A journey around Mykonos’s most picturesque beaches
Greek photographer Chris Kontos takes us on a visual trip around the island, sharing his favourite untouched beaches and swimming spots
By Chris Kontos Thu, Jul 30, 2020
Mykonos has all the definitive elements that make Cyclades one of the top tourist destinations in the world: the frenetic nightlife, the famous restaurants and the day parties. But there is much more to the island than this. In its essence, Mykonos is a classic Greek island, with stunning architecture and one of the most beautiful choras (towns) in the Cyclades. It is also gifted with some of the most impressive beaches that you can find in the country.
A drive around the island will reward you with pastoral images that are a million miles away from the cliche portrayal of Mykonos in the media and tourist brochures. You’ll see farmhouses with fig trees, little churches with maroon roofs, flocks of sheep, traditional kafeneia (cafes), such as Bakogias in Paraportiani, and beaches tucked away from the crowds with uninterrupted views of the sea.
‘Agios Sostis remains pure – a reminder of what life can look like at its simplest and at its best’
Panormos and Agios SostisMy favourite beaches in Mykonos were always Panormos and Agios Sostis. I first went to these two neighbouring beaches back in 1998 while I was visiting with a friend who was a regular Mykonos-goer, and the drive there has been carved in my memory ever since. To get to them, you have to go by the dam that supplies the island with water and through scenery that is both breathtaking and surreal.
For years, both beaches had been saved from over-building and sunbeds, but recently Panormos has been transformed so much that it barely resembles its wild past. It’s still a special place, though, blessed with unspoiled surroundings that finally lead you to Agios Sostis, the most picturesque beach on the island.
Even when north winds are bashing the island, here it’s always calm and serene. Agios Sostis remains pure – a memory of what life can look like at its simplest and its best. Bare and raw with only the essentials: yellow limestone and the deep blue of the water. Above the beach, you’ll find Agios Sostis church. The austerity of the Doric architecture combined with the tranquil waters is an image that stays with you. It feels like an antidote to our fast-paced lives.
To top it off, Agios Sostis is also home to another Mykonian landmark: Kiki’s Tavern, where tourists and locals have been queuing for years to taste its homemade salads and grilled meat.
FokosJust on the other side of the water dam lies Fokos, a beach even wilder and barer than Agios Sostis. Hit ruthlessly by the northern winds, but safe from the hordes of tourists, it is a sanctuary for those who seek solitude. The long drive back, filled with rural scenes, reminds us of how Mykonos might have been without its glamorous, club-going alter ego.
Super ParadiseOn the southern side of the island is Super Paradise, one of the best beaches in Greece. Sadly, it is often overshadowed by its loud nightlife and packed beach bars. But take away the sunbeds and the music, and you are left with a nearly perfect Cycladic beach. Next to the once gay-friendly nudist beach Agrari, Super Paradise is one of Mykonos’s best and it would be a shame to let the bad hype deprive you of a visit.
Soho Roc House coveLast but not least, the little cove under Soho Roc House is another hidden gem for a quiet swim. It’s perfect for the hours just after sunset or sunrise, where the purple and blue hues of the sky blend in total harmony with the sea. It is a rare place for those who appreciate seclusion, and the granite rocks – formed by millions of years of wind and sea – are as impressive as the crystal-clear waters.
Mykonos is a diverse island with many faces, and it can surprise you in unimaginable ways if you take some time to go off the beaten track. It is the epitome of Greek summer – a place where present and past meet.