Skip Santorini. It has nothing on this beautiful (and much cheaper) Greek island

Skip Santorini. It has nothing on this beautiful (and much cheaper) Greek island
The fishing village of Klima is quaint and colorful.
Skip Santorini. It has nothing on this beautiful (and much cheaper) Greek island

The small Mandrakia village on the Greek island of Milos.

Skip Santorini. It has nothing on this beautiful (and much cheaper) Greek island
A view of Klima, a fishing village, from the water.
Skip Santorini. It has nothing on this beautiful (and much cheaper) Greek island
Beachgoers sunbathe on the bright white rocks at Sarakiniko beach.

The small Mandrakia village on the Greek island of Milos.

Dramatic cliffs, blue-domed churches and insane sunsets land Santorini on pretty much every traveler's bucket list. I was there earlier this month and I'll admit, it's a beautiful island.

But I found every other Greek island I visited to be far more enjoyable.

Here's the thing: Everyone and their mother wants to see Santorini. And in my opinion, it's far too crowded, even in the shoulder season, when I visited. Cruises dock at port overnight and by 9 a.m. thousands of day trippers flood the town of Fira, armed with selfie sticks and strollers (which don't fare well on the tiny steps and narrow walkways, by the way). By the time the sun is starting to set over the Aegean, everyone on the island crowds into the tiny village of Oia, clamoring for the perfect Instagram shot.

I don't think crowded places are inherently unenjoyable. But not-crowded places are inherently more enjoyable.

A few days later I found myself on another Greek Cycladic island not too far away: Milos. It was the opposite of Santorini in all the best ways, and still had everything I wanted from a Greek island vacation. (Yes, there were still plenty of whitewashed homes with blue shutters.)

Below are just a few of the things I loved about Milos. Check out the gallery for some photos that just might convince you to book the flight ASAP.

White sandy beaches, a beach heated by geothermal hot springs, a beach only accessible by ladder — Milos has 'em all. Rent a scooter, car or ATV (like we did) and find your favorite. My personal favorites include the aforementioned Paleochori Beach on the south side of the island where you can find hot spots of warm water in the sea, heated by small geothermal springs.

Sarakiniko Beach is also unlike anything I've seen before. The bright white volcanic rock formations make you feel like you're on the moon and the water looks even bluer juxtaposed beside them.

Make sure you ask your hotel concierge or another local which beach is best based on the day's wind conditions so you can find a relaxing and safe spot to swim.

Pretty much the entire Western half of the island is off limits to rental vehicles because of rough roads (and snakes), so the best way to appreciate the beauty of the entire island is by boat.

Almost every tour stops at the Kleftiko Caves, where you can jump into the turquoise water and swim between towering white rocks. They'll also take you to other swim spots and pristine beaches that you wouldn't otherwise see.

For a quieter adventure, I went with a tour that capped the number of people on board to 20 (some companies take upwards of 40 people at a time). You should book the date of your boat trip based on wind conditions, if your schedule has some flexibility. Ask the company what day they expect to be best.

Alright you get it, the island's natural rock formations and beaches are stunning. But Milos also boasts a cute town with the blue-shuttered buildings and winding walkways you imagine of a quaint village in the Cyclades. Hike up to Plaka Castle for the best view of sunset, then walk back down into town for drinks and dinner on an outdoor terrace.

No cars or motorbikes are allowed inside Plaka, but there are large free parking lots on the outskirts of town.

After a day of exploring beaches and caves, you'll have worked up an appetite. Lucky for you there's lots of amazing food to be found on Milos, especially when it comes to seafood. We loved Avli in Plaka, where the pasta with prawns for two was more like a serving size for a family of six. O! Hamos is a foodie paradise, but go early to put your name in because the word has definitely gotten out.

I found TripAdvisor and travel blogs to be a pretty reliable starting point for finding restaurants, but asking around works even better.

And if you're even a casual drinker, order wine with dinner. The house white will do for all but the sommelier types and it'll make you feel European to slowly enjoy it in the bustling plaza.

Accommodations on Milos are substantially cheaper than you'd find in Santorini. Our hotel room was about 100 euro ($110) per night and it had a balcony with an sea view. I'd guess that price would be at least double in the more popular parts of Santorini. There are also plenty of cheaper hostel and hotel options, note that prices often vary from low to high season.

Beach chairs at organized beaches cost around 15 euro ($16.5) for a pair (with an umbrella) versus 50 euro each at popular Mykonos spots.

Food and drink prices were also 15 to 20 percent cheaper in Milos than in Mykonos and Santorini, in my experience.

It's always the people you meet on your travels that make the biggest impression, and the people in Milos were insanely nice. We had so much fun with the crew on our boat tour (Drougas Sailing), we went out to dinner and drinks with them afterwards. I considered our hotel price a splurge, but the warmth and hospitality of the family who owned it made our stay so memorable. (It was Psaravolada Resort on the island's south side, if you're wondering.)

They made it known I'd always be welcome on my next trip to Milos. And believe me, I'll be back.