Cyprus – Off The Beaten Track!
Everybody loves Cyprus…ask anyone who has been…ah the sun…the sea…the beaches…the food! I haven’t met a person who has been to Cyprus and hasn’t loved it. I even work with this slightly crazy guy who whenever you mention Cyprus to he goes on about how amazing the potatoes are…for AGES! (they are amazing though!)
The only person I’ve heard have a slight moan about Cyprus…was my grandad. Now he did like a moan every now and again…but even he was stretching it a bit to find something to moan about…”Cheese, everything they eat they have cheese with it! I even had a bowl of soup and that had cheese in it! Then when I got home, they made me a cheese sandwich!” Brings a smile to my face remembering that conversation…I haven’t experienced this cheese overdose myself in Cyprus…although I am a massive Halloumi fan! (not as much as my dad though…he orders it everywhere!)
I have family living in Cyprus and have been out there fairly regularly over the last 10 years or so, during that time I’ve loved every minute of my trips out there and have enjoyed all the usual haunts, Ayia Napa, Nissi Beach, Larnaca, Limassol, Fig Tree Bay, Paphos, Coral Bay…and there is so much information out there about these awesome holiday destinations…I’ll do a post about some tips for these places soon…but what I really wanted to do was share some of the incredible lesser known places, and show that you can have real adventures and experience so much on this beautiful island…and on a budget!
But…there is way too much for one post…the Troodos Mountains, the north of Cyprus, Famagusta, the only remaining divided capital city in the world, and the Akamas Peninsula!
So in this post I’m going to concentrate on our recent adventure around the Akamas peninsula. During the build up we had been looking for some new places to explore, new things to see, we stumbled across somewhere called Turtle Beach! Also known as Lara Bay or Lara Beach, it is in a nature reserve and this totally undeveloped beach is now a conservation station where turtles come back again and again to lay their eggs, the kid in me jumped out…”We can see turtles!!!” The more we looked into this it seemed like we were going to have to either hire an off road car or go on an organised tour due to just how remote the area was. We decided to book on a tour, it turned out to be a pretty cool option because it included some things we probably would never have known or found out about doing it for ourselves. My family live in a small village between Ayia Napa and Larnaca so it was going to be a bit of travelling from there to the Paphos area where the tour would start from, so we decided to stay local over night the night before the tour.
Our family stayed in the Droushia Holiday Apartments which were a really great budget option. Large self catering apartments which were clean, comfortable, and all had a balcony or outdoor seating area on the ground floor. We got settled into our apartments…and then…I looked through the gap in the trees…Droushia is one of the highest points in the area…and the views are absolutely stunning!
Something else which was really great…included in the stay at the apartments was the use of the facilities at the neighbouring Droushia Heights Hotel….including the spectacular swimming pool with a bar and views over the coast and mountains!
For a small fee you can have breakfast at the hotel and the restaurant was very reasonably priced…plus it looks out over the pool, pretty special!
We went and wandered around the village, a real traditional village, with narrow winding streets, some original mud built buildings can still be seen here as well. We decided to try the local taverna for dinner, I love eating at these local village tavernas in Cyprus, all home made food made to the traditional recipes, local village wine, plus many of them are independently ran small family businesses. This was no different, I had pork Souvlaki (kebab…but not in the unhealthy sense!), dad had a starter of halloumi with a main course of halloumi. We all shared a large carafe of the local wine, and bought some bottles of it afterwards as well! It turned out that the family also owned the coffee shop next door, and ran the museum showing traditional local life as well!
We hit the pool after eating and relaxed in the fresh air at the higher altitude, free from the humidity of the coastal areas we had been staying in, the temperature was still high in the 30’s but bearable with that view!
We got up early for breakfast at the hotel which was really great, and got into Paphos where we were being picked up at 9:30. Our first stop was a Banana plantation…unexpected…I didn’t know bananas were grown in Cyprus, let alone commercially! I’d never seen bananas growing…so although pretty random, it was a cool new thing for me!
This was also an important opportunity for me to smother myself in sun cream…after one of my ill fated early trips to Cyprus where I ended up looking like a freshly boiled lobster, having got the worst sun burn known to mankind which resulted in me accepting any form of help…which turned out to be local help…I was caked in yoghurt…never again. Cypriots do love their local remedies….yoghurt, olive oil, Ouzo (a spirit similar in taste and potency to Sambuca) there is always something which will apparently cure whatever you are suffering from!
We had some photo stops as well along the way of views over the amazing coastline, it really is a great area to explore, with little or no development along a lot of the coast the natural beauty really takes centre stage.
Our next activity was a short hike through the Avakas gorge…now this was adventure time! We were on a mini bus during this tour, which our tour guides promised was the best way of taking the tour due to the air con, everyone else seemed to be in 4×4’s! The road up to the start of the walk was barely wide enough for the mini bus with a sheer drop on one side of the road, and when you call it a road, you are stretching the definition to breaking point! I tried to get my dad’s reaction to it on video, his clenched teeth, holding onto the seat in front with both hands (he’ll deny this till he’s blue in the face!) but due to the bone shaking nature of the ride all I succeeded in doing was taking loads of blurred photographs by mistake, through the wrong lens on my phone!
When we got there thought and began the hour and a bit walk, it really was worth it. I didn’t know there was anything like this in Cyprus! A steep limestone gorge carved out by a river over centuries, and the colours…it was beautiful! Our tour guide took the time pointing out the flora and fauna describing it to us. It was really great fun, and something totally different to anything I had ever done in Cyprus before.
The gorge became narrower and narrower with the sides higher and steeper, lizards were scuttling around our feet, big cob webs which my brother gladly informed me were home to Wolf Spiders had been built in the rock face.
Here we also came across big goats performing death defying leaps along the cliff rock face. One pretty amorous goat was not getting the message that a female goat clearly had a head ache and was not interested and was chasing her all over the rock face, we really thought that they were going to fall, and it would have meant certain death, our tour guide was panicking thinking we were going to view something horrific and began throwing stones towards the male goat, but that was not going to put him off!!! Eventually she found the relative safety of a ledge only big enough for her and we hurried along!
At this point the guide stopped and told us to carry on ourselves and enjoy the scenery, I think the stress of the goat incident may have got to him! He warned us though…”Only go 10 metres in because of falling rocks”. We walked over some steps carved into the rock and were met with another amazing scene, the gorge narrowed further still and there was a huge boulder which had somehow managed to wedge itself between the walls of the gorge. It was another one of those wow moments, and definitely meant going further than 10 metres in.
This really was a highlight of our whole stay in Cyprus and something I really enjoyed, it was so beautiful and totally different.
The next stop was Lara Beach, also known as turtle beach. A conservation area for loggerhead and green turtles, the turtles return year after year to bury their eggs in the sand here, this usually takes place May to August, and then the eggs hatch and the turtles make their way into the sea July to September. There are information points here about the turtles and the known nests are clearly marked and are covered with an open air metal framed cylinder to protect them.
The beach itself is lovely, totally unspoilt, undeveloped, no sun beds or umbrellas here! Just pure unadulterated natural beauty! No litter no crowds…we had a great time on the beach. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any turtles, but we did see the nests and where they were covered which was cool.
The waves were really rolling in here and we had great fun in the sea, jumping into the waves, letting the waves throw us back towards the shore…behaving like big kids! This is the first place I really got to grips with my GoPro camera and I was able to get some really nice shots messing around in the waves, I was using a scuba mask I’d got from Amazon with a Go Pro attachment, I later used this for scuba diving, and it was great, fitted perfectly and the attachment was nice and secure. Check out my post on our first time scuba diving here and check out the shots I was able to get.
After drying off in the warm sunshine we got back on our mini bus and headed off. If your planning on trying to get to Lara Beach I wouldn’t recommend taking a regular hire car there, the roads are pretty rough, hire a 4×4, go on a guided tour, or for the more adventurous there were places to hire quad bikes on the approach. Our next stop was for food, and again it was pretty special, St George’s restaurant, perched on top of a cliff over looking the deep blue Mediterranean, the food was great, but it was one of those places where you almost forget to eat because of the view!
The food was great, the view was great, I enjoyed a beer looking out over the sea…this is the life! Our last stop on the way back towards Paphos was to check out the sea caves, another spectacular view where the sea was almost impossibly blue!
It was an awesome full day trip, and a really great way of exploring off the beaten track on this amazing holiday island. The variety of things available in this area is amazing, from the small traditional villages where time seems to have stood still, the stunning natural beauty, amazing undeveloped coast line. I could easily spend a whole holiday here exploring the Akamas Peninsula. If you’re heading to Paphos include this trip in your itinerary for some adventure and to escape the other holiday makers for a while.
TripAdvisor have the trip available from around £25, really good value – this is who we booked through, you have to pay for your food and drinks although water is provided.
Expedia have the slightly more expensive option for £63 per person, but this includes lunch, and you are taken in smaller groups in 4×4’s and also includes a visit to the Baths of Aphrodite…a beautiful spot where bathing in the water apparently leads to eternal youth…worth a try right?
Again…thanks for reading and if you have any questions then please leave a comment or email me at email@example.com
If you’re after any local insider tips for an upcoming trip to Cyprus then again feel free to drop a comment or an email to me and I’ll try to help out!
Thanks again…Happy Travels!