DJs play live in the supermarkets and a pelican given to the island by Jackie O still roams about in the harbour. The good times on this island can be as fully charged or as deliciously mellow as you like.
A sprawling, reed-thatched shack dotted with swaying pumpkin-gourd lamps, pulsing slightly with sounds from the still-chilled DJ set. The crowd? Distinctly Athenian beach bum. Shoulders the colour of conkers, pareos fashioned from Louis Vuitton leopard-print scarves, diamonds, a conspicuous lack of make-up and perfect masculine top knots. The Cycladean answer to Padstow, if you will, with the dusty car park full of windsurfer boards being hoisted into the backs of Jeeps as lunch segues into happy hour. Meanwhile, weaving its knowledgeable way through the low-slung tables, where pewter buckets of icy rosé and plates of fried calamari have been set down, is a golden retriever with a faded red bandana around its neck.
As the cognoscenti know, June and September are sublime, but August is mayhem. How could it not be? Hailed as The New Ibiza each year (probably before Ibiza was The New Ibiza), this 85.5-square-kilometre slab of rock, named in honour of Apollo’s son Mykons, has become everybody’s top summer getaway, from A-listers to Italian quadbikers. And yet. As British writer Lawrence Durrell, who first visited the island in 1940, observed: ‘However many tourists come with their chatter and their litter, little Mykonos will not let the stranger down.’ Even in the August chaos, when the whorly cobblestoned streets of Chora, the main town, are six-deep with daytrippers, little Mykonos will do its best by you.
The blue-crystal water and the peerless beaches – a different one every day, if you so choose – are part of its charm, along with the meltemi, the strong, dry north wind of the Aegean. But above all there is the peculiar rose-gold Mykonian light, which makes even the most hungover and sunburnt among us look beautiful. Ask any local and they’ll nod their head and assure you this is directly related to the neighbouring island of Delos – in Greek legend, the sacred isle upon which Apollo and Artemis, along with light itself, were born. Think of it as luminary Prozac. The shoe designer Brian Atwood has been holding his birthday party on Mykonos for the past six years (last year’s theme was Purple Haze and many guests, including Lindsay Lohan, Valentino and Peter Dundas, wore purple wigs). As he puts it: ‘Sitting on a beautiful sofa with a cocktail in hand or meditating while watching the sky change from orange to red to blue is part of the reason I’ve been coming here for so long.’ Or as Stefanos, husband of the jeweller Diane Kordas and owner of a spectacular Moomin-trollish villa above Lia beach, says: ‘Name me a place where, within two days of arrival, your stress level disappears, you look like you had a multi-thousand-pound facelift, you all of a sudden appear fitter, thinner and more attractive, and your energy levels explode.’