White, sandy shores and clear waters abound on the island’s south-eastern coast. The beaches around Agia Napa and Protaras are among the best on the island. Starting a few kilometres west of Agia Napa town centre on Nissi Avenue is the fishtail-shaped Makronissos Beach. Its lack of currents and shallow waters make it perfect for small children. For history buffs, the nearby Makronissos Tombs, a Neolithic burial site of 19 tombs cut into the rocks, can be visited for free.
Also off Nissi Avenue, four kilometres from Agia Napa, are the white sands of Nissi Beach. For those who like a nice stroll or a long trek, a wooden walkway along the coast begins here and continues eastwards, turning into a paved area around Kermia Beach and then into a ‘nature trail’ (a clearly distinguishable dirt track) that leads all the way to Cape Greco. On the way to Protaras, at the island’s south-easternmost tip, Cape Greco (spelled Kavo Gkreko on road signs) attracts nature-lovers with its vertiginous cliffs, eroded rocks, stunning sea caves and crystalline waters.
A sign-posted turn-off will take you to Konnos Bay, an intimate, protected cove favoured by locals. Water sports are available here.
Further up the coast, Protaras is famed for its seductive beaches which, though crowded in summer, are every visitor’s dream come true: powder-soft white sand and sparkling, shallow turquoise water. Fig Tree Bay and the slightly smaller Green Bay are among the most popular stretches of sand here.
Halfway between Protaras and Paralimni is the Kapparis Resort, with a good selection of restaurants, friendly bars and a succession of secluded coves in the shadow of towering limestone cliffs. The area has only recently come under development and is still a work in progress; take care, as much of the road is little more than dirt track.
See all venues in Agia Napa & around and Protaras
The dark sand here is less attractive than the blond numbers further up the eastern coast, but beaches are generally very clean, many to international Blue Flag standards. Sunbeds and umbrellas are quite cheap to rent, especially along the Phinikoudes promenade and Mackenzie Beach, south of the town.
The main seaside stretch in Larnaka itself is the Phinikoudes promenade (officially named Athinon). The palm trees which give the promenade its name were first planted in 1922, and today it is surrounded by shops, bars and restaurants. At opposite ends of the promenade are Larnaka Fort and the Marina, both peaceful places to visit.
For more secluded beaches head towards Mazotos, a village between Larnaka and Pyla. The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) beach along the Dhekelia Road, between Larnaka and the British Sovereign Base of Dhekelia, hosts beach volley and handball tournaments and its facilities include a small children’s playground and water sports.
See all venues in Larnaka
Split into two areas linked by a long seafront promenade, Lemesos consists of the Germasogeia Tourist Area, which leads to the more interesting Old Town further west.
Germasogeia Tourist Area
Stretching east along the coast from the centre of Lemesos, the overdeveloped concrete jungle of the tourist strip at least has convenience on its side – most venues are located on the long beachfront road. One thing this area does well is nightlife, with several stylish bars to be found among the endless line of hotels (see Cote D'Azure, Breeze, Flo Café, Drops and Guaba).
See all venues in Lemesos & around
Aleppo pines and juniper cover the rough terrain of hills that run along this spine of coastland, most of it made up of white sandy beaches such as Coral Bay (not too far from Pafos, and definitely worth a visit). The remote Lara Bay offers a more secluded bathing experience, and is the protected nesting area of the island’s endangered green turtles. For information on turtle-watching and conservation volunteering opportunities, contact Episkopi Turtlewatch (25 325 292).
Petra tou Romiou
Aphrodite’s Rock. On the old Pafos-Limassol road B6, 25km from Pafos.
Along the old coastal road, about 15 minutes from the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, you will come to the Rock of Aphrodite. It’s here that the irresistibly lovely goddess was born, rising from the waters. As legend dictates, those who manage to swim round the rock three times gain perpetual beauty (a promise not guaranteed by this publication).
See all venues in Pafos & around
In the the north east of the island, the Karpas Peninsula is one of the island’s last areas of natural beauty, largely untouched by commercial development and tourism.
The peninsula offers visitors some spectacular landscapes, ranging from virgin beaches and rolling, pine-clad hills to unspoilt rural villages. A nature-lover’s paradise, the Karpas is the last place in Cyprus where wild donkeys roam; in summer, endangered Chelonia Mydas and Caretta Caretta sea turtles nest on its beaches. In spring, meanwhile, cyclists and hikers migrate here.
Due to the remoteness of the region, visitors have to provide their own transport, either by renting a car or taking a taxi. If you’re coming from the south on a daytrip, it’s advisable to plan a very early start to make the most of your day; otherwise, you’ll barely scratch the surface of this unique area.
The Ambiance Restaurant & Beach Club is a small, family-run, beachside establishment, offering a more up-market version of the ubiquitous kebab, plus a variety of other dishes: steaks, pizzas, pasta and fish. The best time to visit is on summer evenings, when you can eat under the stars and listen to the Mediterranean lapping gently on the shore.
Around Kyrenia (Girne)
Five kilometres outside Kyrenia, Escape beach club occupies one of the finest beaches on the northern coast, with its calm waters and golden sands. The expansive club incorporates a restaurant, an enclosed and open-air dance club, sun decks and a scuba school. Child-friendly and with ample car parking, Escape is an inexpensive place to spend a lazy day – a day pass for the beach and facilities goes for around 10TL. Invariably brimming over at weekends, Escape’s open-air club frequently hosts big name European DJs and is the club of choice for many in the north.
26km north of Famagusta.
Boasting one of the best beaches on the island, the scenic fishing village is popular with both locals and tourists. Offering a selection of seaside cafés and restaurants, Bogazi (or Boƒaz) is a convenient stop-off for anyone travelling around the Karpas Peninsula. Despite the recent construction boom in the area, the beach retains its natural beauty.
See all venues in North Cyprus & around
Read more about Cyprus' regions