As probably my last words on Mykonos for the time being, I thought I’d share just a few tips on nice beaches and restaurants that are worth visiting if you find yourself on vacation on this famous party island.
I only was able to spend a weekend on Mykonos this time round, but because I was in the company of a party of other travel journalists on an organized press trip run by local travel experts, I probably was able to see a greater number of the better places on the island in a short time than I would if I had been left to rely on my own resources. I’m pretty sure the guide who accompanied us on the weekend trip had a very good idea of the best places to go on Mykonos and took us to several of them, so I think the tips you’ll find here have some validity.
First, here are two beaches I strongly recommend: Panormos and Kalo Livadi.
Panormos is situated halfway down the western side of a large bay on the northern edge of Mykonos ― indeed, the bay is the largest one on Mykonos ― and offers a broad sweep of orangey, coarse sand that slopes quite sharply into the bay. Although the beach does not have the deckchairs and loungers for rent that adorn several of Mykonos’ other popular beaches, it does provide a sweeping view of the other side of the landlocked bay and is pretty sheltered by high hills behind and to each side of the curve of the beach. Panormos may well be one of the largest beaches on Mykonos and it is certainly one of the most popular strands on the island.
One reason for that is the excellent beach taverna of the same name that one walks past to get on to the beach itself. The beach taverna is a terrific place to lunch. Our entire party dined on a freshly caught large, white-fleshed fish (I forget what species of sea fish it was), simply grilled and eaten with lashes of fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over the fish as well as a lemon-oil-and-olive-oil mixture common in Greece, which one drizzles over one’s meal to suit one’s taste. We also had masses of fantastic seafood and vegetable starters, as well as wonderful Greek salad, bread freshly baked in the taverna and ― I know you’ll find this hard to believe ― beer and Skinos Mastiha Spirit. We even drank some mineral water ― a very unusual thing for a party of hardened reporters to do.
My second tip if you’re looking for a beach on Mykonos is Kalo Livadi. Situated in a small bay about midway along the south side of the island, Kalo Livadi looks south to the fairly distant island of Naxos. Unlike Panormos, Kalo Livadi comes fully equipped with loungers and beach umbrellas ― which actually are made of thatch ― and you can rent these for the day. But note that you need to be an early bird to get the umbrellas and loungers closest to the water ― or you need to reserve them in advance (which perhaps is something that only tour groups are allowed to do).
One really nice thing about the beach at Kalo Livadi is that waitresses from the beach taverna across the road constantly patrol up and down the lines of loungers and will happily and quickly bring you your cold drink of choice. Also, the sand of the beach slopes very gently into the water and if you’re a poor swimmer you literally can wade out for 50 or 60 yards without any fear of getting out of your depth. (For experienced swimmers, the shallowness of the sea at Kalo Livadi actually can be a bit of a nuisance, because the sea is very salty and thus incredibly buoyant. Combined with the two-foot depth of the water 20 to 30 yards out, it means you can’t actually swim properly anywhere near the shore.)
The beach taverna at Kalo Livadi is called Sol y Mar (Sun and Sea) and is just as good as the one at Panormos beach. Again, fresh-caught, grilled fish is the specialty, and one can gorge on the wonderful salads and seafood and vegetable appetizers that the taverna offers. I particularly like a strong local grilled cheese dish and grilled tomatoes with cheese on top, and while I’m not generally a big fan of octopus and calamari, dishes of each that I sampled were both superb. In fact, the calamari may well have been the freshest, least-rubbery and best-tasting that I’ve ever had.
Now, if you’re looking for a nice restaurant in the evening, I can heartily recommend ‘Caprice’, also known as ‘Sea Satin’. It’s at the western end of the main town of Mykonos and sits just down the hill from the four windmills that together form perhaps the island’s most famous landmark. Again, the fish and seafood dishes are spectacular, but best of all I loved a big dessert plate of beignet-like doughnuts smothered in honey and ice cream. Yumm―meee! I could really have pigged out on those but luckily I had to share the plate with about six other people, so I couldn’t be quite as gluttonous as I would have wished.
When looking for evening dining options, as a change, consider going inland to the heart of the island, to the village of Ano Mera. The village’s main square is a nice plaza on to which several restaurants face and I can testify that you can find good food at them, as well as a much more relaxed atmosphere than in frantic Mykonos town.
Well, that’s about it for Mykonos. If you visit, make the most of the sightseeing and beachgoing opportunities ― and don’t neglect the nightlife, which is as busy as you’ll find in any beach resort in the world. Mykonos may not offer the most relaxing vacation you’ll ever have, but it may well provide one of the most memorable, fun ones!
By Chris Kjelgaard
This is one of four feature articles on Mykonos published by www.AirlinesAndDestinations.com in July 2009.