After our stay in Paphos, we hopped in our rental car and drove to Protaras. This beachside resort town features a lively stretch of resorts, restaurants, souvenir shopping and karaoke bars aimed at British and Russian tourists. The beaches here are busy, but spectacular!
We found the drive from Paphos to Protaras to be very easy, safe and well marked. The only challenge was the left hand driving for us North Americans! The route was mostly a divided highway with roundabouts at major intersections. We had downloaded the directions by phone prior to leaving our hotel and had no problems following the route. In town we didn’t really use the car at all, since everything we needed was within easy walking distance.
We stayed at the Sunrise Gardens hotel which was located conveniently right across the street from the beach. It is one of several ‘Sunrise’ brand hotels in Protaras, and had great reviews on TripAdvisor. The hotel is bright, clean and modern with a beachy feel and several pools. We found it a bit strange when booking that the only option available was for half board, which includes two meals a day in the nightly rate. Luckily, the food was great! Overall the hotel was great, although it was a bit loud at night, being right on the main strip. Karaoke is a big deal in this town and I was happy to have packed my earplugs (one too many enthusiastic renditions of ‘wonderwall’…).
The breakfast buffet at the hotel was extensive and tasty with all the typical hot and cold options – bacon & eggs, fruit, yogurt and pastries. For dinner, we took advantage of their ‘dine around’ option a couple of the nights. This allows you to eat at several restaurants in their affiliated hotels located just down the street, instead of the buffet dinner (which was also good). The italian place, Marcello’s, was especially great! An appetizer, main and dessert were included – this was a ton of food and they didn’t skimp on the cheese and cured meats!
Things To Do
Beach Time: We spent the majority of our time enjoying the spectacular beach at Fig Tree Bay. Although it is very busy and extremely touristy, this beach has stunning clear turquoise water and beautiful clean sand. The municipality runs umbrella and sunbed rentals which is actually a great system. You simply pick out a vacant spot and an attendant comes around to take your payment – you get a receipt with a wifi code and have the spot for the whole day.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants close by to grab a drink or a snack. The crystal clear water is great for snorkelling and we saw lots of fish. Although the sea life here is not as colourful as some parts of the world, it was still a lot of fun!
The Fly Fish: So, I’m not a thrill seeker and I don’t enjoy heights or roller coasters, but after a day of watching people zip around the bay tubing, waterskiing and parasailing, I got up the nerve to try out the fly fish! I didn’t get a good photo of it, but it is basically a large inflatable for two that is towed behind a boat and can launch several feet into the air if you’re heading into the wind. I assumed that we were probably too heavy to get much air…turns out I was totally wrong! I screamed pretty much the entire time, but it was so much fun.
Boat Cruise: There are several companies offering boat cruises along the coast, leaving from the dock located at the end of the main beach. We decided on a 2 hour afternoon tour on the Napa King II. We boarded a bit early and settled into a prime spot along the railing where we could dangle our feet over the side, and enjoy a few beverages.
The tour headed along the coast to a spot near the border with the Turkish side of the island. From here we could make out the skyline of Famagusta ghost town – a tourist resort strip abandoned since the 70’s. Quite an interesting sight, but a bit sad and eerie for a beautiful sunny vacation day!
We continued on alongside several sea caves and rock formations and stopped for a swim in a crystal clear deep bay adjacent striking rock cliffs. We had brought our snorkels along and once we were in the water, the crew threw in some fish food. Within moments we were amidst a huge school of silvery fish. It was pretty amazing! The husband also showed off his skills diving off the boat’s second level diving board. Such a fun way to spend a few hours. I would definitely recommend the afternoon cruise as the morning tours looked packed!