A picturesque Chora (old town) and reliable sun make Mykonos a popular destination for everyone from families to yacht-sailing celebs. Well known for its party vibes and Mediterranean fusion cuisine, this gleaming isle in the Cyclades chain is a doozy of a holiday destination. And the Aegean Sea is never far away, either. Bays of all shapes and sizes await here, and so do rugged coves and reefs that put snorkeling in Mykonos up there with the top things to do.
In fact, it can seem like there’s a diving outfitter down every street in Mykonos Town, offering PADI courses or test dives for all levels of bubble blowers. They can also cater to budding snorkelers who’d prefer just the goggles and the tube. However, you don’t have to fork out for a guide if you want to go spotting fish and sea turtles in the shallows. You can also go it alone…
Cue this guide to five of the top spots for snorkeling in Mykonos. It ranges from the world-famous sands of Paraga Beach to the lesser-known bays of the east coast, all in search of fantastic locations for diving in and exploring the underwater world of the Aegean. Enjoy…
One of Mykonos’s most popular beaches, Paraga (also sometimes known as Paranga) offers that perfect Aegean cocktail. It boasts calm waters of a gleaming turquoise color, all set between boulder-dotted headlands covered in pine woods. There are clusters of sunbeds on the shoreline and a smattering of hip bars amid the coast woods just behind.
What makes this arguably the best spot for snorkeling in Mykonos is both the visibility and the geology. There are lots of rocks studding the bay, most notably in the form of a submerged reef right in the middle. Dive in there and you should instantly see pockets of zebrafish and sardines darting this way and that.
Then you get the headlands to the east and west. They stretch out below legendary party venues like Scorpio’s, offering over 400 meters of rock-carved terrain that rises straight out the sea. It’s not unusual to encounter sea turtles there, but snorkelers will need to watch out for boats coming in and out of anchor!
Located in a rather isolated, rocky spot on the eastern side of of the island, Frangias Beach is one of the places for snorkeling on Mykonos that you’ll need to make some effort to get to (you’re looking at a 30-minute drive on country roads from Mykonos Town). However, the hard-to-reach location means that it’ll often be just you and the zebrafish here. In other words, it’s the perfect place to go if you prefer snorkeling alone.
There are a few things that make Frangias a fantastic spot for those with the goggles and blow tube in tow. First off, there’s very good protection from the dominant NE swells that roll through the Aegean Sea. That means the waters here are rarely too rough, even late into the season. On top of that, the headland to the east of the beach offers a long run of rock pools and submerged rock reef, which is the perfect habitat for anemones and urchins, little fish and even the occasional sea turtle.
Many people who decide to visit this beach will take a tour. Sadly, that means there’s about an hour of the day when Frangias gets busy with day trippers jumping off the side of the boat. Don’t worry, though – they’re rarely around for more than an hour. What’s more, there are zero facilities on the beach itself, which usually staves off the crowds in the main season between June and August.
Ready for it? Lia Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on Mykonos. And that’s saying something. With bath-warm waters and white-tinted sand, it’s simply a stunner that can often look more Caribbean than Grecian. Again, it sits on the southeast side of the island, tucked into the sun-baked rocks that roll on past popular Kalo Livadi and the main party beaches. That keeps it protected from the northern Aegean swells, which is crucial for that underwater snorkelling visibility.
Lia Beach is actually a well known local hotspot for diving and swimming. It hosts the [email protected] Beach dive center, which is one of the most highly rated PADI providers on this side of the island. But you don’t have to strap on the oxygen tanks to make the most of Lia’s marine wonderland. Just paddle out and there’s plenty to get stuck into…
Surrounded by rocks, the water is teaming with fish and other aquatic life. The eastern end of the bay has a dash of kelp and seaweed forest where miniscule shoals of sardines and small fish dart this way and that in unison. The western half of the bay has deeper rock crevices below the high cliffs, which are the best places for seeking out larger fish like groupers and red snappers.
Agios Ioannis Beach
Agios Ioannis Beach has soft golden sand and crystal clear blue waters. It’s regularly hailed as the finest stretch of sand on the headland that juts out past Ornos. but it’s hardly undiscovered. The whole coastline here is peppered with beach bars and tavernas that spill right down to the sea, serving up Moet brunches and Greek cuisine from afternoon til late.
You’re not here for the champagne though. Your here to snorkel. Thankfully, Agios Ioannis has something unique up its sleeve. The beach fringes the edge of a narrow strait between Mykonos and the island of Delos (a must-visit for history buffs, just in case you haven’t heard of it!). That helps to funnel nutrient-rich waters down this section of coastline and keeps the fish populations very healthy. AKA: There’s lots to see.
We’d say the finest snorkeling in Agios Ioannis is to be had at the south end of the bay. There, the sands narrow and you can get to small pockets of reef with just a small swim. The north part of the beach does have reef, but there’s a designated harbor there and snorkelers have been known to tangle with the fishing nets!
Agrari Beach is often seen as just an extension of next-door Elia Beach, but it’s actually its own cove altogether. The distinction is worth knowing as a snorkeler, too, because this rock-hugged cove is far superior to almost any in the region – the bar-fringed south coast of Mykonos – for diving under with the snorkel and the goggles in tow.
The reason for that is a dash of rock reef that runs right along the shoreline. It’s less than two meters out, so you can be glimpsing small fish and anemones from virtually the moment you get in. An area of the rock has been designated for swimmers and snorkelers using ropes, which helps to keep the purring engines of the taxi boats away from the wildlife.
Those with more experience snorkeling can also head up to the north end of the bay. There, the cliffs loom large out of the water, unfolding in a medley of little nooks and crannies that are sometimes patrolled by bigger groupers or snappers.
Escape the crowds of the western side of the island by hitting Merchia Beach. It’s one of the remoter beaches out east, wedged into a deep inlet under brown-paper peaks and headlands where you’ll spy a few outlines of half-completed villas, the whitewashed Church of Saint Nicholas standing tall on the cliffs above.
Rocky and wild, Merchia Beach is a snorkeling hotspot for more experienced water babies. Sometimes, when the summer north winds are blowing, it can be hard to make it past the swells in these parts. When you do, you’re rewarded with a whole bay to yourself – usually! Plumes of sardines and small fish can be seen in the shallows but bigger fish and even sea turtles are known to patrol the rocky edges to the north and south.
We’ll reiterate: The waves and swells can be powerful at Merchia Beach, so check conditions and only get wet if you’re feeling confident. This part of the island is far away from the maddening crowd, so there’s not likely to be help at hand if things do go south.
Gold-plated snorkels and diamond-encrusted goggles only at Psarou Beach, please. We jest, of course, but suffice to say that this one’s the most upscale place for snorkeling in Mykonos there is. Home to acclaimed Greek-Med fusion restaurants like NAMMOS and the uber-chic Nissaki Boutique Hotel, this is the stomping ground of choice for Mykonos’s celebs and beautiful people.
Psarou Beach runs for over 250 meters from end to end. That means oodles of potential entry points for snorkelers, from snad-bottomed shelves for practicing your breathing and paddling to rocky sections at the headlands. Because the beach is so busy, it’s unlikely that you’ll meet rarer sea creatures like sea turtles or octopi at this one. However, Psarou Beach does excel on the visibility front, mainly because it’s so well sheltered by the cliffs on both sides.
The best and easiest way to get here is by bus. That can actually save time, because parking spaces are at a real premium. Buses run several times per day from Mykonos Town and take about 20 minutes in all.
Can you snorkel in Mykonos?
Yes, there are plenty of places to snorkel in Mykonos. Most of the beaches offer chances to snorkel around rock reefs that do not involve going too far away from the shoreline. Places like Lia Beach, Fragias Beach, and Paraga Beach are probably the best, mainly because they are quiet locations without too many crowds and more chance of seeing rarer creatures like sea turtles.
Which Greek Island has the best snorkeling?
Crete. The largest of the Greek Islands by far, Crete is the number one hotspot for watersports and snorkeling in Greece. It’s riddled with amazing coves and lagoons, not least of all the diving mecca of Skinaria Beach and the pink-tinted coastal isle of Elafonisi. We also think that the Ionian islands are a good shout, especially the east coast of Corfu and central Ithaca, which are known for having beautifully blue waters.
Is there a quiet part of Mykonos for snorkeling?
Yes. Merchia and Fragias Beach both offer a quiet and remote location for snorkeling in Mykonos. As neither beach has any facilities, tourists often stay away. The only time that the crowds will come is during the main season when there are boat trips running out of Mykonos Town, but they only usually stick around for an hour or so.