I like traveling to resort destinations that aren’t filled with Americans. It isn’t that I dislike American tourists. I just find it so much more interesting to meet people from other cultures — something I couldn’t do back home in the States. Cyprus, not a typical destination for Americans, is a popular summer vacation spot for Russians, Lebanese, Scandinavians, and Brits.
I spent three nights in Ayia Napa, which is along the southeast coast of Cyprus. You might compare the vibe of the town to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Ayia Napa, or Napa as the locals call it, has arguably the best beaches in Cyprus; they’re comparable to those in France, Italy, or Greece.
I recommend a stay at the beachfront Grecian Bay Hotel. Their white sand beach with clear aqua waters on the Mediterranean sea, and wide range of water sports will keep any kind of traveler occupied. The hotel is an affordable yet upscale luxury property with beautiful pools, a spa, and outdoor dining. My only complaint is that the rooms were sparse (but admittedly spacious) and could use some upgrading. Otherwise, the location and facilities were terrific. While the resort is perfect for families, there are also many young couples. The hotel also offered daily themed dinner buffets outdoors. Rubbing shoulders and chatting with other travelers from so many interesting countries was certainly a treat. The bottom line: You’ll get much more for your money here than at other beach resorts across mainland Europe. Rates start at 50 Euro per person, per night in a double room (about $67).
The resort is located just five minutes from the center of Ayia Napa. While the town itself is on the tacky side (and is known more for its college-age party bar scene), a 10-minute taxi ride east will land you in Protaras. This town is decidedly more upscale and I found it more pleasant for an evening out to enjoy dinner and drinks. Get a taste for the high life (without paying too much) and take one of the stretch Mercedes taxis for around 10 Euro (about $13.50). These taxis are found everywhere – apparently to accommodate the larger families that vacation in Protaras.
Getting there: There are direct flights from London, Amsterdam, and other cities to Larnaca, Cyprus. Larnaca is then about a 40-minute drive to Ayia Napa, and costs 50 to 60 Euro by taxi. Fix a price with the driver before you get in.