Located halfway between Kos and Rhodes, Tilos has only 780 residents on its 25 square miles (64.5 sq km). Its population used to swell in the summer months with hundreds of tourists who camped for free on the beaches. But when we arrived in June, Eristos Beach was bare.
It’s a beautiful little Greek island that straddles the Turkish and Greek portions of the Aegean Sea, curving in a reverse S shape like a lazy seahorse. However, despite its diminutive size and the presence of ancient ruins, Tilos has become the first island in the Mediterranean that will run entirely on the power of the wind and the sun.
We anchored our yacht offshore and motored the dinghy to the beach in search of dinner. We hadn’t walked very far when we came upon the charming hand-painted sign advertising the Eristos Beach Restaurant.
The restaurant was actually a resort, with balconied guest rooms and a beautiful swimming pool you crossed by an arched bridge. Lush bougainvillea climbed the arbors and shaded the dining pavilion, which was as empty as the beach. On our way to a table, we passed through the kitchen, which was manned by three little grandmothers—two Greek, one Italian—who asked us what we’d like for dinner.
“What do you have?” Mike asked. “Anything you like,” replied the designated spokesperson, the grandmother who spoke the best English. “You tell us what you like, and we’ll make you a feast.” Ben and Zack chose lamb, Mike requested garlic bread, I wanted salad, and captain Max ate half of everything we ordered.
We ordered drinks from the bartender, who turned out to be the owner and manager of the resort. As we sipped them and waited for our food, we marveled at how lovely and quiet this beautiful resort was on this tiny island in the middle of the Dodecanese.
Our food came, and it was everything the grandmothers promised. Tiny, hand-rolled lamb meatballs in a fresh tomato sauce, Greek village salad with chunks of feta as big as your thumb, and perfectly crispy garlic bread flecked with oregano.
As we left the Eristos Beach Restaurant, the grandmothers presented us with a bottle of freshly-pressed oil from olives grown on the island. It was a magical meal that felt it was from another era.
Darkness was falling, so we weren’t able to explore the rest of Tilos like we wanted. We wanted to see the Cave of Harkadio with its dwarf elephant bones and the church of Taxiarhis with its ancient crossed domes.
But Rhodes was waiting. We paused on the beach to skip stones into the sea before returning to the sailboat for one last slumber on the water, dreaming of ancient history and our future life abroad.