Two American NBA legends wanted low key holidays with their families without the paparazzi or the public driving them mad. Rather than joining the rich and famous in St Tropez, they hired luxury boats for the season and moored off Platis Gialos beach on the Greek island of Mykonos.
While a few paparazzi shots of basketball stars Kobe Bryant from the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers appeared on the internet and in celebrity mags, they managed to get about without too much hassle.
Mykonos is a drawcard for its ideal climate, stunning beaches and wild nightlife (it's also popular with gay travellers). Cruise ships – sometimes three at a time – disgorge their passengers by the hundreds onto tourist buses which take them to Mykonos Town (or Chora as it is called by the locals). There, it's shopping or visits to the various island beaches to soak up the sun, swim and dine at the many restaurants – an economic boon for a country on the verge of bankruptcy.
Several beaches are there to choose from depending on whether you want to relax or kick up your heels. If you're young then choose Paraga Beach, which stays mellow until 4pm then transforms into a crazy party. For non-stop partying stay at Paradise Beach or Super Paradise, but for a less hectic pace, Platis Gialos beach is the place to be. A range of hotels from the opulent to the more traditional and laid-back front a curved stretch of beach and crystal clear water.
Each hotel has a private stretch of beach with umbrellas and sunbeds. There is a cost but this is normal in Europe and often the hotel offsets the price against a discounted lunch. (What was irksome was being told to vacate the sunbed when you'd paid for a full day because busloads of tourists were coming from a cruise ship to the beach, which had been reserved for them by the restaurant. Words were had with management.)
Swimming and sunbathing are the order of the day at Platis Gialos but if you're feeling energetic – or brave – take a jet-pack ride and soar into the air for an unforgettable experience. It looked exhilarating but I preferred to watch. Or take a morning constitutional walk around the clifftop to the peninsula – it's a rugged track but it will take you to Paraga and Paradise beaches.
A range of restaurants caters for all tastes at Platis Gialos, from Japanese to Italian, and, of course, traditional Greek fare. The beauty is that everything is within walking distance – just minutes between each restaurant – except for Nikos Gallop's charming establishment, which is a small hike up the hill but well worth the effort. You can roll back down! Many of the local restaurant staff eat there, which proves its credentials.
There are a number of small shops in the area that carry a wide range of products from personal care items to fruit, drinks and snacks. A regular local bus service takes you to Mykonos for shopping and sightseeing for the princely sum of one euro. Matogianni Street is home to designer boutiques, bars, jewellers and art galleries and despite the town being such a popular tourist destination you don't feel nearly as swamped by people as you do when shopping on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. That is a nightmare.
The cobbled streets, traditional whitewashed buildings and splashes of colour from the bougainvillea vines create a picturesque environment. Have lunch at one of the many bars and cafes at Little Venice, so called because the sea laps at the bottom of the buildings.
The four white conical windmills overlooking the town of Mykonos are local icons and the first thing you see when sailing into the harbour. Capped with wood and straw, they were built by the Venetians in the 16th century to mill flour, and remained in use until the early 20th century.
The Bonis Windmill overlooking Little Venice houses a folklore museum, while other windmills around the island have been converted into unusual homes.
Ornos Beach, formerly a sleepy fishing port just three kilometres from Mykonos Town, is now a bustling cosmopolitan village with an abundance of hotels, bars and restaurants including Kuzina, a trendy eatery on the popular beach. A local bus service operates between Mykonos and Ornos and there is also a daily boat service from Ornos to other Mykonos beaches. Boat services also operate from Platis Gialos to other beaches if you feel like some island-hopping.
Santorini, another tourist hotspot, is only a plane or ferry trip away.
The climate in Mykonos is perfect, with temperatures ranging from 28C to 40C in high summer. The Meltemi, a cooling wind from the north, brings relief in July and August.
How to get there Emirates Airways $2227
Where to stay Platis Gialos beach
Mykonos Kosmoplaz Beach Hotel
Hotel Lady Anna
To eat Platis Gialos beach
Petasos Beach Resort