Kos has 290 kilometres of coastline and its best sandy stretches tend to be chock-a-block with sun shades and package holidaymakers in high season. If you head for the main resort areas you'll find every tourist facility and water sport imaginable. But it's still possible to find tranquil spots far from the madding crowds. Search hard enough and you can still stumble across almost deserted beaches where you can swim and sunbathe in peace or relax over a leisurely lunch in a fresh fish tavern by the sea.
The nearest decent beach is three kilometres north west along the coast at Lambi which tends to get a bit crowded in July and August.
Another four kilometres west along the coast there's beautiful and unspoilt Selveri Beach where the sand shelves gently into the shallow water. The beach affords panoramic views of the Turkish coast and is blissfully quiet compared with the busy seaside resorts further west.
TINGAKI AND MARMARI BEACHES
The two most popular resorts on the north coast are Tingaki and Marmari, separated by the Aliki Salt Lake which attracts hundreds of migratory birds between January and April. Both resorts have good beaches and are highly developed to meet the needs of package holidaymakers. The water here in summer is warmer than the sea off the south coast of the island and strong winds make this stretch of coastline popular with windsurfers
Mastahari, west of Marmari, is far less developed and appeals to the independent traveller rather than package holiday tourists. It's far more "Greek" than its neighbours to the east and has a small port with excursion boats to Kalymnos and the small island of Pserimos
The most frantic seaside resort on the island is Kardamena, 30 kilometres south west of Kos Town. The place is awash with shops, bars, hotels, travel agencies and of course hordes of holidaymakers. All kinds of water sports and leisure facilities are available here and you can take a boat over to the volcanic island of Nisyros (where the floor of the main crater is hot enough to melt rubber-soled shoes!).
Further south west along the coast you reach beautiful Kefalos Bay which has the most scenic and secluded beaches on the island. A series of six magnificent beaches form an almost uninterrupted stretch of fine white sand at the base of the cliffs. The beaches have all acquired new names designed to appeal to international tourists - Exotic Beach , Magic Beach , Sunny Beach , Banana Beach , Paradise Beach and Camel Beach.
AGIOS STEFANOS BEACH
At the western end of the bay there's Agios Stefanos which is dominated by a huge Club Med complex but even if you're not a guest there this beach is well worth a visit. The small peninsula is topped by the well-preserved remains of two 6th century basilicas and you can swim out to the islet of Kastri which has a tiny blue and white chapel. The snorkelling around the rocks here is the best to be found around the island's coastline.