Ayia Napa

The resort at Ayia Napa, or Agia Napa as it can be called, is one of the most popular holiday spots on Cyprus. Beaches are strung out along the south east shore but the main resort centres around two streets; one parallel to the beaches and the other striking inland. The main clubbing area lies inland, to the north of the resort, with sandy beaches and small harbour to the south

Travel to Ayia Napa

Most holiday visitors to Ayia Napa will fly into Larnaca International airport, a modern and efficient airport located about 45km west of the resort and linked by the main A3 road with Ayia Napa which lies just to the south-east of Protaras. Main roads in the Protaras region are generally good.

Buses services to Ayia Napa and then on to Larnaca are good and there are services to local villages although these are usually only once or twice a day. Many visitors rent their own transport or use the local taxis of which there are plenty.

Beaches

The coast of Ayia Napa is blessed with a string of sandy beach bays that extend both east and west, all with easy access and most with tourist facilities. It's not only noted for its outstanding blue flag beaches it's also the undisputed party capital of Cyprus and its number one holiday hotspot.

Pantahou Beach

Pantahou is the main beach strip of Ayia Napa and it's found just west of the harbour. The Cypriot name is Pantahou but this strip of sand is variously known as Limanaki Beach, or Harbour Beach.
It is one long, straight stretch of sand that heads east for more than a kilometre. It curves around a long bay and must have been an astonishingly beautiful spot surrounded by hotels constructed along the shoreline.

Pantahou may not be considered as chic as neighbouring Nissi but thousands still pack the sands in the summer and all the usual tourist facilities are there, sun beds, sea sports and restaurants.

Pernara Beach

Pernara beach neighbours Pantahou beach and is a very pleasant spot. There is a decent access road to the beach which is sandy if narrow. Rocks have been heaped out to sea to create a breakwater which helps to keep the shallow waters calm in windy weather.

Pernara beach is about 200m long and a little exposed but shelter can be found among trees at the back of the beach. There are a few amenities such as sun beds and cafes but not much else. There is a short walking trail that leads from the harbour and over the headland to Vathia Gonia.

Vathia Gonia (Sandy Bay) Beach

Vathia Gonia beach is also called Sandy Bay (for obvious reasons) and this is the main beach before the hugely popular Nissi Bay that lies a little further to the west. The Cypriot name translates roughly as 'deeply angled' and pretty much describes the setting in a long and well protected inlet with low, rocky stretches reaching out left and right.

At the head of the cove is a good beach of white sand with the usual sun beds and sea sports. The beach is very deep so it rarely feels crowded here. There is also is some good snorkelling in the cove and a number of walking trails nearby.

Nissi Beach

Nissi is the most popular beach in the area and lies about 3km kilometres west of Ayia Napa. Nissi takes its name from the small islet (Nissi means island in Greek) connected to the beach by a wide sand bar which splits the huge sandy beach into two, creating shallow, sheltered waters that are ideal for children to play.

Plenty do - Nissi beach attracts thousands of young visitors every year. Nissi very well sheltered from the wind and sea swells and the beach has every type of water sport imaginable. Windsurfing, jet biking, banana riding, bungy jumping - it's all here. Music blares from several beach bars so this is no place to take a nap. Behind the beach bars are cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops to service the multitudes. The beach gets packed in summer and the early morning arrivals get the best spots.

Latchi Beach

Right at the western end of Nissi Beach is a small cove of sand called Latchi Beach. Some large rocks have been dumped out to sea and covered in concrete to create a sheltered spot. It looks better than it sounds and can make a welcome break from the crowds on Nissi. Latchi may be small but there are the usual amenities and there is good road access to the beach.

Trouble is a giant water park looms over the beach so you can't escape the excited screams. The beach is sandy and the waters shallow and protected so this is a nice beach for families, although the sea can get stony underfoot in places.

Landa Beach

This beach is medium sized - about 300m long beach and is midway between Makronisos beach and the hugely popular Nissi Bay. It's also known as Golden Beach and is quieter that its more popular neighbour though the proximity of nearby hotels and good road access means it can still get quite busy.

The beach is well protected and quite deep so there is plenty of room but no natural shade. Sand dunes bank up the slope to the east and rock pools are found on both sides of the beach, Landa translates roughly as 'water pool'.

Makronisos Beach

A cluster of bays forms the popular beach area around the headland at Makronisos, about 6km from Ayia Napa. There are three main bays, one to the west, another south west and a third south east and all three are well sheltered with fine white sand. These beaches are very popular with local Cypriot families and have all the usual services.

The beaches are deep so there is plenty of room for the many visitors which often include families with children enjoying the shallow, sheltered sea. Makronisos beaches are also highly favoured for beach parties so they can sometimes get both busy and noisy.

Ayia Thekla Beach

About 7km west of Ayia Napa is the small and pretty beach of Ayia Thekla. It is within walking distance from the main road leading into Ayia Napa from Larnaca and takes its name a tiny old chapel on the hill behind the beach. There is a small island offshore that gives good protection and calm waters, so it's an excellent beach for families with children.

The only frequent visitors are the owners of the neighbouring up-market villas. It's one of the quieter beaches in the area although it has got busier in recent years as more tourist villas have been built. To the west of the church is a cave called the 'Catacomb of Ayia Thekli' and further, accessible along a walking trail, is the picturesque fishing port of Potamos tou Liopetriou.

Gliki Nero Beach

Glyki Nero beach is found in a small cove at the far eastern end of Pantahou beach and before the Sea Caves of Ayia Napa begin. The name roughly translates as 'fresh water' and there is a small stream that runs down to the sea.

Even though Glyki Nero is located near Ayia Napa the beach rarely gets crowded as most resort visitors opt for neighbouring Pantahou and don't bother to walk this far. It is a sandy beach with the usual amenities. Steps at the back of the beach lead up to local hotels, while rocks on the eastern side provide shelter.

Kermia Beach

Kermia Beach is located in front of a large tourist hotel complex from which it takes its name. It's in a relatively isolated spot, about 3km from Ayia Napa. The beach is sandy with the usual amenities and backed by low scrub and trees.

There is a small fishing boat anchorage next to the beach and, beyond that, several rocky outcrops that shelter the main beach and provide interesting walks along the shore. Kermia is on the main walking trail to the Ayia Napa sea caves and to the headland at Cape Greko.

Sights

Ayia Napa is not just holiday beaches and bars. Behind the noisy facade are a number of good tourist attractions that make a break from sizzling on a sunbed and drinking the night away.

The monastery is an oasis in the heart of the village and there are a couple of remarkably good museums for those that take an interest in the local culture and history. Walking trails follow the coastline both west and east, with the latter leading to the spectacular coastal caves on the Cape Greco peninsula.

Local holiday travel firms offer everything jeep safaris to champagne cruises and there is even a day trip to Egypt for the more adventurous. Most attractions, it has to be admitted, are aimed squarely at the young and fun-loving. Themed water parks and noisy fairgrounds are in full flow throughout the Cyprus summer holiday season and water sports of every imaginable kind are available on the beaches.

Things to do

Ayia Napa Monastery

An oasis of serene calm in the commercial bedlam of the Ayia Napa holiday beach resort, the beautiful cloistered monastery is sited next to some of the loudest and most vulgar clubs in the town.

Tradition has it that a miraculous icon was found in a cave and became a shrine to Ayia Napa - saint of the wooded valley. A well was found in the cave and a marble fountain built in 1530 as the shrine became a church and later a monastery. The fountain is there today, covered by a pillared dome. The oldest part of the monastery is to north-east where there are four cells with cross-like ceilings.

It is no longer an active monastery but is still beautifully preserved with gates to the north and south. Outside the south gate is an enormous fig tree said to be 600 years old.

Marine Life (Thalassa) Museum

It hardly competes with the other entertainment highlights but the small, private Thalassa museum is very good, with displays of fossil shells, stuffed fish, sharks, turtles and sea birds as well as a particularly good reconstruction of an ancient Mediterranean sailing ship.

The museum opened in 2005 and housed a three story building with six layered levels so you can see the many of the exhibits from all angles, including above and below. Some exhibits are hung from the roof.

The main exhibit, the life-size replica of the ancient (400BC) ship of Kyrenia is on level four. The museum has a pleasant cafe, a gift shop, an open-air amphitheatre for periodic shows, lectures, seminars, and workshops.

Ayia Napa Sea Caves (Palaces)

The Sea Caves of Ayia Napa are a big tourist attraction on Cyprus and are easily reached by road to the east of the beach resort or along the coastal walking trail from the holiday resort centre. The caves are named after the striking rock formations and the rocky cliffs that have been sculpted by the waves to give this part of the Cyprus coast an almost architectural appearance. White rocks and crystal waters give the sea an ethereal blue and green glow.

The sea caves are a favourite target of holiday excursion boats that chug by in an almost endless stream in the high summer. There is access down a rough track from the main road. Visitors can climb down the cliff at the eastern end on calm days and scramble over rocks along the shore to explore inside many of the caves, some of which are very deep. Visitors should take great care on the slippery rocks as it is not a place where rescue is easy.

Cape Greko

To the south of Protaras lies Cape Greco, designated a National Forest Park in 1993 and relatively unspoilt with great natural beauty. The park covers 385 hectares and was once dense juniper forest but is now rather bare, although some areas are being replanted. The park is slowly recovering and has some rare orchids and other plant species that are found only on Cyprus.

On the park a small white chapel Ayii Anargyri in the park is a very popular venue for Cyprus wedding photos. The cape itself boasts a string of spectacular sea caves and large rocks out to sea with coastal paths above the cliffs with places, here and there, where you can clamber down to explore the sea caves. Below the cape is a hermit's cave mentioned in several local legends and further east is a spectacular cave known as the Cyclops' Cave.

Luna Park Fair

As though all-night clubbing wasn't enough on a Cyprus holiday, the Luna Park at Ayia Napa beach resort boasts a clutch of fairground rides to entertain the youngsters. The main rides at the huge fairground are the Skycoaster, which drops you from a great height; the Aerodium, which offers free-fall parachuting; the Wall, where you try not to fall off and the Slingshot, which does exactly what it says.

Atlantis Water Park

The Atlantis waterpark which lies about 3km west out of Ayia Napa and which boasts of being the biggest themed waterpark in Europe, a title easily lost as other waterparks get built or extended.

There is a huge range of water rides, including some extreme chute and funnel slides for the foolhardy. Greek mythology has been heavily pillaged to provide names for the rides and there is everything from Posiedon's Wave Pool and Aphrodite's Bath to the Midas Gift Shop and Homer's Fast Food. To complement the mega-rides there are the usual mega queues in the high season.

Cruises and Boat Trips

There are many opportunities to take a boat trip along the coast line. From Ayia Napa with the party cruise ship - that takes from about 11am until 4pm and passes the Sea Caves, Cavo Greco, Protaras and up to the green line area. From there you can have a view of Famagusta.

Another cruise that is worth taking is with Ayias Triada from the harbour near the Golden Coast Hotel. This trip tends to leave about the same time and goes down to Cape Greco and then up to the Green Line. The only difference with this trip is that there is lunchtime BBQ on board which is included in the cost of the trip.