Undulating white rock curving around a turquoise sea, Milos’ Sarakiniko Beach is a must for anyone visiting the island. Delve into the mysteries of the “Moon Beach” and what you need to know for your trip.
Marble smooth coastal cliffs with moon-like craters and sweeping natural bridges arching over sparkling cerulean waters are the first things most people notice when visiting Sarakiniko Beach – and for good reason. The white volcanic rocks look less like the Aegean Sea and more like something you’d see in outer space.
But it’s not just good looks with this popular stretch of coastline in Milos. The swimming and diving spots are some of the best on the island. You can also learn a thing or two about geology here (keep reading).
Ready to take a trip to one of my favourite beaches in Greece? Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about Sarakiniko’s landscape, history, and folklore. Let’s go.
Ok, so the #1 priority when visiting Milos is to flop and drop on one of the many (90+) beaches on the island. But Sarakiniko is in a class of its own. I mean it.
So, what makes it a must-visit on your trip to Milos? For starters, it’s just really flipping cool to look at.
Imagine volcanic formations that look like moon rocks scattered about the entrance. Then, you head down a sweeping, stark white hillside straight into the bluest waters you’ve ever seen. Yep, that’s Sarakiniko.
You won’t find sand here, per se, and the actual stretch of shallow coastline is actually lined with finely ground pumice. Instead, you’ll find high-rising cliffs with insane features that look like something out of The Mandalorian.
This Isn’t Just Any Old Beach
Sarakiniko isn’t like a lot of the beaches you’ll find in Milos, or anywhere in Greece for that matter. But that’s what makes it special.
Because of its unique geology (more on that later in this guide), the volcanic rocks have tiered platforms and natural bridges that make up the “beach” area. They provide a phenomenal background for photos and offer dozens of semi-private platforms where you can lay out a beach towel or jump off into the water.
The otherworldly Sarakiniko Beach offers cliff diving for nearly any skill level, so give it a try if you fancy an adventure.
Simply put, it’s as inviting as any beach I’ve found in Europe. As such, it’s one of the most popular locations on the island, so be sure to arrive early and watch out for other divers.
PS. Bring water shoes if you have them. The ground is rougher than it looks.
The Meltemi winds in the summer months can cause extremely rough swimming conditions if you’re not in a protected cove.
What You’ll See
When you walk from the parking lot up to Sarakiniko, you’ll see lots of areas to sit out on the white volcanic rocks, which is essentially the “beach.”
But there’s also a small, narrow cove protected on both sides. This makes it an ideal place to swim if you’re lucky enough to claim a spot on the tiny shores.
While the western side of Sarakiniko has the best swimming and diving spots, the east has some surprises of its own.
Take a short walk from the parking lot, and you’ll find a unique collection of geographic formations and a desert-like landscape worth taking a short hike (before or after your swim) to see.
One thing you won’t see? Plants. There isn’t a single shrub, tree, or cactus to speak of. I’ve been to some pretty dry deserts, and even Atacama has more greenery than Sarakiniko. But that’s also what makes it so photogenic.
The powder-white hillsides twist, turn, and gradually step their way down into a cove and the wide-open Aegean Sea, giving you some of the most spectacular contrast you’ll find anywhere. I mean it.
No trees means no shade, so bring a reliable hat, coverup, and sunscreen.
Sunrises and Sunsets
Sarakiniko is located at the very top of Milos, meaning you can catch amazing sunset and sunrise views. It’s tough to say which is better because each offers a unique perspective that lights up with various shades of pink, white, and blue.
I’d personally opt for the sunrise because it sounds like an amazing way to start your day, watching the sun work its magic on the snow-white bluffs and crystal blue waters before the afternoon crowds show up.
What to Do at Sarakiniko?
We already know that swimming and cliff jumping are two popular things to do at Sarakiniko Beach. But snorkelling is also a fun activity that you’ll want to add to your bucket list of adventures.
You can see a long way down in Sarakiniko, which makes for some fabulous snorkelling. You can’t rent any near the beach (and I sadly left mine at home), but I heard that the views of the underwater rock formations were epic.
Naturally, any landscape that plays with colour, shapes, and lighting the way that Sarakiniko does is bound to have some great photo ops. Bring your camera and, better yet, your drone.
Arrive early to catch the sunrise or sunset from above for the best photos.
Unless you have friends on the island, you’ll likely need to hire a guided tour to sail around Sarakiniko (more on that below), but it’s well worth the money for the unique perspectives looking in from the sea.
If you can go with a smaller group, I’d recommend it. I sailed around the island on a family-run catamaran, but I’ve heard some of the boat trips are for up to 25 people, which can get a bit crowded.
Geology & History
Sarakiniko might look like it’s from another universe, but its origins are very much rooted in terrestrial events.
The volcanic activity that caused Sarakiniko was rhyolitic volcanism – which is a highly volatile process with multiple explosions. The gas bubbles that form after the explosions settle down and cool off make up most of the terrain (called pumice).
Because pumice is less dense than other rocks, it’s a perfect candidate for erosion. Pair that with high winds and a coastal location prone to gnarly waves during storms, and you can see why the cliffs have the smooth, lunar qualities they have.
Pumice makes up almost all of Sarakiniko’s geology, but there’s a couple of other things to look out for.
When you visit the beach, another one of the dominant geological features is tuff. The chalky white rock is composed of volcanic ash and helps give the sweeping coastline its trademark colour.
Want to know more about the island’s geology, I recommend chatting with an expert at Milos Mining Museum before hitting up Sarakiniko. You should also do one of the cool, self-guided hikes they put together here.
How Sarakiniko Was Formed
To really understand Sarakniko and its extraterrestrial landscape, we need to take a deep dive into the area’s history.
Located on the island’s north side, it’s no surprise after spending a few days in Milos to learn just how exactly it formed. It’s hella windy on this part of the island, so you can see why the “beach” is smooth as silk.
But there’s more than meets the eye. Look closely, and you can see layer after layer of rocks, which wind and waves have helped shape over the years.
Sarakiniko formed long before tides and Meltemi winds redesigned it. Millions of years ago, the African Plate shifted and moved beneath the European Plate, which led to what we now know as the South Aegean Volcanic Arc.
If it’s been a minute since you studied geology, I got you covered.
Basically, a whole bunch of volcanoes occurred over a long period of time, which covered the land with molten lava. When this cooled down, it left the white, volcanic rock we see now.
Pretty cool, right?
It Was An Old Pirate Hangout
It wouldn’t be Milos if there wasn’t some folklore to go along with one of the most scenic places on the island, right?
Well, if you’ve spent any time in the Cyclades, you know that pirates are a huge part of its history. Of course, Sarakiniko Beach, Milos, is no exception.
Many people attribute the name to Saracen pirates (privateers from Arab countries) who were believed to have used the protected coves as a hideaway during mediaeval times. But more recently, even Barbary pirates were thought to have used the same strategic landscape to camp out between voyages just a few hundred years ago.
Never hesitate to ask friendly locals about the island’s rich folklore. You may discover some tales of your own.
Top Tips for Planning Your Visit to Sarakiniko
- Milos gets very hot in the summer. Be sure to bring plenty of water before you go.
- There aren’t any restaurants or bars on this “beach,” so bring lunch or a snack. Though you may luck out and find a food truck in the parking lot on busier days, it’s better not to count on it.
- Try to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon because there will be crowds – this is one of the most popular places in Milos. We went at 8.30 am and there were already quite a few people there, and it was a lot busier by the time we left at 10 am.
- Wind is a thing in Milos and can quickly turn a relaxing day at the beach into an unpleasant one. Check ahead to see how strong the gusts are before venturing out.
480 60, Greece. It’s located on the north side of the island, about 10-15 minutes drive from Adamantas.
Once you’re in Milos, you can hire a car in Adamas near the ferry and drive in around 15-20 minutes from most hotels. Alternatively, you can hire an ATV (which I didn’t do, but they did look fun!)
If you’re just taking a ferry in for the day, you can catch a bus from the town centre in Adamas, which only takes about 15 minutes to get to Sarakiniko.
Head to the west side of the parking lot to find the beach, which is where the diving platforms and swimming area are.
Read More Milos and Greece Guides
- The Best Things to do in Milos
- Where to Stay in Milos
- Explore Plaka, Milos’ Charming Capital
- The Best Restaurants in Milos
- Why Island Hopping in Greece is the Perfect Escape
- Greece Travel Guide
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