Why ATV-ing In Greece Is Way More Common Than Riding A Donkey

Ever watched The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?

When I first imagined Greece I thought of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants — a donkey would slowly carry me up the side of a cliff like Lena surrounded by sugar-cube white houses with blue domes. After that I pictured walking everywhere on cobblestones, my flip flops falling off on the unsteady paths.

Boy, was I wrong.

Not only would I be zipping around with my friends on ATVs, but I would discover some of the most secret, breathtaking beaches with views no iPhone could ever capture.

For part of our study abroad adventure outside of Florence, Italy, we were dying to go to Greece. Barely any students our age had traveled there, so we wanted to say loud and proud that we had actually made it to Greece. We decided to book a nice hostel for four days in Mykonos (Santorini is insanely expensive if you’re on a budget!), which turned out to be one of the most memorable trips of my life.

Mykonos geofilter.
Mykonos geofilter. Photo: Amanda Dettmann

Although it took two plane rides and many taxis to get there, that was what made me truly appreciate the island as its own little world.

I don’t know how, but my two friends and I wound up at Brothers’ Rent Mykonos, an ATV company geared toward foreigners wanting to explore the island. These three guys running the company were some of the friendliest Greeks I met during our stay (I still have their business card). They picked us up from our hostel right when we called, and they always drop off customers when they’re done using the ATVs. They spoke pretty good English, so it wasn’t difficult to understand the written agreement and payment for around 40 dollars for 48 hours—hands down one of the best deals on the island.

While we were in the company store, the brothers helped us find ATV helmets that were snug but comfortable; I think I ended up going for the blue helmet to ride in a little bit of style. We were each given an ATV in their parking lot and were shown how to maneuver the vehicle with turning signals, the gas, the starter, and most importantly, the breaks. This, for me, was the most nerve-wracking part, but I realized that I couldn’t master an ATV in a couple minutes; I had to get out on the road.

“My parents are gonna freak out. My dad’s going to kill me!” I kept repeating.

To this day my friends and I still joke about what happened next:

My friends and I finding the hidden beach.
My friends and I finding the hidden beach. Photo: Amanda Dettmann

 

Photo: Amanda Dettmann

We gunned our ATVs out of the parking lot, not truly knowing how they worked but just pressing buttons and gripping handles that made us move forward. With my friend Nicole ahead of me, I followed her all the way down the “highway” to a local gas station so we could fill up our tanks for the 48 hours. Before we got there, Nicole and I decided to turn into a little parking lot to wait for our other friend Brielle.

Turns out Brielle was way behind us and didn’t even see where Nicole and I turned.

So now Nicole and I are looking for basically anybody with slightly red hair passing by on an ATV, meanwhile muttering, “We’re so stupid! She’s never gonna find us.”

At this point my ATV has died. Or apparently died. I started pressing all the buttons and opening and closing panels before a Greek man in the parking lot came over sputtering Greek words and we all started laughing together. In about three seconds he got my ATV up and running. I just kept yelling, “Thank you! Thank you!” laughing hysterically that I still didn’t know how to ride this thing.

Finally, after about 10 minutes and a lot of wrong turns, Brielle found us and we headed to the gas station. What was the plan? “Just keep driving along a road until we find something cool.” ATVs are so much better than riding a bus, in my opinion, because you can stop anywhere you’d like for as long as you want. You can drive as slow or as fast as you’d like. Sometimes on sharp turns I’d slow way down and then on straight, long roads I’d accelerate as fast as possible (don’t worry, they don’t go ridiculous speeds haha, but they’re an adrenaline rush for sure).

After following a random road down past our hostel, we passed by a dock near the ocean and ended up on a rocky sand path. This, was the best part of the whole ride. There were dips and little rocky mountains we had to climb with our ATVs, leaning a lot to the left and right while cracking up—it almost felt like we were going to tip over.

The view was insane: the wide expanse of ocean to our left as we glanced out over the cliff towards the beach we were approaching. How many pictures did I take of this moment? Hard to count.

We spotted a beach with the clearest turquoise water I’ve ever seen. There were no signs that said “private property,” so we decided to come back tomorrow and bring our bathing suits for a swim and a nice tan (or burn for me).

The hidden beach with barely any people.
The hidden beach with barely any people. Photo: Amanda Dettmann

Everything was going great at this point.

Except that Nicole’s ATV wouldn’t start.

“They didn’t tell us anything about how to restart these!” I yelled in a panic. What were we supposed to do? Leave her ATV on the side of a cliff in Mykonos and find our way back home somehow?

“I got this. My dad taught me a lot about cars.”

In about 30 seconds Brielle had Nicole’s ATV up and running again. Luckily, we didn’t have to call the Mykonos Brothers and beg them to help us fix an ATV in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think we’d have even been able to give them correct directions of where to find us!

Paths up through the Mykonos hills.
Paths up through the Mykonos hills. Photo: Amanda Dettmann

The next day we drove back to that unreal beach that had just about eight other people total. I still remember coming up for air in that salty water, just taking in the sun making the waves sparkle in the middle of Mykonos.

The problem?

The day we were supposed to turn in our ATVs it POURED. Not a light mist, a downpour with winds that wanted to blow us right over.

AND this was the day we were headed back to the airport, so we needed to give back the ATVs to the Mykonos Brothers asap.

After many trips running out to our ATVs in the rain while wearing bathing suits (best piece of clothing that wouldn’t totally soak I guess) and towels covering our heads to be able to see, there was still no luck with the ATVs. None of us wanted to risk driving all the way back to the rental place in a storm. To say the least, we felt hopeless.

But you know why the Brothers’ Rent Mykonos is such a good company? We called them to say that we didn’t feel safe driving back our ATVs in the pouring rain.

And you know what? They picked up our ATVs for free at our hostel! Everything worked out in the end; they were more than happy to come help us out. I still believe nothing can beat 40 bucks for 48 hours of driving around a picturesque island.

Great photo opportunities that we found!.
Great photo opportunities that we found!. Photo: Amanda Dettmann

One of the best things I did in Greece was rent an ATV. It was cheap, gave us easy access to hidden gems on the island, and was a rush of pure adrenaline taking on something new in a new country. We cruised by many ATVers every day, with not a single donkey in sight. For those travelers seeking a fast-paced lifestyle and surprises along the way, ATVing is the number one way to explore the island on your own time and budget.

Terrified of following Greek stop signs?

So was I.

But take a risk and ease out of your comfort zone. You just might find the most unexpected thrill of your entire time abroad.

Brothers’ Rent Mykonos phone number: +30 2289 028007

Amanda spent four days in Mykonos, Greece.

Unbelievable seaside views.
Unbelievable seaside views. Photo: Amanda Dettmann

Amanda Dettmann

Contributor

Amanda is an avid traveler who calls Maine her home, but her favorite places include Amsterdam's Christmas markets and Shakespeare's Globe in London. She is passionate about poetry, theatre, and teaching writing to kids and adults with disabilities. She thinks the best part of traveling is hearing strangers' incredible stories. Her ultimate mission? To find the tastiest cappuccino in the world.

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