Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beaches of Cyprus

Cyprus has many beaches that vary from scenic rocky cliffs to vast expanses of pure sand. So far we have done most of our swimming on the south-eastern and the southern shores.

Protaras has an excellent beach of both rocks and silver sand. The best place to find parking and beach access is through the Silver Sands beach hotel; a hotel Alexia has been going to since 1996. This hotel doesn't make their guests wear colored wrist bands so it easy to "break into" the hotel's pool, showers, and bathrooms. There are public bathrooms and changing rooms on the beach that are clean. The beach has a long stretch of sand for those who enjoy lying and tanning, walking, building sand castles, or playing games. The beach also has rocks with a large variety of sea life. You can find octopi, sea cucumbers, sea sponges, sea urchins, a variety of plants, and many fish including rock fish, star fish, flounder, multi-colored tropical fish, black, and sliver fish. Alexia has seen cuttlefish, eels, and sea snakes but these are a rare find.

The next beach we have been to a lot is Makronisos by the town of Agia Napa. It is on the other side of the south-eastern peninsula from Protaras. This beach is not as diverse as the Siler Sands, but it is still quite nice. There are sea urchins everywhere; so much so that you have to watch yourself if you decide to stand up. There's also a cool sandy beach where it is nice to just hang out in the water and swim a bit without having to worry about injuring your feet.

Another beach is that of Larnaka. This beach is a long expanse of dark colored sand and pebbles. There are break waters to stop the large waves. Most of the winds in Cyprus are southerlies and Larnaka is on the southern shore so the waves can get fairly large. You can find some life on the breakwaters such as limpets and small crabs. This is one of the most ideal beaches for wind and water sports as there are no rocks to worry about. Unfortunately, sailing hasn't really caught on yet. We have seen some lasers playing in the surf at a small dinghy marina. We plan to check this out in the near future to see if we can get some sailing in.

A famous beach of Cyprus is Petra Tou Romiou, or Aphordite's Rock. Cyprus is the island of Aphrodite, the mythological Greek goddess of love and beauty. This beach is said to be the birthplace of the goddess. It has 3 large rocks and a pebbly beach. The water is usually murky to due waves and strong currents. We didn't go swimming this time, but Alexia and her family has done so in the past. We haven't mentioned this yet but the Mediterranean is very salty. Unless there are showers, you get very sticky after a swim.

The other beach of note is called the Governor's beach. It's also on the southern shore near Limassol. We haven't been to the actual beach yet, but to the surrounding area. Right next to the beach there is this area made up of these huge white rocks. Getting into the water was a little tricky as you had to walk across these slippery, rough rocks, but once you're in the water it's great. This beach is much deeper than the others and you can find many reefs in the deeper parts. The life here is very diverse, but you have to watch out for the jelly fish. We're not sure if they're poisonous, but we really don't want to accidentally find out that they are.

The place we went swimming which wasn't really a beach was at the sea caves on Cape Gkreko. Cape Gkreko is what separates Agia Napa and Protaras. We first stopped on the southern side by Agia Napa to look at the caves but didn't go swimming there because there wasn't easy access to the water. It involved some serious climbing. Maybe for another time. After that, we went to the other side of the cape and found a small church which had stairs going down to some of the caves and from there you could climb into the water without too much difficulty. The water here became very deep very quickly. It very quickly became 60-70 feet deep, but the visibility was so amazing you could easily see straight down to the bottom.

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