In May, 2013, a survey by The European Environmental Agency found the waters off Cyprus to be the cleanest in Europe, so you can take a dip there without a care in the world. To mark the announcement, we’ve profiled the best of the island’s cleanest beaches and, with over 400 miles of coastline, there was a lot to choose from!
NISSI BEACH, AYIA NAPA
On the south east coast, Nissi Beach is probably the most famous in Cyprus. It features two connecting stretches of sand, which run for around 500 metres in the music-mad resort of Ayia Napa. Already awarded Blue Flag status, it’s long been recognised as a safe place to swim and play sports, including windsurfing and volleyball. The waters are a stunning blue and visitors can wade through the ocean to reach an uninhabited islet a short distance from the cove. As well as being the cleanest waters in the world, here you’ll also find some of the safest, as there’s an excellent lifeguard team on hand. As a busy tourist destination, there are lots of bars and cafes serving food, so you won’t have to go far when you’ve worked up an appetite.
Best bit: The beautiful waters have a unique selling point in that they’re shallow enough not to reach above the waist. This makes them appealing for splashing around and cooling off from the heat.
LARA BAY, PAPHOS
Lara Bay has long benefited from being a protected area, as it’s the beach of choice for Loggerhead and Green turtles to lay their eggs. As endangered species, it’s vital their nesting grounds are kept clean, natural and free from overdevelopment, which means this beach is preserved like a deserted paradise. The sand is golden and the bathing waters unspoilt, but be sure to take your own supplies if you require food and water, as there are no shops nearby. It’s a peaceful break from the hustle and bustle of modern life, letting natural beauty take centre stage. However, it will get more populated in May-August, as this is when the turtles lay their eggs and volunteer schemes, to ensure their survival, pick up pace.
Best bit: In addition to the turtles, the bay is a natural treasure trove, where every spring attractive and colourful alpine flowers decorate the surroundings.
FIG TREE BAY, PROTARAS
Probably the most beautiful beach on the island is the curvy Fig Tree Bay. The beach got its name from a single fig tree planted on the coastline, supposedly by invaders sometime in the 17th century. For a number of years now, it has repeatedly been awarded the Blue Flag status for cleanliness. Behind the bay are cliffs and about 100 metres in front is a small island, clearly visible from the sand, where colourful fish and beautiful coral reefs populate the surrounding waters. As a result, it’s a favourite amongst locals, as well as tourists, to scuba dive and snorkel; especially as the site is so close to shore and clear, shallow waters make it easy to navigate. In addition to this exploration and sunbathing, people come here to rock climb, jet ski and windsurf, which gives the bay an energised atmosphere throughout the day. To experience all it has to offer, stay until sunset.
Best bit: A walk up the cliffs beside the bay gives stunning panoramic views of the beach, where the beauty and scale of the area can be appreciated. The best opportunity for photographs is on top of the cliff, beside the Church Ayios Illias.
KOURION BEACH, LIMASSOL
With a rockier edge than most beaches in Cyprus, pebbles underfoot and a strong breeze mean at times you’re up against the elements. These conditions make it huge for paragliding fans. Reaching the beach is easiest by car and almost like discovering a secret, especially as it rests outside of Limassol. Here, waves crash onto the shore, making mini-crescendos for long strolls across the foot of white cliffs. From the beach, you couldn’t be further away from urban life. Instead there’s a wealth of ruins to explore in Ancient Kourion, which sits on the hillside and includes the Temple of Apollo, the House of Gladiators and a range of well-preserved floor mosaics.
Best bit: The beach is a great place to dive into history, as it’s overlooked by the impressive remains of the Kourion Greco-Roman Amphitheatre. Built in the 2nd century AD, it gives an insight into the political life of a long-lost civilisation.
Whichever beach appeals to you, make sure you relax, soak up the sun and smile. After all, you’re in a well-maintained environment, with beautiful views, and amongst locals taking pride in their island.
For more information about hotels in Cyprus, go to www.lowcostholidays.com/cyprus/all-inclusive; for apartments in Cyprus go to www.lowcostholidays.com/cyprus/holiday-apartments or for a truly indulgent experience, try Limassol’s Mediterranean Beach Hotel. For more information about Low Cost Holidays, go to www.lowcostholidays.com. Follow Frances Atkins on Twitter at @francesaatkins.
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