Lapped by the Aegean Sea, the sun-baked shores of the Greek islands of Kos have long been a destination for beach lovers. From white-sand beaches to hot thermal rock pools, the island has it all. What’s more, culture lovers needn’t move far from their beach towels. The Dodecanese Islands, over time ruled over by the Romans, Ottomans and Italians, are dotted with Medieval castles, Byzantine churches and sprawling ruins. Here is our rundown of the best beaches on Kos.
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Hear the waves tickle and shift the small stones that line the water at Agios Fokas, a pebble and sand beach located just 8km (5mi) south of Kos Town. The shale shore means the water at this diving hotspot remains super clear. Take a snorkel mask, and duck beneath the waves, or book a diving course from operators located on the beach. There’s also beach volleyball, tennis courts or beach pilates if simply relaxing on the sands gets too much.
The marble columns (some fallen, some still standing, and hot to the touch) stand out in the dimming sunlight at Agios Stefanos. Get your camera ready, as this is possibly one of the most photographed spots on the island. Combine a day at the beach with learning about local history; the grand columns and mosaic floors of a ruined 5th- and 6th-century basilica temple still remain on this rocky outcrop next to the beach. Feeling energetic? Swim to the islet, with its distinctive conical rocky peak and blue-roofed church.
Come to Limnionas for peace and quiet. This small fishing port on the northwestern side of the island has a stretch of sandy beach, dotted with sun loungers and parasols. Enjoy the clear blue waters, far from the crowds. But there’s another reason to visit. Walk beyond the dock, past the brightly painted traditional fishing boats, to the restaurant overlooking the bay, which serves freshly caught fish. Get here early before the catch of the day sells out.
No hotels, no sun loungers, no blaring beach bars and no crowds. Go it alone at Chryssi Akti, whose name means “golden shore”, where the only sound you’re likely to hear is the soft breaking of the waves. It’s located on the south coast in Kefalos Bay, a 45-minute drive from Kos Town. It’s mostly sandy with the occasional rock; the quietest stretch is found at the east end.
Order that piña colada, and make your way across the hot sands to dip your feet in the cooling Aegean Sea. One of the more lively spots on the island, Kardamena Beach is fronted by a street of bars, known for being a key nightlife spot. But, by day, this town on the southeast coast is all about the 3km (1.9mi) stretch of beach. Hire a pedalo, and cool off with the ocean breeze.
Want the amenities of a resort town but without the masses? Life in this small village centres around the sandy beach, with its rows of sunbeds and fronted by tavernas that serve fresh fish landed right at the harbour. If you want to up the tempo, windsurfing lessons are available. Alternatively, catch the frequent ferry to the mountainous island of Kalymnos, one of the climbing hotspots in the world.
Reputedly the most beautiful beach on the island, Cavo Paradiso is a natural wonder, surrounded by cliffs, dunes and little else. You’ll find a small cedar forest at one end of the shore, where beachgoers looking for a few days of solitude can camp out. Getting here is part of the adventure. It’s a 30-minute car ride from Kefalos, which is mostly easy-going, but the final stretch involves a dirt road and can be a bit of a scramble.
Warm water bubbles from a crack in the rock at the far end of Agios Fokas. Look for the hand-painted Therma sign as you make your way across the pebbled beach. Although, you’ll likely spot the cluster of people basking in its 30-50C (86-122F) waters before you see the rock pool itself. Separated from the open sea by a row of rocks, the hot spring continuously fills this spacious natural pool, making it the perfect place to bask after a dip in the much cooler ocean. Entry is free.
If you’re visiting the beaches on Kos, you might as well book a stay at a local hotel with Culture Trip. Don’t forget to visit some of the top restaurants on the island or some local attractions to pass the time. Over in Athens, there’s a range of great boutique hotels to choose from as well as a few beaches nearby.
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