Kos: A secret agent's guide

Trail of the Unexpected

What is the correct collective noun for travel agents? An exaggeration? A platitude? A duplicity? The people of the Greek island of Kos will be waking up this morning with their own ideas. An agglomeration of British travel agents has descended on the fragment of land off the coast of Turkey for the annual Abta convention, which begins today. The agents should have the best information on what to expect; we had to rely on what they promised us when we took our break on the island this summer. The Priceright brochure gushed with the attractions of a holiday on Kos: the archaeological sites and pulsating night-life, golden shores and mountain villages. It promises "an attractive mix of sand and sights in the crystal clear waters of the Aegean", and it wasn't far wrong.

What is the correct collective noun for travel agents? An exaggeration? A platitude? A duplicity? The people of the Greek island of Kos will be waking up this morning with their own ideas. An agglomeration of British travel agents has descended on the fragment of land off the coast of Turkey for the annual Abta convention, which begins today. The agents should have the best information on what to expect; we had to rely on what they promised us when we took our break on the island this summer. The Priceright brochure gushed with the attractions of a holiday on Kos: the archaeological sites and pulsating night-life, golden shores and mountain villages. It promises "an attractive mix of sand and sights in the crystal clear waters of the Aegean", and it wasn't far wrong.

The hotel

The most unhelpful information was the brochure description of the hotel: "This large and friendly property [yes] is set on the beach [a stony strip, nearly half a mile away], in peaceful surroundings [the hotel next door plays a Dambusters' tune each morning and dance music each evening] in the Psalidi area of Kos Town [it's three miles down the coast]." We should have inferred the distance from the giveaway line in the brochure that suggested "take a taxi into Kos Town for a night out". In fact, the buses proved cheap and reliable. And the hotel pool was gorgeous.

The excursion

I was taken by the idea of the three-island boat trip with sponge-factory visit and the prospect of diving into the sea off the boat at a point along the way. Bad move. Every boat trip operator on Kos offers a similar itinerary. Some do it better. We were on a large ferry-boat with 250 other people. The sponge "factory" was in fact a small workshop and the whole party had to troop through the streets en masse to a small, family-run taverna for the lunch that was included. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant couldn't cope and this was the only bad meal we had during the whole holiday. Other tours go on much smaller wooden boats and barbecue fish on board, returning from the final island under sail. Better to look round before signing up for any trip.

The car

The same advice applies to car rental; the tour operator and holiday rep often have a "special arrangement" with a particular company and the amount you pay will be inflated by their commission. Car hire will almost certainly be cheaper elsewhere, but check the conditions include comprehensive insurance. Kos is a good place to drive around - it's only 40 miles from one end to the other and one day's car hire gives you a chance to visit both beach and mountains. Expect to pay £30 a day for a tiny car or £40 for a jeep. The roads are tolerable but the signposting is terrible. Also worth trying is cycle hire (£2 a day), much more sensible than renting a moped.

The beach

Swim at Paradise Beach and you find yourself looking through a gauzy birch forest, slim silvery trees waving gently against a blue sky. But the shining columns are actually trails of bubbles, released from fault lines under the sea bed. As you swim over the fissures, the bubbles pulse up your body; if you float on the surface there's the extra buoyancy of thousands of little capsules of volcanic gas. This is the beach described in the brochure as "nature's jacuzzi". It's not a bad description and this phenomenon is found to a lesser extent at other spots around the island's coast. You can make out the bubbles from above the surface, but it's much better to enjoy a clear view from beneath. As a bonus I also saw several spectacular pale-blue pipefish. Like aquatic chessmen, with their long snouts, these were among the most striking of dozens of fish we saw. If you need a break from snorkelling or bronzing, you can also try parascending (£16), water skiing (£12) or "banana boats"(£7). Paradise Beach lives up to its name.

The verdict

The family loved Kos: weather, water, restaurants and the islanders. Shopping was fun, money easy to obtain from cashpoints; we even went to Turkey for a day. It delivered what we wanted from a holiday, as promised. But we didn't have to share the place with 2,000 travel agents.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week