Kos: Isle of lettuce and medicine

After our short overnight ferry from Santorini to Kos, we didn’t really know what to expect. We left our Greek Islands guidebook at home, and Kos wasn’t ever part of the original plan of sailing through the Greek Isles, anyhow. We had no idea what would be here, no idea what there would be to do, and no idea about the lay of the land. Basically what I knew when I booked us through Kos was that we had to get the ferry from Santorini to Kos in order to be able to get to Rhodes and onto Turkey…and that Hippocrates lived here about a million years ago, and that it’s apparently famous for its lettuce. The good news is, Kos is well known among holidaymakers in the UK and Germany, and had plenty of facilities. We rented a hot little Fiat Panda and hit the roads of Kos for the next three days in search of the perfect beach, and I think we found it.

Therma Beach, Kos Island

Welcome to Therma Beach.

Kos, crystal clear water

The water in Kos was crystal clear.

Therma Beach, Kos

Therma Beach. You can see the heated pool at the far end of the beach, as it’s got way more people in it.

First stop: Therma Beach – Nature’s hot tub

Our first stop once we had the car was Therma Beach. As the name implies, the water here has a thermal quality thanks to the volcanic activity under the island. Unfortunately, the amount of water actually warmed by the activity is kinda small, and you find yourself packed in with a ton of other people a bit like sardines at the outset of the tanning process. It was nice to soak in the heat for a bit, then hit the cooler water on the other side of the break to cool off, but we didn’t stay too long. We heard the best beaches were at the other end of the island.

We hopped in our Panda and drove to Paradise Beach, all the way on the other end of Kos. The water here was a bit warmer, the beach was sandy from shore to a swimmable depth, and there weren’t that many people around. After much thought, I’m pretty sure this was the best beach we found on the trip. Well, possibly. We completely planned to come back here for our last day in Kos, but the weather didn’t cooperate. High winds came in and made the beach a not-so-wonderful place to be, so we drove up into the mountains of Kos instead.

Kos mountains

Carolyn posing in front of some sort of ancient stone castle-like building at the top of the mountain on a windy, windy day.

High up in the mountains we pulled off to see a church, and followed this path just a bit farther. What we saw at the top of the mountain was pretty amazing. There were ruins of old stone walls, probably from some sort of medieval fortress built to repel the invading Turks. The landscape in the mountains was straight out of Clash of the Titans too, a sort of spartan, hard-scrabble landscape where the only trees were tough little shrubs, the soil was rocky, and the whole place looked ready to change shapes in an earthquake.

Kos Town, Carolyn

Carolyn posing in Kos Town.

Old Mosque in Kos

An old mosque turned souvenir shop and restaurant complex in Kos’ Old Town.

Kos old town ruins

Ruins in the old town of Kos.

Once we returned our rental car and headed back to Kos Town on our last evening, we got dressed and headed out to find some food in the town. We wanted to stay out a little and have some drinks, but an early morning ferry had us concerned about missing our ride over to Rhodes. The old town of Kos is pretty cool though, with old mosques, arches, and some of the most impressive displays of flowers you could imagine.

Blue Star Ferries

Our last Blue Star Ferries trip was from Kos to Rhodes, and we enjoyed three hours of smooth sailing and cheap coffee as we sailed across the blue Mediterranean.

The next morning we woke up bright and early, packed up our bags, and hiked about half a mile down to the ferry port. We were pros at this by now. When the tailgate on our Blue Star Ferries ship dropped, we hustled aboard, getting a nice table and chairs right next to the window, ordered a couple of cups of coffee, then a couple more, and then another, and watched as Kos disappeared and Rhodes came into sight. Kos was a beautiful, beautiful place to visit, but what would we find in Rhodes? Would it be a COLOSSAL good time? (see what I did there?)



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