The number of visitors to Mykonos skyrockets in the summer months. // © 2012 thinkstock
In Mykonos, sunset is just the eye of the hurricane — the calm between rowdy daytime beach parties and the raging nightlife that lasts until the wee hours of the morning. As the sun cast a pink hue on the surrounding stark-white houses, I sipped a cool cucumber cocktail on the patio of Jackie O’s, a self-proclaimed “gay-and-straight-friendly” bar located along the water’s edge in Mykonos Town. This serene scene, with more sailboat masts than people in sight, was likely what the bar’s namesake, Jackie Onassis, fell in love with when she made this Greek island one of her most frequented vacation spots.
Today, Mykonos is a mecca for the beautiful, young and wealthy. In peak season, the island hosts nearly 50,000 visitors, dwarfing the local population of approximately 10,000.
Mykonos’ nightlife is a marathon that starts at midnight and runs through brunch, so taking a long evening nap is a common practice. At 11:30 p.m., my friends and I emerged from our lovely hotel — Adonis Hotel in Mykonos Town — to find that we were still among the early dinner crowd. Even in my flat sandals, I tripped over the irregular cobblestones of the narrow, pedestrian-only streets. Dozens of beautiful women, dressed to kill in five-inch stilettos, strutted by with various degrees of success. Bright street lights ricocheted off the white-walled buildings, creating an illusion of daytime below the rooftops. Many luxury boutiques were still open and bustling, and bars posted signs advertising free drinks until 1 a.m. in an attempt to lure “early bird” partiers.
We started the evening with a late-night snack and some people-watching at Jimmy’s, a hole-in-the-wall eatery which serves souvlaki (skewered, roasted meats and veggies). Jimmy’s is extremely popular among tourists and locals because it is located on a prominent corner of the main drag.
Next, we caught a crowded bus to Cavo Paradiso, one of the largest, most popular clubs on the island, located at Paradise Beach. During the day, Paradise Beach is a luxurious resort with lounge chairs and thatched umbrellas along the turquoise sea. At night, the resort opens Cavo Paradiso, its multi-leveled, indoor/outdoor dance club. World-famous DJs, such as Kaskade and Sander Kleinenberg, spin hits as colorful lights bounce off the ceiling, pool and crowds of beautiful, dancing people.
When I’d finished my last ouzo (an anise-flavored Greek spirit) and decided to leave, it was 4:30 a.m. — an embarrassingly early night by Mykonos’ standards.