Mykonos Island, Greece
In a small series of islands in the Aegean Sea lies the tiny gem of Mykonos Island -- a dreamy destination for aspiring Greek gods and goddesses. Mykonos is a wonderful kaleidoscope of cosmopolitan shops, rocking bars, quaint windmills, homey taverns and hidden churches all set against a brilliant blue backdrop. And it's not just the water that sparkles in the sun on Mykonos, but also the white marble streets and buildings that characterize the island's architecture.
The beaches on the south shore of the island are the most popular with fine sand and water that is perfect for swimming. Ornos and Psarou beaches are the favorite among families, but Psarou is also ideal for water sports of all kinds, including windsurfing, water-skiing and diving. The quiet cove at Agrari beach is the place to relax. But it's the beaches at Paradise and Super Paradise that really get people talking. These two beaches are notorious for taking partying to another level, with parties and music that keep the crowds rocking from morning through night.
This is not the place to take the kids or unwind with a book - the partying is serious, and the dress code is as casual as it gets as nudity is permitted. Day and night, it's clear why Mykonos is touted as one of the most hedonistic islands around, with a wild atmosphere fit for Dionysus. Not quite your speed? Take a break from the beach and explore the capital town of Hora, wander the streets of Little Venice or check out one of the island's monasteries to take in some history. At night, start with a toast to the sunset in Little Venice and continue through the night at the dance clubs and bars tucked away in town or along Paradise Beach.
Nearest major international airport: International flights fly into Athens' airport, Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH). From here passengers can continue via plane or by ferry from Piraeus to Mykonos Island (about five hours).
Cars are not permitted in Mykonos Town, but most excursions can take place on foot. Most hotels offer shuttles to and from the airport, and taxis are available for local transport. For travel around town, caques (small passenger boats) or buses are available.
During summer (especially in August), most every inch of Mykonos Island is packed with visitors. To escape the crowds, visit during spring and fall. Divers can expect optimal conditions during the month of September, when water is typically 75 degrees F and visibility is 30 meters.
To best appreciate the exotic atmosphere of Mykonos, be sure to find a room with a balcony to take in the stunning views of the sea and sunset. Each year, more resorts pop up on Mykonos Island making this a great location for your island vacation. The extravagant Palladium Hotel (22890-25-925) at Platy Gialos offers rooms and suites with a view of the sea or the pool. Cavo Tagoo (22890-23-692) is just outside town, but the breathtaking views, seawater pool and architecture more than make up for that short walk to the center. The Petasos Beach Hotel (22890-23-437) is another great seaside option. Finally, young, budget-conscious visitors planning to party all night long often pile into the rooms and pitch tents at the Paradise Beach Resort and Camping (22890-22-852). Be warned, however, that the atmosphere is like that of a wild youth hostel with no-frills rooms and techno pumping through most of the night - which shouldn't be problem for those partyers who plan to dance until dawn ... Be sure to make reservations in advance if traveling during the busy summer months.
Grapes and olives are staples in the Greek diet and can be found in many forms on Mykonos Island, including exquisite olive oil, tasty kalamata olives and refreshing Santorini wines. Diners on Mykonos can take advantage of fresh produce, farmer's cheese, lamb dishes and a wide assortment of seafood, including the popular calamari. Edem (22890-23-355), found in Hora, serves Greek classics using lamb and fresh fish. An extra bonus is the restaurant's intimate poolside setting. Upscale La Maison de Catherine (22890-22169) offers a blend of French and Greek delights in Mykonos town, while La Taverne at the Hotel Cavo Tagoo (0289-23-692) serves Greek specialties and features a view of Mykonos Bay. Remember that many restaurants on the island close for siesta during the afternoon - call ahead or check the hours of operation.
Mykonos is one of the most crowded islands, so when planning a vacation to this busy island be sure to plan far in advance. Day trips or overnight trips to nearby islands may offer a nice break from bustling Mykonos. Get in touch with Greek history by exploring the archaeological wonders of tiny Delos Island, or sample the wine and cheese of Naxos Island and enjoy the slower pace of daily life in the Aegean Sea.
While You are There
One of the few islands on the Aegean Sea where diving is still permitted, Mykonos Island is an ideal vacation spot for seasoned divers as well as newcomers to the magic of underwater exploration. Mykonos Diving Centre at Psarou Beach (22890-24-808) offers five-day certification programs as well as diving trips for more experienced divers.
To Fake That You've Been There
Brag about your wild adventures at Paradise Beach, where the party rocks on until the wee hours of the morning.
Linking for a Better Vacation
For more information, visit the Greek National Tourist Organization at www.gnto.gr.