As the third largest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus has plenty of beaches to choose from. The sandy shores of the eastern coast are a paradise for sun worshipers and beach babes, while the choppier waves on the west coast attract surfer dudes and water sports enthusiasts.
Many of Cyprus’ beaches have been awarded coveted Blue Flag status, too. The Blue Flag certification recognises the environmental quality and water cleanliness of a beach, as well as the areas commitment to eco-tourism. Cyprus’ beaches also continuously rank highly when measured against other seaside spots in Europe.
But with so much choice, which beach should you head to when holidaying in Cyprus? As I found out when visiting the country at the end of April, some of the “beaches” can be a bit hit or miss – though awarded a Blue Flag, they weren’t the kind of beach you could spend the day building sandcastles or paddling with kiddies. So here’s an overview of the beaches I visited while staying in the south of Cyprus for a week…
Coral Bay, Paphos.
If you’re looking for a beach in Cyprus that’s suitable for everyone, the gorgeous Coral Bay is the perfect choice. For those with kids, when the tide is out the little ones can play safely in the shallow waters, while adults can enjoy lounging in the sun (or the shade of a parasol) on a sun bed. And those with a penchant for water sports can spend hours out at sea trying the various activities on offer, including jet skis and pedalos.
With golden sands nestled in a medium-sized cove, protected from strong currents by the surrounding limestone cliffs, Coral Bay is one of the best sandy beaches in area. So just about anyone and everyone (locals and tourists alike) flock to the horseshoe-shaped cove in the summer season. Luckily, the stretch is long enough to also accommodate those looking for a little respite away from the crowded hustle and bustle in the spots directly below the beach bars.
To get there from Paphos just jump on the bus – it’s 1.50€ each way. Hiring a sun lounger will cost you 2.50€, and a parasol a further 2.50€.
Fig Tree Bay, Protaras.
Aptly named because of the idyllic fig trees that line the edge of the beach, Fig Tree Bay in Protaras is one of the most popular beaches on the west coast of Cyprus. And it’s not hard to see why; the soft white 500m stretch of sand here is breathtakingly beautiful.
Fig Tree Bay was revered as the third best beach in Europe by TripAdvisor in 2011, and it has also been awarded a Blue Flag. The islet has shallow waters and picturesque paddling pools, making it an ideal place for children, though venture a little further out and it’s deep enough for kayaking and jetskis. And for the history buffs, in 2010 an ancient Greek tomb containing four coffins was found on the road leading to the beach, thought to have been untouched for thousands of years.
Protaras is about a 2-hour drive from Paphos, but there is plenty of free parking once you get there. Unfortunately the day my friend and I visited it was a little overcast (though this didn’t stop us going a bit pink). After a few hours of chilling, we headed up the cliff to find a beach bar, where we had amazing cocktails and ice cream sundaes, before exploring Protaras a little more.
Faros Beach, Paphos.
Faros Beach, also known as Lighthouse Beach, gets its name from the lighthouse which is situated high up on the rocks behind it (accessible once inside the Paphos Archeological Park). It’s a small beach, located to the west of Paphos, which can be accessed easily by car or bus. Or if you’re walking or on a bike, you can take the scenic coastal path (it was about a 15-minute walk from the Kissos Hotel, where I stayed in the centre of Paphos).
As with any lighthouse location, the coast here is very rocky, so I wouldn’t plan a whole day at Faros Beach. It’s definitely worth a visit at sunset for the amazing views though. There are a small number of sunbeds and parasols on the beach, as well toilets, showers and changing rooms. However I didn’t use these when I visited. Instead, I sat watching the sun go down, enjoying a few cans of Cypriot beer Keo while listening to a 90s playlist pumping from the beach bar’s stereo. It was the perfect evening.
Have you been to Cyprus? Which beaches have you visited? Let me know your recommendations by leaving a comment below.