The beaches of the Greek Islands have long been a favorite destination, but it’s time to explore some lesser known alternatives to your favorite beaches
Travellers from around the globe dream of a Mediterranean beach vacation. For many, that usually means a trip to the Greek Islands. Year after year visitors are drawn to the area’s beauty, food, and history as well as the beaches. What few people know is that you can get all of that and more with the added perks of being less expensive and less crowded by skipping the Greek Islands and heading to Cyprus. This 5,700 square kilometer island is home to some of the best blue star beaches in Europe. Many of the nicest beaches come with the added benefit of being a part of a major city which means plates of fresh traditional cypriot food – think Greek food but with added flavor from the island’s centuries of being one of the most important ports connecting Northeastern Africa, the Middle East, and Europe – are being served up just steps from the beach. Here we offer Cypriot alternatives to some of the Greek Island beaches you already know.
If you like St. George Beach then you’ll love Fig Tree Bay, Protaras
Naxos’ St. George Beach is known as the most family-friendly destination on the Greek Islands, but not many people know about Fig Tree Bay in Cyprus. This Protaras-based blue flag beach – a stringent certification that requires high quality services, safety, cleanliness, and more – has been rated one of the top five beaches in Europe by TripAdvisor and one of the top five in the world by Big7 Travel. Along with the crystal clear waters that you’ll find up and down the Famagusta coast, the beach offers fine, soft golden sands.
Aside from the unbeatable scenery, Fig Tree Bay offers something for everyone – even impossible to please teenagers. For the older and more adventurous family, you’ll find paragliding and waterskiing offered right off the beach. Kiosks offer everything beachgoers might need from sun chairs and parasols to floats and toys for the younger members of the family. When you’ve had enough fun in the sun, the pedestrian street that runs the length of the beach offers a range of tavernas offering familiar favorites and traditional treats like souvlaki and lokma to go.
If you like Paradise Beach then you’ll love Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa
Both Mykonos and Ayia Napa are known as major party destinations in the Mediterranean so it makes sense to compare the two. Mykonos’ Paradise Beach is beautiful but Nissi Beach is one of the most Instagrammed beaches in the world, something the Greek Island beach can’t say. Nissi Beach is gorgeous, there is no denying it. The golden sands are sheltered from the wind making the surf gentler than most beaches in the area and perfect for just lounging out on a float or for taking a swim in the warm, turquoise waters.
Nissi Beach is also known for its atmosphere. All along the beach you’ll find kiosks right on the sand selling snacks, trinkets, and drinks as well as countless bars and tavernas lining the edge of the beach. Along the 500 meter beach there are nine different bars and eateries serving up food and drinks like the traditional Cypriot brandy sour made with locally sourced lemon mash, bitters, soda water, and Zivania brandy which can only be found in Cyprus. When the sun goes down and the more casual beach goers head home for dinner, this strip lights up. The bars which are quiet havens during the day become beacons of fun with live music, DJs, and dancing until late in the night.
If you like Plaka Beach then you’ll love Konnos Bay, Cape Greco
Plaka Beach in Naxos is known as one of the quietest and most relaxing beaches on the Greek Islands. Cyprus’ answer to it is Konnos Bay, a quiet bay tucked into the Cape Greco National Forest Park. It’s location directly between Ayia Napa and Protaras tends to keep it from many tourist’s travel itineraries despite its beauty and tranquility. The beach itself is tucked in between bleached cliff faces topped with ancient pine trees.
Unlike the other beaches on this list, there are no nearby tavernas and restaurants but that is the appeal to this kind of destination. Rather than busy city streets visitors to Konnos Bay will find sea caves and nature trails that lead to ever more secluded shores. Rather than thinking about getting a drink and a bite to eat, pack a picnic complete with local olives, bread, and – of course – a bottle of Cypriot Commandaria to enjoy on your own private stretch of rocky beach.