These are in no particular order, but I do have a soft spot for Latchi.
I have been with the Cypriot for six years now and had never been to Cyprus for vacation. It sounds as absurd as it is. We go there for weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs, every family event but never for just relaxing. We have been a few nights here and there, but last summer we finally made it to Aphrodite’s birth place with one goal in mind: to see the sea. As summer approaches and plans are made, Cyprus is definitely a destination to be reckoned with!
Aphrodite found one of the prettiest spots in Cyprus to do her ablutions, a hidden cove in the northwest corner of the island. The story goes that while luxuriating in her bath, she just happened to be seen by Adonis who was conveniently hunting in a nearby forest. He stopped to take a sip of the cool mountain water and there he was struck by her beauty. She looked at him, he looked at her and the rest is history.
Those in the know, know that behind the tavern, across from Aphrodite’s Bath, and down the long winding staircase lies one of the most secluded beaches in Cyprus. It is my personal favorite. There are no crowds, the water is warm and all you see is the Med in front of you. I don’t think there are even twenty lounge chairs set out.
For Americans, the whole lounge chair thing is a funny concept. We just bring our towels, lay them out on the sand, and sit. In Europe, the beds are already set out and some guy comes over to tell you to pay him. Sometimes the chairs come with an umbrella as well, and if you’re very lucky, there is a button on the umbrella stand. Press the button and miraculously someone appears with a margarita. Those are the best.
When you’re hungry for lunch, just walk up the stairs to the taverna or head to the Latchi institution Takkas Tavern. I am not sure who Takkas is but he whips up some darn good grilled calamari, feta salad, tzatziki, fried prawns..all those delicious things you delude yourself into thinking are healthy just because you are on vacation. If you are too lazy to head back to the secret beach, you can pop down to the beach below Takkas or Latchi town beach.
Still, only the best would do for Aphrodite, therefore the most luxurious hotel in Cyprus set up shop practically walking distance from her bath. No longer do they have to meet in the woods, but Aphrodite & Adonis can enjoy one of the most beautiful hideaways in Europe, the Anassa Hotel and Spa. Nestled in the woods between the town of Polis and village of Latchi with its own private beach, the Anassa is definitely a Bit of Paradise. We were only there for an afternoon dip and frappé, which made me very sad. I can’t wait to go back to stay the night, try out the spa and take advantage of everything the Anassa has on offer.
As the sun went down and it was time to go back to Paphos, we stopped at Artopiotis Bakery to pick up the best cookies and cakes in the area. This made us feel a little better!
Just minutes away from Ayia Napa sits its grown up sister, Protaras. Yes, you can tell they are relatives from the bars on the main strip named after American sitcoms, e.g. Friends, Love Boat, Cheers, and the entertainment choices of Karaoke and/or Elvis impersonators…which is not always a bad thing. Still, the water just cannot be beat. Actually this is true of most of Cyprus. There is a reason that Aprhodite emerged from the sea onto this island…the water is the most beautiful I have been to…ever. Clear and warm and inviting, the beaches may be packed but it’s so worth it. Of course, it all depends on where you sleep and eat. Unlike Ayia Napa, Protaras has some luxurious spots and, in between the tacky bars, a punter can find a good cocktail without listening to a Greek-accented version of Love Me Tender.
The Capo Bay Hotel on Fig Tree Bay is the only place to rest your head in Protaras, in my opinion. Another luxury hotel has opened its doors in the ‘hood, but upon checking out the lobby, I knew where we were was the perfect spot. It looks like a Cypriot hotel should: clean, white, airy, that right mix of modern beachy furniture that immediately makes you feel relaxed. Our room had a lovely view of the sea, which is why you go there in the first place, and loads of Lemon Verbena L’Occitane products in the bath (my fav scent!).
It is busy out at the pool but we had no problem finding lounge chairs with a view overlooking the Med. These can be reserved for the whole of your stay so make sure to tell the pool attendant. There is a limit on how many towels you get BUT they will always give you a fresh towel if yours gets damp. It’s a quick step down to the beach for a swim or straight to the pool for those who don’t like to get clammy. I do the beach/pool combo and it’s that all day long while reading my book. If you want another view, you can always go to the lovely Konnos Bay, which is only a five minute car ride away.
Lunch at Mama’s Taverna has every thing you would expect from a busy poolside restaurant. I can’t live without a feta salad and taramasalata while in Cyprus, so I am always happy here. There is also a poolside bar so those four o’clock frappé cravings, or something slightly stronger, can be easily satisfied. I tend to sit out until most people have packed up in order to watch the long sunsets I never get to enjoy at home. Protaras sunsets are worth it – so hold out going back to your room.
There are restaurants galore on the main street serving any cuisine you like. I always stick to the local and two places are definitely worth a visit. Kyklos, across from the Sunrise Beach Hotel, and Andaman, a little further down the strip, have your standard Greek Cypriot fare: halloumi, kabob, more than one aubergine creation.
After dinner, drinks can be found at the very sexy Verano Lounge, technically the bar of the Sunrise Pearl Hotel. Under a tented roof, you sit outside sipping Mojitos listening to the Euro-mood music that usually me makes giggle. In this setting though, it hits the right chord and forces you to get into holiday mood.
I love the Paphos public beach in the late afternoon. Don’t expect glitz and glamour. Usually the sand is dirty with seaweed and the lounge chairs are strewn willy-nilly from the descent of the masses in the morning. I have never had to pay in the afternoon, since the beach chair boys are already long gone. Hunt the tiny crabs that are clinging to the rock surrounding the beach has become an Olympic sport for us here. Then I sit here soaking up the last rays of sun while my frappé high comes down and is replaced by the need for Ouzo.
The Almyra Hotel is hands down the best in Paphos. It has the same management as the Anassa so it’s not a surprise that its standards are high. It is a bit more modern and sparse than the Anassa but equally as chic. The sea-view rooms are the way to go. (One caveat – beware the back rooms as there is a great disco next door but one that shuts at 3:00am on Saturday night.) Spend the day not moving from here…unless you want a little more intimacy at the adult-only pool.
My favorite restaurant in Paphos is the Almyra’s Ouzeri placed right at the edge of the water. The sound of waves lapping against the rocks combined with the live music and strong liquoricy ouzo puts you in the mood for the other activities you like to do while you’re away. (nudge nudge)
If you’re so over water lapping at your feet and sunsets and great beach front views, go grab yourself a kebab at the one and only Vassano Taverna. It’s definitely worth seeking it out as are not all the same. Don’t give me chat about how you already had one in Nicosia. The beauty of the Cypriot souvlaki is that is different in every town. The Paphos kebab has the same insides but it’s what’s on the outside that matters too. The bread holding the whole thing together is totally different, duh! This was all made clear to me by my Cypriot who would eat one every night if he could.
The other beach we tried in Paphos is Coral Bay. It’s crowded and the water is a bit more chilly, but if you go all the way down to the end away from the hotels, you can enjoy a bit of privacy and feel like you are on your own.
We spent our last afternoon of beachy fun hanging out at Plussea – a cocktail bar/beach club – in Limassol. We joined a young, hip, trendy crowd that was managing to get all sandy and look cool simultaneously. It was not as easy for me to catch on to this right away but after a few rum & cokes, you get it pretty quickly – at least the hanging out bit. Aphrodite’s birth place may be a few miles away at Petra tou Romiou but she and Adonis definitely partied here. We were super lucky to get one of the last beds, so come early and plunk yourself down for the day!
If you want more time in Limissol, there is a lovely hotel called Londa where the Cypriot and I parked ourselves for a day last year on another familial visit. Their beach club is great and on par with the Anassa and Alymra.
There are loads more beaches to discover in Cyprus, esp. Lady’s Mile in Limassol and Governor’s Beach near Nicosia, but I only managed to hit the ones above in a concentrated week of beach trying.
Cyprus is a little less tidy than Greece but I find that one of its charms. It’s the last bit of Europe before the Middle East steps in to take over and you can feel and taste it in the food and atmosphere. It’s a big island so you have to seek out the bits to call your own, but it is well worth it.
NB: Eat as much Halloumi as you can and always save room for Kateifi (google it)!
BEST BITS – CYPRUS BEACHES
- Anassa – 40 Regenas Road, 8852 Neo Chorio Tel: +357 26 888 000
- Takkas Taverna
- Artopiotis Bakery – On the E713, Poli Crysochous, Cyprus
- The Capo Bay Hotel – Iasonos 2, Protaras, Telephone: + 357 23 831101
- Kyklos Greek Restaurant – On the Protaras strip, 300 meters from hotel towards fig tree bay
- Andaman Restaurant – across from the Sunrise Pearl Hotel
- Verano Lounge Bar – Protaras Avenue, in front of the Sunrise Pearl Hotel
- Almyra – 12 Poseidonos Avenue, Tel: + 357 26 888 700
- Vassano Taverna – 26 Agapinoros Street, Paphos, Tel: +357 26942635
- Plussea Lifestyle Bar – 5 Amanthus Avenue, Beachside Pedestrian Pathway, Tel: +357 25 634995
- Londa Hotel – 72 George A Street, Tel: +357 25865555