The bus headed first to Ornos, which we reached in only five minutes. A woman got off at the first bus stop, on the Korfos Bay side of Ornos, while two people got off at the beach (the bus stops in a parking area next to the beach, near La Vita e Bella and Ithaki restaurants). The bus continued on to Agios Ioannis, where the other passenger and I got off at the final stop on the line — a parking lot near the Agios Ioannis wharf — where the bus turns around for its return trip to Mykonos Town. The whole ride had taken only 10 minutes and cost just €1.60.
In May, there is only limited bus service to Ornos and Agios Ioannis beaches. Service is extended to later hours as summer approaches and more tourists arrive at the island.
Approaching Ornos on the bus from Mykonos Town. At right is Korfos beach. It’s a good spot for windsurfing but not swimming because prevailing winds and strong currents tend to swirl sea garbage toward the foot of Korfos Bay. No worries, though — good swimming areas are only a short walk away at Ornos beach (out of sight to the left) and at Agios Ioannis and Kapari beaches (on the other side of the hill).
A view of Ornos beach from my window on the bus. The bus stops at two or three places in the main Ornos area (including right at the beach) before proceeding to Agios Ioannis.
The Ornos beach bus stop is right next to Ithaki and La Vita e Bella restaurants
A view from the front window as the bus drives along the main road through Ornos. Agios Ioannis is on the other side of the hill we’re driving up.
I snapped this photo of Ornos beach as the bus drove up the hill on its way to Agios Ioannis. Ornos is renowned as one of the island’s top “family” beach areas
As the bus crosses over the crest of the hill and approaches Agios Ioannis, we get a glimpse of the Mykonos Grand Hotel luxury resort on our left.
You can’t see Agios Ioannis beach from the main road, but from the top of the hill you get treated to an amazing panoramic view of Delos and Rinia islands on the far side of the channel. Click on the image to view it in a larger format.
Another view from the same point on the hill, this time looking more to the right
There are several top-rated luxury hotels, numerous expensive private villas, and some moderately-priced hotels and studio rental accommodations at Agios Ioannis
Another view hotels and villas on the hillside above Agios Ioannis bay
Looking down the main road through Agios Ioannis.
The bus will stop here for passengers going to Agios Ioannis beach (down the road at left). At right is the entrance to the Panthea Residence studio accommodation (formerly known as Rochari Studios).
A view of Panthea Residence from the main road through Agios Ioannis. In May, Panthea has twin studios available from €80 per night. The rate rises to €130 in peak season (€200 for a studio that accommodates 4 persons).
Passing a driveway at the rear of Manoulas Beach Hotel, left
A little farther along the road en route to the bus turnaround stop …
… which is close to the wharf and the two red-domed churches at the west end of the bay
Short walk to Kapari: Once you get off the bus, it takes just a minute to walk to the point at the west end of Agios Ioannis, where a pair of picturesque red-domed churches stand just a stone’s throw from a small wharf that juts into the bay. From here, a dirt road winds along the rocky coast, dead-ending on a hillside above Kapari beach. To my right, as I walked along the road, was a steep hill dotted with the expensive stone and whitewashed buildings of the Parenthesis Private Villas.These exclusive luxury properties accommodate from 6 to 24 guests, and some boast their own private infinity pools. Sweet! They don’t come cheap, of course: In 2011, weekly rates ranged from €4,000 to €14,000 in low season, and €6,000 to €18,000. But if you’re dividing that between six or more people, the accommodations aren’t very expensive after all. As I gazed up at the villas, I daydreamed about how breathtaking the sunset views must be from their private pools and terraces on the hillsides. Off to my left, sailboats and excursion boats plied the waters in the channel that separates Mykonos from nearby Delos and Rinia islands.
After less than five minutes of walking, I reached the end of the road. The light brown sand of Kapari beach (which from some angles looks like white sand) lay a few meters below me, at the bottom of a short but steep hill strewn with shrubs, rocks and boulders. I didn’t see an easy path down the slope, so I gingerly worked my way down the hill, stepping from one rock to another and trying not to skid on the sandy sections in between — no easy task, but I made it without slipping. People with mobility issues probably wouldn’t be able to get down to the beach — or climb back up to the road.
Looking toward Agios Ioannis beach from the wharf at the west end of the bay
Side and rear view of the two red-domed churches at the west end of Agios Ioannis. At left is the road to Kaparai beach, less than a 5-minute walk away.
There’s a small courtyard in front of the entrances to the churches
The entrance gate for the Parenthesis Private Villas
One of the luxury Parenthesis villas on the hilltop
This photo, from the Parenthesis Private Villas website, shows an infinity pool and terrace for the Alishanea villa. The 2-level villa sleeps 8 to 10 guests.
This photo, also from the Parenthesis Private Villas website, shows the salt water infinity pool and view for the Kymothoe villa, which sleeps 8 to 10 guests
The Parenthesis private villas dot the hillside above the road to Kapari beach
Beautiful turquoise water at the mouth of Kapari Bay
A whitewashed villa perches on the rocky point at the mouth of Kapari Bay
Approaching the end of the road to Kapari beach
Looking across Kapari beach from the road at the top of the hill
The rocky coast on the far side of the beach is a popular spot for nudists. I saw men diving into the water from the rocks on the point near the upper middle part of the photo.
Looking out to sea from the soft light brown sands of Kapari beach. There is no taverna at the beach — and no rental umbrellas or lounge chairs, either.
The left side of the beach. The access road is at the top of the rocky hillside.
All-over tanning: Kapari beach was exceptionally quiet and peaceful, with no more than two dozen sunbathers and swimmers despite the great weather. Half of those people were spread out on the small sandy beach, while the rest were scattered along the rocky coast on the west side of Kapari Bay. Most of the people on the rocks were sunbathing in the nude, while a few on the beach were working on their all-over tans, too. I saw only a couple of people going into the water, and noticed that two fellows halfway down the right sight of the bay were diving into the sea from the rocky shoreline. I didn’t take a dip myself. Although the water at Kapari felt a little warmer to the touch than the sea at beaches on the Mykonos south coast, it was still too cold for me. (I’ve never been able to swim in the sea at Mykonos, and have been able to totally dunk myself in hotel swimming pools on the island only twice.)
There are no rental chairs or umbrellas at Kapari, so visitors have to sit on their towels or bamboo mats and must bring their own umbrellas if they want some shade. There’s also no taverna, so beachgoers also need bring their own snacks and drinks. Those were reasons why I didn’t stay at Kapari very long. I needed a break from the strong sun, and I also felt hungry and thirsty, so I headed back to Agios Ioannis to find a place to have lunch.
Along the way, I passed the Apollonia Resort, where someone had told me they had enjoyed staying, so I stopped in to take a brief look around. As I had been told, it’s a very attractive property, with comfortable outdoor sitting areas and a bar and restaurant terrace that offer excellent sea views. In May, deluxe sea-view rooms are available at rates starting from €150.
After checking out Apollonia Resort, I walked a hundred or so meters up the road to the Bellissimo Resort, where I took a table on the shaded section of the restaurant’s big open-air terrace. I chatted with Theo, one of the two brothers who manage the hotel and restaurant, while enjoying a crispy Greek salad and an ice cold drink for lunch. There were about eight other customers in the restaurant at the time, all of whom appeared to be staying at the resort. Everyone looked completely relaxed, and most conversations were about how much everyone was enjoying their holiday on Mykonos. I overheard some of the people talking about how quiet the island was compared to their previous holidays on Mykonos, so I wasn’t the only visitor who had noticed that the May tourist traffic had declined.
Approaching Agios Ioannis bay on the road from Kapari beach
Approaching the wharf at Agios Ioannis
A view from the wharf of the Hippie Fish restaurant (bottom left), Mykonos Grand Hotel (center) and the Saint John Mykonos resort (right)
A zoom view of Hippie Fish restaurant and the Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort
Driveway entrance to the Apollonia Resort in Agios Ioannis
One of the sea view terraces at the Apollonia Resort
Street view of the open-air restaurant terrace at Bellissimo Resort
The view from my table on the Bellissimo Resort restaurant terrace
Shirley Valentine beach: After my lunch break, I wandered over to Agios Ioannis beach, made famous in the “Shirley Valentine” movie from 1989. Just as I expected, it wasn’t very busy, with only about two dozen people on the entire beach. A few people were laying on towels near the right (west) end of the strand, while a few more sunbathers were relaxing on lounge chairs in front of the Hippie Fish restaurant, where about 20 customers were relaxing with drinks or lunch on the wide sea-view dining terrace. The other beachside restaurant and bar, Pyli (formerly Christo’s), wasn’t yet open for business — a team of carpenters was busy working on renovations to the building and its outdoor dining terrace. (I heard from another traveller that Pyli opened about a week later.)
It was much breezier at Agios Ioannis than it had been at Kapari, and the resulting waves kept churning sea grass and other nautical “dirt” in the first few meters of water off shore. Sea grass covered long sections of the sand, but the beach still looked inviting. I find that, with its scenic surroundings and especially its impressive views of Delos and Rinia, the entire Agios Ioannis bay area always looks appealing.
Looking toward the right (west) end of the main section of Agios Ioannis beach
Looking in the opposite direction, toward the Hippie Fish restaurant
Pyli restaurant was undergoing renovation, and wasn’t yet open for business
Hippie Fish restaurant — once a traditional taverna that played a starring role in the “Shirley Valentine” movie — still serves Myconian and Greek cuisine, but also has a sushi bar.
Sunbeds on the beach in front of Hippie Fish
Eastern beach strip: I walked past Hippie Fish to the left end of the beach, where a few people were laying on the private lounge chairs in front of the Mykonos Grand Hotel. The Grand is one of the island’s top-rated luxury resorts, and I have heard consistent and exceptional feedback about it for the past 7 years — both in person, and online — from dozens of travellers who have stayed there. I hope to get the chance someday to experience their acclaimed five-star service and facilities myself. I have stayed at the Grand’s sister hotel, the Petasos Beach Resort & Spa at Platis Gialos, which was very nice. Other travellers who have stayed at both properties told me that if I thought the Petasos was impressive, I would love the Grand even more.
The main Agios Ioannis beach ends just past the Grand’s sunbeds, where a rocky point about six meters high extends into the bay from the hillside next to the hotel. There’s more beach on the other side of the point — some narrow sandy areas directly below the Saint John Mykonos resort. The blue lounge chairs and umbrellas here are reserved for use by the Saint John’s guests, but other visitors are free to walk and sit elsewhere on the beach. When I was taking photos of the “Saint John beach” from the hill, I saw only two people on the entire strand — a middle-aged man whose back and chest were bright pink from a bad sunburn, and a woman (probably his wife). They had returned to the Saint John by the time I got down to where they had been standing on the beach. I spent some time in this quiet area, listening to the waves lapping against the sand and enjoying the views of the bay and the nearby islands. I couldn’t believe I had the entire section of beautiful beachfront all to myself.
I still wanted to visit Ornos, so I headed to the Agios Ioannis beach access road, passing Manoulas Beach Hotel as I walked up the steep hill to the main road. Like Hippie Fish, Manoulas gained international fame after it played a part in the “Shirley Valentine” movie. I didn’t see a soul on the entire hotel property, and wondered if Manoulas had even opened yet for the season. But several cars parked at the rear of the hotel suggested at least a few people (possibly just staff) were there.
These sunbeds on the beach in front of the Mykonos Grand are reserved for the exclusive use of hotel guests
View toward Delos and Rinia islands from a rocky point below the Mykonos Grand Hotel
Another section of Agios Ioannis beach below the Saint John Mykonos resort. It’s on the other side of a rocky point that juts into the sea below the Mykonos Grand Hotel. I took this photo from the top of the ridge between the two beach segments.
View toward Delos and Rinia from one of the narrow brown sand beach strips directly below the Saint John Mykonos resort
Another view from the beach below the Saint John Mykonos resort. I’ve been told that the resort offers specially-priced day passes that allow cruise ship travellers to use their swimming pools, sun decks, beach chairs and other facilities.
The beach chairs and umbrellas are reserved for Saint John Mykonos resort guests, but anyone can walk along the sand or sit here on their own towel if they choose
Views of the Agios Ioannis beaches from stairs below the Saint John Mykonos Resort
Manoulas Beach Hotel, on the hillside just a few meters above Agios Ioannis beach, had a starring role in the “Shirley Valentine” movie
Downhill walk: The walk to Ornos is fairly short, and is downhill the entire way. Even though I occasionally stopped to take photos en route, I reached Ornos beach less than 20 minutes after leaving Agios Ioannis. The road passes two red-domed churches, some pretty private homes, and the Leonis Summer Houses which looked like quite a nice spot to stay — especially since their hillside location overlooks Ornos beach, bay and village. There are great views of the entire Ornos area from the road as well, and you can even see clear across Korfos Bay to cruise ships docked at the Tourlos new port.
I turned off the main road onto the first side road that appeared to lead to the beach. It led me past some cute houses as well the backs of some hotels and studio rental accommodations, including the Filoxenia Apartments. When I reached the beach, I was surprised at how different it looked than when I had been there in May 2011. That time, there was only a handful of people on the entire beach, and most of the rental sunbeds and umbrellas had not yet been set up. Some of the beachside restaurants were still getting prepared to open for the summer, while those places that had already opened up didn’t have any customers. This time around, things were completely different. The beach was covered end-to-end with sunbeds, dozens of people (mainly families with young children) were playing on the sand and in the water, and all the tavernas were open, some doing a very brisk business. In sharp contrast to the prevailing peace and quiet at Agios Ioannis, Ornos beach had a very lively atmosphere, with the sounds of kids laughing and having fun and groups of adults carrying on animated conversations at the sunbeds and in the tavernas.
I walked all the way to the east end of the beach, to a wharf near the new Nostimon restaurant (right next door to Ithaki), where an enormous beachside bar terrace was still being set up. I considered hiking around the hill on the east side of Ornos bay, since I had not explored that part of Ornos before, but I could feel my sunscreen wearing off and thought it best to get out of the sun instead. So I walked to the parking area near Ithaki and boarded the bus that arrived only moments later. It would be driving to Agios Ioannis first, of course, but I had to get out of the sun and didn’t mind going for the longer ride. Fifteen minutes later, I was back in Mykonos Town, stepping off the bus at the Fabrica depot.
Approaching the Ornos area of Mykonos. Ornos beach isn’t yet visible from the road.
Above is a brief videoclip I shot from the road between Agios Ioannis and Ornos. It shows Korfos Bay as well as views of the main village area of Ornos.
Greek flags and other colourful pennants flutter in the breeze outside a red-domed church on the left side of the road
Ornos beach and bay come into full view
Looking across Korfos Bay, I could see two cruise ships at the New Port at Tourlos
The entrance to Leonis Summer Houses on the right side of the road
A pretty little church on the hill above Ornos beach and bay
Dovecoats on a building next to the road between Agios Ioannis and Ornos
Red geraniums brighten a white and blue terrace on a house near Ornos beach
Blue window shutters and doors accent the rear sides of a whitewashed hotel building
Looking across the sand to the hillside at the east end of Ornos beach
Lounge chairs and umbrellas on Ornos beach
Beach view toward the mouth of Ornos bay
Sunbeds on the beach in front of Kuzina restaurant
View toward the hill that separates the Ornos and Agios Ioannis beach areas
View from the east end of Ornos beach. At right is the beach bar terrace for Nostimon restaurant. The white building a little farther down is Ithaki & La Vita e Bella restaurants.
The bus to/from Mykonos Town stops at this beachside parking area next to to the entrance to La Vita e Bella and Ithaki restaurants
Arriving at Mykonos Town on the road from Ornos
Above is a video I shot through the front window of the bus I rode from Ornos to Mykonos Town. It shows the final 2 minutes of our ride, as we arrived at the Fabrica bus depot on the south side of town.
Coffee break: Craving caffeine, I walked directly to the Premier café and crêperie at 12 Mitropoleos Street near Little Venice, where I sat at a table in front of the shop and relaxed in the shade with my coffee. Normally, this would have been a perfect spot for people watching, since there’s usually a steady stream of tourists and locals on Mitropoleos Street. But this afternoon the street was almost empty, and only a few pedestrians passed by. When I walked around town after my coffee break, most streets were similarly quiet — including the harbourside promenade near Taxi Square, which is usually bustling.
After wandering around for awhile, I returned to Hotel Tagoo so I could have a drink on the swimming pool terrace and watch the sunset. It turned out to be the most impressive sunset I saw the entire trip, so I was glad I got back in time to watch it.
I had thought my seat outside the Premier Café would be a great spot for people watching, but Mitropoleos Street was practically empty
The seashore at Little Venice offered this view of sailboats, the Wind Spirit cruise ship and nearby Tinos island
Even though three cruise ships were in port this afternoon, the Little Venice area had only a fraction of the tourist traffic I expected to see
Another view of the seaside buildings at Little Venice
One of the Mykonos pelicans preens in the square next to the Paraportiani Taverna
Niko’s Taverna and the adjacent Paraportiani Square are usually packed with tourists, but the square was unusually quiet when I walked through
Also surprisingly quiet was the wide waterfront promenade next to the harbour. Throngs of tourists and locals usually stroll the restaurant- and shop-lined strip at this time of day.
The Remezzo area on the north side of the Mykonos Town center. The vehicles approaching on the ring road will head left to drive either to the Old Port, the Tagoo area of the island, or further north to the Tourlos new port or Agios Stefanos. The area with the orange pylons at right is where people wait for the buses to Ano Mera and Elia beach.
The Hotel Tagoo swimming pool bar catches the warm glow of the setting sun
This was the view, from Hotel Tagoo, of the early stages of the May 20 sunset
The view got more dramatic as the sun dipped closer to the horizon
The grand finale of yet another spectacular Mykonos sunset
My first Greek wedding reception: Following the spectacular sunset, I walked across town to have dinner at Joanna’s Niko’s Beach Taverna at Megali Ammos beach. As I mentioned in Part 4 of my Mykonos trip report, I had dropped by to chat with Joanna on Friday, while I had been walking around after the big thunderstorm, and had promised her I would come back for a meal before leaving the island. When I walked into the restaurant and saw that every seat was taken, I was ready to kick myself for not having made a reservation. After walking all that way, I didn’t feel like hunting for another restaurant, but it looked like I just might have to do that.
Joanna saw me standing in the entrance and hurried over to say hello. She told me the restaurant was busier than usual because the front dining room facing the beach and bay had been booked for a wedding reception. She said she would be able to give me a table in just a few minutes’ time, however, since a couple had finished their meal and asked for their bill. They did leave just a few minutes later, and Joanna seated me at their table, which was right next to the open door for the dining room where the wedding reception was in progress.
Joanna’s customers keep coming back for more
Though this was my first time dining at Joanna’s, that wasn’t the case for any of the people sitting around me. The customers at the four tables closest to me had all been to the restaurant at least once that week, while the couple sitting behind me said it was their third meal at Joanna’s and they would likely be back at least one more time. Several people who arrived after me had all been there before, too — I either heard some of them say “We’re here again,” or heard Joanna or one of her staff welcoming them back. Some agreed to wait for tables to come available, while some made reservations for the next night instead, and headed out to find someplace else to eat. When she wasn’t busy tending to the wedding party, Joanna circulated to tables in the main restaurant area, taking time to chat with her repeat customers and new visitors alike.
I soon got to find out, first-hand, why so many people keep going back to Joanna’s. The food was terrific, and very reasonably priced (a bargain, actually, considering how expensive dining on Mykonos tends to be). I ordered three items and loved them all: fennel balls, gigantes in a tasty onion and tomato sauce, and grilled lamb chops, which were served with a tangy mustard dipping sauce. I was highly impressed with the service, too. Though Joanna and her staff were kept running all evening as they tended to the dozens of guests attending the wedding dinner, they never stopped smiling and never lost their cool. They also didn’t neglect those of us in the other dining room; in fact, the service was swift and nobody had to wait long before beverages and dishes were brought to their tables.
Local band provided live entertainment
Though I was dining solo, I didn’t get bored. When I wasn’t chatting with people at the tables near mine, I watched Joanna and her staff make repeated trips into the wedding party, carrying platters of food, jugs of wine and bottles of beer. There was so much food — all Greek cuisine, of course — and everything looked absolutely delicious. Adding to the festive atmosphere was the traditional Greek music provided by a small band, and all the dancing, clapping and singing that went along with it. Since I was sitting only a few feet from the musicians, I felt like I was a guest attending my very first Greek wedding. It was a totally entertaining and memorable evening, and I was glad I had gone to Joanna’s.
After dinner, I walked through Mykonos Town, surprised yet again by the emptiness of most of the streets. Even the cocktail bars at Little Venice were quiet, despite the fact it was a beautiful night — only a few tables on the sea view terraces were occupied. I felt badly for the restaurant and bar proprietors and their staff, who seemed visibly dismayed by the lack of business. Although I realized that the ongoing economic turmoil in Greece and elsewhere in Europe would have an impact on Mykonos, I never expected it to be so severe on such a popular destination. But tourist traffic was obviously down, in a drastic drop from 2011. During my quiet walk back to the hotel, I kept hoping that this was just a slow start to the travel season, and that things would pick up in June.
It was a beautiful, warm evening, but the Little Venice cocktail bars were almost empty
Only a handful of tables were occupied on the big seaside dining terrace at the Alefkandra Taverna in Little Venice