The area of south east Cyprus is famous for its fertile red soil, beautiful sandy beaches and spectacular coastline. Over recent years this has led to a rapid increase in the number of tourists visiting the area and the development of its towns and resorts. These include: Paralimni; Protaras; Ayia Napa; Ayia Thekla and Cape Greco, all of which are described in more detail below along with the kiddies favourite the WaterWorld attraction.
Following the Turkish invasion in 1974, Paralimni became the new provincial capital of the Farmagusta district remaining in the Republic of Cyprus. At that time, Paralimni was a small town of some 8,000 inhabitants. Since then the town has grown because of the influx of Greek-
As an administrative town, Paralimni has fairly functional architecture and buildings and very little is left of the original village. Outside the town centre the houses are not very attractive, with many of them being flats in small rectangular blocks. This is more than compensated for however, by the beautiful gardens that are evident, especially when the trees and flowers are in full bloom during the spring time. Within the town square there are a number of small shops; three churches, one of which (Panayia) contains an interesting ecclesiastical museum; an open air theatre and a variety of small cafes and bars. For most people however, the main attraction of Paralimni is its proximity to the coastal resorts of Protaras and Ayia Napa, which are served by a regular bus service.
Although Protaras is part of Paralimni, it has over the last 30 years, grown into a major tourist destination in its own right.as a more sophisticated alternative to the lively resort of Ayia Napa which lies 8km to the west. Protaras grew to be a holiday resort largely due to the beautiful sandy beaches in its vicinity. There are several excellent beaches, each developed to appeal to a particular type of holidaymaker. For instance, the main beach “Fig Tree Bay”, regarded as one of the most popular beaches on the island, offers a wide range of water-
The sea caves along the Protaras coastline are ideal for those who like to explore. There are unique rock formations, arches and hidden coves to appreciate and photograph. While some can only be classed as small crevices, others are ample caverns that you can actually enter. There are also little islets just off the shoreline to admire and one in particular is big enough to serve as a retreat for those who prefer to avoid crowded beaches, or enjoy swimming, as the sea by the main beaches can be packed with people taking part in water-
In addition to its beaches and wonderful coastline, Protaras is also famous for its wide range of large hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants all of which contribute to the lively nightlife of the area -
There is a wide range of restaurants in Protaras, ranging from regular fast-
Finally, Protaras also boasts an Ocean Aquarium with over a thousand species of sea life on display and the famous Ayios Elias church which stands on a rocky outcrop overlooking Protaras and provides spectacular views of the coastline and surrounding countryside. The interior of the church is decorated with vivid paintings that cover the walls and the ceiling and depict various scenes from the bible.
The town of Ayia Napa has been known since the 1990s as the party capital of Cyprus. Although it still has a very lively atmosphere during the months of June to October, Ayia Napa is no longer the clubbing paradise that it used to be. Whilst there are still many bars and clubs throughout the town, increased government control has reduced some of the more obvious excesses. There is much more to Ayia Napa than nightclubs and bars, and it is well worth a visit even for families with children.
Ayia Napa and its immediate local area has numerous golden sandy beaches, most with blue flag status. The most popular beaches are Nissi Beach/Nissi Bay which is 2km west of Ayia Napa and attracts thousands of tourists every year; Pantahou Beach -
Other attractions in Ayia Napa include the old fishing harbour which has had a complete facelift and now includes an open air theatre, fountains and cobbled stone pathways with quaint cafes and restaurants that overlook the Mediterranean; the old Venetian Monastery in the centre of Ayia Napa; the Museum of Marine Life; the ancient burial site known as the Makronissos Tombs and the Waterworld theme park which is described in more detail below.
For those visitors wanting a quieter life than that provided in Ayia Napa, the small village and beach of Ayia Thekla provides a much more restful experience. Located some 5 kilometres west of Ayia Napa, Ayia Thekla is named after the ancient shrine of Saint Thekla, built into the coastal cliffs near the local beach. The village itself is basically very small and resembles a small linear villa development. The local beach however, is much more attractive with its naturally sheltered sandy beach and a small island about a hundred yards offshore making it an ideal spot for lounging or swimming the day away. Ayia Thekla beach is also very popular with the local Cypriots who tend to stay all day enjoying their barbecues, whilst their children swim and play in the shallow, calm waters.
Then of course there is Waterworld, the largest water-
Cape Greco is the Cypriot version of Lands End. Located just 3km from Ayia Napa, Cape Greco is a headland that juts out into the Mediterranean at the most south-
Travelling on the road from Cape Greco to Protaras, you will reach Konnos beach, one of the prettiest beaches in all of Cyprus. Konnos Beach is a picturesque strip of sand in a tiny cove, cradled by rocky headlands and topped with pine forest. Many visitors come here by boat from Agia Napa or Protaras, as it's much the easiest way to reach the beach. The west side of the beach is taken up with jetties and moorings for the pleasure boats, but the rest is simply made up of golden sand and crystal clear water. The beach also has plenty of facilities including car parking, restaurants, tavernas, sun loungers and all the other things that are necessary to make it a perfect day.