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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Greece > Kos beaches

About Kos beaches

The green, low-lying, fertile island of Kos, is one of the 12 Dodecanese islands in the southeast Aegean Sea. The ‘father of modern medicine’, Hippocrates (460-370BC) was born here, and is said to have taught his students under a plane tree, which can still be seen in Kos Town. Today, thanks to its sandy beaches, the island lives from mass tourism. The capital and main port, Kos Town, lies on the east end of the island. Filled with monuments dating back over 3,000 years, it has been occupied by the Romans, Ottoman Turks and Italians. There is a palm-lined seafront promenade, a large yachting marina, a cosmopolitan nightlife and good shopping. A short distance southeast of town, at Psalidi and Fokas, lie the island’s most upmarket hotels. Southwest of Kos Town, on the south coast, Kardamena is the island’s largest package resort. Once a peaceful fishing village with a long sand beach, since the early 1980s it has developed into a haven for British 18-30s, and is now crammed with English-style pubs and concrete apartment blocks. West of Kardamena, Kefalos is a peaceful, purpose-built resort overlooking a horseshoe bay with excellent beaches nearby. It grew up below the old village and its namesake, made up of whitewashed houses built into the hillside. On the north coast, the low-key resorts of Tingaki and Marmari are especially popular with windsurfers, while the salt marsh that separates them is a haven for migrating birds, including flamingos.

Beach:

Kos is blessed with lovely sand beaches. Some of the best lie near Kefalos, notably the fine pale-golden sands and shallow waters of Paradise Beach (also known as Bubble beach, due to volcanic gases that rise from the sea bed). In Kardamena, there are two long sandy beaches totalling 6km (4 miles), equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas plus good watersports facilities. Kos Town has a rather narrow ‘urban’ beach, but there are two well-equipped pebble beaches close by – Lambi, 4km (2.5 miles) to the north and Psalidi, 3km (2 miles) to the south. On the north coast, west of Kos Town, there are beaches at Tingaki (9km/6 miles) and at Marmari (13km/8 miles); these are more exposed to winds and are especially popular with windsurfers. At Tingaki, there is an area reserved for nudists.

Beyond the beach:

The island’s chief cultural attractions lie in the capital, Kos Town, and include Hippocrates’s plane tree, the 14th-century Castle of the Knights of St John overlooking the harbour, and two mosques from the Ottoman period. West of town, on a wooded hillside, lie the ruins of the fourth-century BC Asklepion, a religious sanctuary dedicated to the god of healing. Further west into the hills, the unspoilt rural village of Zia is renowned for its romantic sunsets, and locally produced honey, olive oil and dried herbs. Embros Thermes Beach, south of Kos Town, has a sea pool with natural hot springs (47°C/116°F) creating a Jacuzzi effect. Birdwatchers might spot migrating flamingos on the salt marsh just west of Tingaki.

Family fun:

Kos’s sandy beaches and shallow waters are perfect for kids, but if these begin to pall, visit the Lido Water Park (www.kos-waterpark.com) on the north coast near Mastihari, with a large wave pool, six giant slides and a lazy river, plus bars and a restaurant. Many of the big hotels catering for package tours offer early-evening kids’ clubs and babysitting services.

Exploring further:

Daily excursion boats take visitors the nearby islands of Pserimos (good sand and shingle beaches), Nisyros (a dramatic volcanic island) and Kalymnos (renowned for sponge diving). It is also possible to take a day-trip to Bodrum in Turkey. Boats depart from Kos Town, and visitors have plenty of time to explore Bodrum’s 15th-century portside Castle of St Peter, enjoy a hammam (Turkish bath) and shop in the bazaar.

Splashing out:

Treat yourself to a few hours pampering at the luxurious Elixir ThalassoSpa, offering hydrotherapy, massage, aromatherapy, shiatsu, seaweed and sea mud treatments, and sauna. It opened in 2002 and is one of Greece’s top spas. You’ll find it inside the 5-star Grecotel Kos Imperial Hotel (www.grecotel.gr), the island’s most luxurious hotel, overlooking Psalidi beach.