Kalafati, Greece

Photo: The Wild Hotel by Interni

Ah, Mykonos. You first ventured to the island for its nightlife. Those nonstop parties with world-famous DJs always lasted until the next morning. You kept coming back for the beaches. Powdery sand and crystal-clear water lined with laid-back tavernas and bobbing fishing boats. Now you’re returning for the other side of the island. The east coast has tiny towns, a cliffside hotel, and unbeatable sunrises. Mykonos definitely has a hold over you.

You’re not the only one the island has a firm grip on. The Cyclades island is ideally situated between Tinos, Syros, Paros, and Naxos. That means everyone from the Ionians and the Romans to the Venetians and the Ottomans to even the British and the French wanted to claim their stake. Tourists followed the conquerers. Jet setters arrived in the 1960s. Gay travelers found acceptance in the 1980s. Then those no-holds-barred parties began. Mykonos remains one of the most popular islands in the Mediterranean.

Most visitors, yourself included on previous trips, see very little of Mykonos. They arrive on the ferry or at the airport, get lost in Mykonos Town’s labyrinth of narrow streets, and then plop themselves on a beach. They never see the island’s rocky interior, rugged coastline, or hidden lagoons beyond the busy harbor. They certainly don’t make it all the way to Kalafati.

Photo: The Wild Hotel by Interni

Kalafati is a tiny town on the southeast coast. It, too, has a beautiful beach, open-air tavernas, and water sports geared toward the island’s strong winds. But there are no crowds. Kalafati Beach is ideal for families, swimming, and snorkeling. A 15-minute walk along a coastal trail leads to practically empty Agia Anna Beach. Cafes serve pizza instead of thumping music. While the land around town remains peacefully undeveloped.

That’s why you were surprised to find a boutique hotel on the outskirts on Kalafati. The Wild Hotel sits high above the water on a rocky cliff. Its sand-colored buildings, made of stone and wood, easily blend into their surroundings. An all-day taverna, overlooking an infinity pool, anchors the chic hotel. Thirty-nine rooms, featuring handmade floors and wooden beams, spread out from there. You find rattan furniture, a long terrace, and a smart TV in your junior suite. You also discover a mismerizing view of the turquoise sea.

Suddenly, your plans to explore Mykonos’ east coast vanish. You could simply lounge by the pool, eat saganaki (Naxos Gruyère fried cheese) and frangokeftedes (pork meatballs scented with fennel seeds), sip chilled Assyrtiko wine, and watch sailboats become smaller and smaller until they disappear over the horizon. You could head down to the hotel’s small private beach, where someone will deliver a Wild cocktail. Or you could walk just three minutes to Agia Anna Beach if you still feel like beach hopping. You’re obviously at Mykonos’ whim—and totally fine with it.

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