The Cyclades Feature
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The Cyclades's Best Beaches
The Cyclades shimmer with beaches; every island has a dozen, two dozen, three dozen. They may be a few meters of packed earth, a long stretch of yellow sand, tiny black stones, marble pebbles, or smooth slate. But they are all washed by waters that are Aegean blue—the most unforgettable color in the world.
The Cyclades has a seemingly endless and diverse array of beautiful beaches, each curved like a water-nymph's hip. No one is really sure how many beaches there are. Is 10 feet of sand a beach? It is, if you know it is there. On some, the prevailing wind is northerly; beaches facing south or protected by northern promontories are, as the Greeks say, smooth as olive oil, while beaches facing north tend to turbulence (vice versa when the wind changes). More than 30 beaches here display the E.U. blue flags (awarded for pristine conditions), so it is little wonder Europeans flock here for the salubrious, pellucid waters their homelands lack.
Good to Know
The beaches do not have restrooms per se, but their taverns all do.
Beach chairs and umbrellas cost plenty—usually EUR 5-EUR 7.
Submerged rocks may have spiny urchins on them. Jellyfish, a plague 25 years ago, have mostly vanished (watch out for the long, transparent tentacles) and soothing lotions can be purchased everywhere.
Although more and more of these beaches have access roads, even paved ones, there are plenty with only a perilously winding dirt road leading near them.
The Cyclades's Best Beaches
There are so many wonderful beaches on the Cyclades we can't just pick out three or four to focus on but, offer, instead a full panoply.
Mykonos's most famous beach is Super Paradise; although this is a beautiful stretch of sand with calm water, what makes it so famous is the all-night nightlife. The beach is nearly all taken up with umbrellas and chaise longues, and the back of the beach is lined with bars and clubs. Once gay, it is now mixed and swinging. For a quieter scene, opt for Mykonos's longest beach, Elia, parts of which are nude (although the difference between nude and not can be minuscule!)
Some consider Naxian beaches the best in the Cyclades. The western coast, facing pretty Paros across the strait, is basically a sand beach, broken by rocky promontories, that stretches for miles. Ayios Prokopios, 5 km (3 mi) from Chora, is noted for its little lagoon with waterfowl; families love it here. For a beach idyll, head all the way out to Kastraki; it is really a series of sandy inlets where aquatic hues change throughout the day.
The most popular beaches on Paros are the ones across the bay from Parikia—Marcello and Krios—which are connected, and are gentle and sandy (get there by boat or walk a half hour).
Across the bay from Naousa (use the boat), Kolymbithres is famous for its tortuous rocks; a Mycenaean fortress tops the hill behind it. Further out, Monastiri beach has been discovered and so will lose its gay slant.
The longest stretch of sand on Paros is aptly named Chrysi Akti, or Golden Beach. The world windsurfing championships are held here in August, and umbrellas do not choke it, as so often elsewhere.
On Antiparos, also ringed with beaches, a 10-minute walk from town leads you to Apandima, protected by two islets.
While the two "black" beaches of Santorini—Kamari and Perissa, separated by the mountain topped with Ancient Thera—are world-famous, the black stones lining them heat up and can become too hot to walk on, so rubber beach shoes are advisable.
These beaches face south and, on the clearest days, Crete is almost visible.
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