or Super Paradise beaches, both of which are among our favorites as well, but there are still smaller surprises to discover. For a genuine beach greek taverna experience, with perhaps the best sunset and dinner to find on Mykonos, I recommend Joanna’s Nikos Taverna at Megali Apo beach just a short walk from the iconic windmills at Little Venice. Make sure you call a couple of days in advance for a reservation, and save a glass of Mastixa for me.
“This post is solely the opinion of this contributing writer and may not reflect the opinion of other writers, staff, or owners of Instinct Magazine.”