Sun Escapes in Cyprus: Our 5 Top Secret Beaches
If your image of Cyprus in high season is one of scorched, drunken tourists clogging the beaches, you’re going to the wrong places. Cities such as Paphos, Ayia Napa or Limassol do get pretty crowded in summer, but if you rent a car in Cyprus and explore, you’ll discover some heavenly golden beaches that have been virtually untouched. Here are some of our favourites, but don’t tell anybody else…
Pick up your rental car in Paphos and head across the hills via Kathikas to the Polis area, less than an hour’s drive away. Here you can either turn left for Latchi’s pebble beach and the tranquil coves of the Akamas Peninsula, or turn right to Polis. Beyond Polis, you’ll discover some absolute gems studded along the sweeping Chrysochou Bay.
The most glittering of these jewels is Kato Pyrgos, set at the base of Troodos Mountain,just beyond Pomos. As the place where locals go to escape the tourists, this is an authentically Cypriot beach. The water is deliciously cool and clear, lapping onto some of the most pristine beaches on the island. Schools of dolphins often play out to sea, and you can wander the village to explore rich archaeological heritage.
Take your rental car 7km west of Kato Pyrgos to reach the deserted paradise of Mansoura. The drive is along a winding road of spectacular beauty, which skirts the Turkish enclave of Kokkino, but the effort required to get here is definitely worth it.
The village of Mansoura is just a scattering of houses, one of which is a taverna that serves fish straight off the boat. Enjoy a meal, then relax on the idyllic beach and watch your troubles disappear. On clear days (most of the summer, in other word), you will be treated to superb views of Morphou bay and the Kyrenian mountains in the Turkish controlled North of the island.
Chrysochous Bay is essentially one endless beach, stretching from the edge of the Akamas Peninsula to Pomos. Argaka beach is a sand and shingle beach with enticing, crystal-clear water stretching down from a sleepy village tucked into the hills.
The relaxed atmosphere of the village extends to the beach, where you can spend day after sunny day lounging, reading, or watching the local population of endangered green turtles. Head to Saint Barbara Restaurant, at the Polis end of the beach, for sun loungers. There are breakwaters for safe swimming and plenty of deserted areas where you can get away from it all.
Tucked away in the glorious wilderness of the Akamas Peninsula, Lara Bay is a beautiful horseshoe bay of pillow-soft sand backed by rocks. One of the last remaining places where the green turtle still breeds, Lara Bay lies on the Paphos side of the peninsula, about 8km from Ayios Georgios.
It’s not easy to get to (you’ll need a 4X4 for the bumpy road), Lara Bay is a refuge from some of the more developed places in Cyprus, and you will probably have the beach all to yourself. If you venture beyond Lara Bay, you will discover several totally deserted rocky coves. Just remember that access to the beach here can be restricted in summer, when the turtles are nesting.
A different kind of paradise exists on the other side of Cyprus, in the far north-east. The Karpas Peninsula is a two-hour drive from Larnaca by rental car and a world away in terms of landscape. Country roads wind their way through olive groves and tobacco fields. fed by subterranean water sources that leave the Karpas Peninsula green long after the rest of Cyprus has burned brown.
Road improvements between the border at Kato Pyrgos and Nicosia and the opening of the border crossing combine to make access to the Karpas Peninsula’s 45 sandy beaches much easier. Even so, you will have most of them to yourself. The most spectacular is Golden Sands, which reaches to the southern horizon, framed by towering dunes and looking out onto the magnificent Famagusta Bay.
The best advice to anyone hoping to escape the tourist traps is to rent a car in Cyprus and explore the coastline beyond the major cities. You’re sure to find your own perfect escape.