The town of Paphos, located on the south coast of Cyprus, has many attractions. It is a recognised UNESCO site for its many historical and archaeological sites, including Paphos Castle, a medieval fort built to defend the harbour; the ruined castle of Saranta Kolenes; the Tombs of the Kings, a network of underground vaults dating from the 4th century BC; the remains of city walls; and Roman buildings. A little inland you can find pine forested slopes, ancient monasteries and traditional villages.
Paphos is also a town of where the old meets the new. Contemporary events and festivals include open air opera and various art exhibitions and craft fairs. It is a town that welcomes visitors, with many excellent shops, bars and restaurants, together with various art galleries and museums. Sip cocktails and try delicious seafood dishes at one of the local tavernas, or soak up the sun at one of the town’s Blue Flag beaches.
The beaches around Paphos town are aimed towards tourists seeking the traditional holiday pursuits of sunbathing, swimming and water sports. But to the north of Paphos, there is a wilder, more remote side to the region. On the Akamas Peninsula is Lara Bay Beach, a broad, almost deserted stretch of beach which appeals to those seeking a more naturalistic setting and escape from the crowds. The water is warm, clear and blue from spring until autumn and there are plenty of superb walks in the region. At Lara Bay, the beautiful scenery and tranquil atmosphere is more than reason enough to visit.
But there is more to Lara Bay than a gorgeously rugged sand and pebble beach. Lara Bay is also known as Turtle Beach, and this is a sanctuary for endangered green and loggerhead turtles; the beach is actually the only breeding site left for green turtles in the Mediterranean. Thanks to the efforts of the local authorities, public and volunteers the numbers of these turtles have increased and are now remaining steady. Turtles nest on the beach from July through to September.
Visitors to Lara Bay can explore the many nature trails. If you are interested in botany, then look out for native orchids and crocuses; spring is the best time to visit for wild flowers. The site is also a haven for migrating birds, and endangered monk seals might be spotted around the sea caves. This is Cyprus away from the resorts and modern developments, and away from the sunbeds and the umbrellas, which are not allowed at Lara Bay.
Lara Bay is remote and reached by dirt tracks – of which there are many miles to discover. From Paphos it is about a 2-hour drive, and there is some beautiful scenery en route. Enjoy a visit to the beach with car hire in Paphos, either by booking in advance or when you arrive. Hiring a four wheel drive jeep is preferable because of the unsurfaced tracks. If you have a taste for adventure and love of the wilderness and natural flora and fauna, then Lara Bay is a must see.