In the heart of the Cyclades, Mykonos has long been a magnet for action. The beaches on the island’s southwest coast are among the Mediterranean’s best wild-party scenes but head east and travellers will find something quite different. Here, the crowds slowly fade away, revealing what originally made the island famous: its arid beauty, with rocky, filigreed coastline and sandy coves.
1. Best for families
Park your vehicle in the dirt lot and stride over the low dunes to find the perfect little Fokos Bay, where deep, sheltered waters offer delightful swimming for all ages. Once you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, head on over to the renowned taverna overlooking the sand for a lazy seafood lunch.
2. Best for solitude
Stroll west around the headland to the next beach along — the gentle arc of Mersini beach, which is usually the least-crowded on Mykonos. Bring your own sun mat and even an umbrella as this beach is service-free: wild and raw, and perfectly matched to the nakedness of many of the sunbathers who make the pilgrimage out here.
3. Best for an easy outing
If getting your own wheels isn’t an option, Agari is only a 15-minute walk east of the more famous Elia Beach and on the south coast beach ferry route. It’s one of the closest uncrowded beaches to Hora, Mykonos’ main town, and home to a sole taverna that provides sunbeds and doles out drinks and snacks.
4. Best for active types
In the far southeast, about seven miles from Mykonos town, the broad crescent of Kalafati Beach is beloved for its steady winds that blow the sails of windsurfers and kite surfers — perfect if you’re looking for sporting action. Rent boards and get lessons right at the beach at Windsurfing Mykonos. windsurfing-mykonos.com
5. Best for quiet sunsets
Sunset is universally enjoyed on Mykonos, but most places that cater to sundowners — whether the club-filled strands of the southwest or the famed windmills in town — get mobbed as the sky turns pink. For some quiet, head to the undeveloped, west-facing Kapari Beach and bring your own drinks.
How to do it
Most of these laid-back beaches are off the shuttle circuits that ferry party-goers from hopping Hora town to the club-dotted southwest of the island — so you’ll need your own wheels, whether bike, scooter, or convertible. You can get taxis anywhere on the island, but the further you go, the more difficult it becomes to get a ride back.
(By Alexis Averbuck, published in the April 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller UK)