Now Cyprus is a country I feel pretty qualified to talk on. Unlike many other countries I talk about, where what I have is a rather fleeting impression of a small part of the land, Cyprus is a long term relationship for me. I have visited Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot part of the island, now 12 times, for at least a week each time, and feel like I have really grown up with the place and the Cypriot people, the friendly, down-to-earth, warm Cypriot people.
Beaches are something they do well in this part of the world so I thought I’d share my absolute, unrivalled favourites with you.
Sprawling below the site of Kourion ruins, which happens to be one of the most impressive and now well preserved array of mosaics and Roman structures I’ve ever had the luck to wander round in the midday heat in August, is the gem of southern Cyprus. From the view points at the ruins you can survey the coast from the close by Akritiri military base on the east to the white cliffs which cup the west of the bay. The beach is long and rocky from this height with three buildings and a few sun beds, cars appear to be slung right near the water and on the east side you might catch a swathe of kite surfers doing their thing come mid afternoon if the tide is right.
When you get to the beach the picture is much the same, the east side of the beach (left as you look at the sea) is a no-go for swimmers due to the undertow/riptide but the west side up by the cafes is a warm, wavy heaven. In the morning the water can be quite calm, or a bit choppy here, and it’ll be almost bath temperature by lunch. The cars aren’t actually parked up on the beach; there’s a flattened car park of large pebbles and sand created a few metres from the beach making for super-convenient access. I’m not a fan of the sand here, it’s sticky and kind of gritty and I’ve never been good with the sensation of even the nicest sand, however sun beds are easy to rent. I spend my time when I’m not in the water at the first bar, nothing fancy, I always remember than everything is a sunshine yellow colour, but the beer is cheap (as everywhere) and the fish here is fantastic. I love to come down in the evening for a fish meze, a mighty selection of fish dishes which arrive at your table one after the other in a seemingly never-ending stream until, and it all tastes so good.
But I missed the best bit – the waves! Everyone loves the waves here. If you catch the tide and the wind right, huge white breakers roll in and smack into you, or crash over you, or soar with you and your inflatable in tow, towards the shore line, making for exhausting wave-jumping fun. I can’t explain why everyone seems to love it so much, kids especially, perhaps it’s the spa-like quality of warm water crashing over your skin from all angles, or maybe it’s the thrill of occasionally getting completely swamped in wave. Either way, it’s the most fun beach I’ve ever been to.
“Melanda” at Avdimou Bay
I can’t really explain how to get here, but you could google Melanda Restaurant, Avdimou and this should take you to the beach. This was one of my family’s first loves in Cyprus, a sheltered, shallow and beautifully clear blue bay, set into the dusty hillside, offering nothing but pure bliss. It’s mostly locals and ex-pats who come here, it’s small and, again, there isn’t much sand and it isn’t very nice, it’s mostly hot pebbles. But you can rent, or bring your own equipment to lie on, or get inventive and sprawl out on the large, warm rocks at either end of the bay. There are always a few small boats parked up near the old jetty, a very few locals bringing in their catches, but their don’t seem to be many fish where I swim. I can’t decide what the best part is; swimming in the cool, smooth water, out for as far as I care to swim, or sitting in the shade of the bar, sipping cold Keo (the only beer worth buying in Cyprus by the way!), munching on some chips and halloumi and watching the world go by. Did I mention, there is nothing else to do here? It’s paradise if you’ve got a good book to read, or some thinking or meditation to do.
You drive away from Pissouri village (I recommend you don’t take the “old road”, it’s a bit hairy, but it is more scenic…) down the windy road, towards Pissouri Bay, a collection of mostly holiday lets right on the water. Visit this beach at night, and walk as far away from the hotels as you can until most of the ambient light is insignificant; now look up. This was the first place I remember seeing the milky way, in all its misty murky glory, hanging there above us like a holy mist. The stars here are stunning. I like this beach in the daytime too though, the bar/restaurants are friendly and very child friendly, there are plenty of sun beds and plenty of space besides. The water is, as always, blue, warm and calmest especially in the early mornings, but it’s never what you’d call rough here. I tried paddle boarding here, at about 9 am, and it was lovely. There are also kayaks, jet skis, para-sailing, banana boats and those funny jet things where it’s like you have a jet-pack (do you know what I mean?). You’re a bit of a captive audience, so the prices aren’t as cheap as some places I’ve seen in the rest of the Med, or Spain, or other countries, but it won’t break the bank. Paddle boarding cost me 15 Euro for the hour – you choose whether that is reasonable or not! I like the dawn till dusk-ability of this beach. It’s easy access, free parking, friendly people and everything you need in a small space, you could easily spend all day here.
Runners Up …
There are lots of beaches I like in Cyprus, there are some nice rocky ones over near Latsi on the other side of the island – great fish mezes but don’t bother with Aphrodites Baths … Aphrodites muddy trickle, if I were her I wouldn’t have bathed there. Also Lady’s Mile Beach near Limasol is a wonderful expanse of peaceful sand, not much shelter and a weird view of the docks but it comes complete with a friendly, house-trained pelican. And Fig Tree Bay in Protaras is crowded, but has bath-like, extremely buoyant seas and you can find some great little fish for snorkelling there. I don’t recommend Coral Bay in Paphos; the last time I went there the sea was great and the bar was lovely but the beach was like an ash tray, I can only hope it’s changed.