When you’re good, but so annoyingly good, you don’t really need to overexert yourself with elaborate marketing skills. Let others do the talking for you. Beach is everything here, tip top adorable, a little gem, are some of Trip Advisor’s early July reviews on Protaras’ Fig Tree Bay or what about, the lagoon of romance, stunning, ‘I fell in love with this place’ from June visitors to Cape Greco. In any case, whichever mood suits your holiday fancy, Ayia Napa has its own special corner for you. Think this is corny or over-rated at your own peril. Here are the four top beaches in the area which still remain within everyone’s grasp –crisis or no crisis.
Fig Tree Bay, Protaras
Some of the competition says it dropped in popularity from 3rd in 2011 to 13th in Europe’s top beaches in 2013. So what? So far this year it still squeezes in the top 25 in Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s choice, as ‘potentially the best beach in Cyprus’. So its golden white sands are still as hot as ever and besides, numbers don’t always aspire to quality. The half kilometre beach and the bluish-green waters around it, running the length of a cove, remain a ‘blue flag’ destination. Taking its name from the fig trees located close to the coast, that used to provide natural protection in the summer, the bay has become more popular with families in recent years, but those seeking the holiday adrenalin rush can of course still find the organised water-skiing, windsurfing and parasailing activities. A bushy rocky islet easily reached through the shallow waters, provides a romantic shelter from the rest of the beach and crowns the idyllic setting. At the commercial heart of Protaras, walking distance from dozens of restaurants, bars, shopping opportunities and children’s facilities. If there was a Travellers’ Choice for a weekend getaway, Fig Tree Bay would most definitely score pretty high. On a personal note, seek out and try the Mastiha narghile…
Konnos, Ayia Napa
Four kilometres east of Ayia Napa, on the road between Cape Greco and Protaras, Konnos is the last beach on the boundary between Ayia Napa and Paralimni. Trust the island’s tourism organisation when it says the beach on the south-east coast is well sheltered from heavy summer winds with practically no waves. A 200-metre stretch, 35 metres wide, its fine sand and surrounding rocky setting make it one of the most picturesque on the island. Water sports facilities, as well as sun bed and umbrella hire are available, as in all beaches of the area, with the coast accessible by car, motorcycle, bicycle and on foot. The ‘Daily Telegraph’ described it a few years back as a Blue Flag destination, close to the dramatic rugged coastline of Cape Greco, ‘a national forest park with excellent nature trails’. Admire the sunsets and look out for starfish in the amazingly clear water. It has been dubbed as another ‘family beach’, close but not too close to the 18-30 scene of Ayia Napa and the weekend rush at Nissi and Makronissos. Check out the romantic travel writing of ‘ayia napa-travelwaves.com’, introducing the area and recommending day trips; ‘Konnos beach and an Ayia Napa holiday go together like a wedding dress on a bride’.
Cape Greco, Ayia Napa
Do you believe in tourism and numbers? Cape Greco is ranked 16th out of 348 attractions in Cyprus and given the island’s long standing history, monuments, churches, coastal and mountainous resorts, that’s a pretty high number. Designated as a National Forest Park in 1993, the protected area is nestled midway between Ayia Napa and Protaras. 385 hectares long, it used to be completely covered by a dense juniper forest. Today, though, junipers and pines are more sparsely found within the area, having mostly low level growth. It offers a wide range of summer activities, including diving, towed parachute, fishing, cycling riding and climbing. The rocky seabed and underwater caves encourage a wealth of marine life making the area very popular for snorkelling and scuba diving. The Palace and Smugglers caves are deep passages to the cliffs only accessible by sea and some extending as deep as 240 feet to the rock. With calm seas you can even walk in to most of them. Although mostly rocky, the waters are wonderfully clear, with daily boat trips. Those brave enough amongst us can engage in cliff diving or jumping.
Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa
The rocky mesmerizing views of Cape Greco and tantalizing golden sands of Nissi Beach have long made Ayia Napa a popular holiday destination. The half kilometre stretch, basically the first beach you see when you drive into the area, is another blue flag, taking its name from the small islet (Nissi in Greek) located close to the coast. Daily, from May right through October, beach parties are held, featuring some of Ayia Napa’s best known DJ’s as well as guest artists and celebrities. At the heart of the 18-30 tourist scene, you can expect special appearances, dance contests, parties and other clubbing activities in this bustling noisy heart of the resort. A range of water sports is available on the organised beach, including bungee jumping. Ranked third out of 34 attractions in Ayia Napa, Nissi Beach might be the most famous and most captured on camera in Cyprus, but through the gloss it hasn’t lost its original, natural beauty. That perhaps remains its strongest attraction year in, year out.