7 ways to experience the wonderful wilds of Cyprus

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

You can easily spend a week, even two, lazing on a beach in Cyprus*. And I thoroughly recommend it. But if you do drag yourself off the sands, a whole country full of adventure awaits. And I'm not just talking about the island's famous hiking trails.

Ways to experience the wilds of Cyprus © Georgios Tsichlis - Alamy Stock Photo
Ways to experience the wilds of Cyprus © Georgios Tsichlis - Alamy Stock Photo

Put your paperback down for a real thrill ride diving in search of shipwrecks, surfing world-class breaks and even skiing. This island nation constantly surprises when you explore beyond those beaches.

Getting to Cyprus: you'll find a wider range of deals on holidays to Cyrpus with TUI*, which departs from airports across the UK.

Go swimming

Ok, so veteran outdoor swimmers might allow themselves a wry smile at the 'new' lockdown trend of what's termed wild, open water or sea swimming.

But there really is nothing quite as life-affirming as plunging into the open sea, an experience guaranteed to not so much blow away the cobwebs as blasting them off into the surf.

Cyprus boasts over 50 EU Blue Flag accredited beaches, awarded for their cleanliness and water quality, so there are plenty of opportunities for taking a dip. There are even swimming trails you can follow.

Bump along on a Jeep safari

Forget hiring a car; instead, head out on a Jeep safari. Not only are these adrenaline-pumping fun, but you get to explore the less-visited parts of the rugged east coast as you go.

Exploring the Avakas Gorge while on a Jeep safari © Galyna Andrushko - Alamy Stock Photo
Exploring the Avakas Gorge while on a Jeep safari © Galyna Andrushko - Alamy Stock Photo

We're talking off-road adventures to remote beaches, hidden coves and mysterious sea caves. Safaris in the Troodos Mountains bump you past gushing waterfalls and rushing through thick forests as you tackle the steep terrain.

The same company behind the Troodos trips, Dino's Tours, also organises trip to the wild Akamas Peninsula.

Get on your bike

For years, Cyprus was more known for its rough mountain biking than road cycling; mystifying really, given that the mountain roads are just as suitable as those in cycling hubs like Majorca and the Canaries.

That has all changed with the arrival of the Cyprus Gran Fondo (a UCI Gran Fondo World Championships qualifier), which has put the island nation firmly on the road cycling map.

Spring and autumn are the best times for two-wheeled experiences when the temperatures are cooler and there is less risk of ice and snow in the Troodos Mountains.

The highest point in these mountains is 500m higher than anything on Majorca, so get geared up for a tough challenge, especially if you're setting off from sea level.

It's quite a feat conquering Mount Olympus; we're talking 150 km with a full 2,000m of climbing. Gradients on the upper slopes often reach double digits!

Off-road MTB comes into its own with some testing well-maintained tracks through the mountains and forests. For family-friendly cycles, there are great routes along the coast.

Take to four legs

As a country, Cyprus loves its horses and the island is really well set up for equestrian escapades.

It's quite the experience to ease across this deeply dramatic landscape in the shadows of Greeks and the Romans; they would have cantered across these same trails all those centuries ago.

Riding trails on the west coast of Cyprus - photo courtesy of George's Ranch, Paphos
Riding trails on the west coast of Cyprus - photo courtesy of George's Ranch, Paphos

The is a sprinkling of horse riding clubs and an island equestrian federation. If you want tuition or to head out on the trails, George's Ranch in Paphos* gets you in the saddle.

Dive world-class wrecks

One of my favourite spots is the HMS Cricket. No ghoulish war grave, this old British Royal Navy gunboat was once used for target practice, with Navy shells and rough weather eventually sinking it in 1947.

Nature has since reclaimed its upside-down hulk so it's a wreck dive that feels like a reef in Larnaca Bay. The wreck sits at depth of 27m. Experienced and qualified divers swim around and inside the hull. You'll be in good company with the nosy local groupers.

Diving on the wreck of the Zenobia, Cyprus © Nikolay - Adobe Stock Image
Diving on the wreck of the Zenobia, Cyprus © Nikolay - Adobe Stock Image

Another popular wreck dive is the 172m-long Zenobia, also off the coast of Larnaca*; it's a wreck dive of global renown.

The Zenobia is a Swedish-built ferry that sank disastrously on its maiden voyage in 1980. Today, experienced divers can still see the trucks strapped on deck while meeting local turtles.

Surf's up

Forget a lazy lilo or a noisy jet ski. The ultimate test of man, or woman, versus water, has to be surfing. Handily Cyprus offers world-class conditions with something to suit everyone, from total beginners right through to those looking to test themselves and brush up on their skills.

Surfing off the west coast of Cyprus © FomaA - Adobe Stock Image
Surfing off the west coast of Cyprus © FomaA - Adobe Stock Image

The best surf spots are generally found on the west of the island with decent Mediterranean swells and breaks.

Toxeftra Beach and Lara Beach are particularly good. At Lara Beach, you'll have to look out for the turtles who love to bob around in this undeveloped nature reserve. Other highlights include the sandbar break at Venus Beach and the reef break at Cripplers Beach.

Hit the piste!

No really, you can indeed ski in Cyprus. One of Europe's most southerly ski fields does sound unlikely, but when you consider the height of the Troodos Mountains, which soar to almost 2,000m, skiing in Cyprus starts to make sense.

The season is short, typically running from January to March, with the Cyprus Ski Federation & Club the guys who keep the runs going.

The most exhilarating runs are on Mount Olympus itself, sweeping down for up to 500m. You can rent skis and all the gear here so you won't need to heft it all with you when you fly.

Weather in Cyprus

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above shows the weather in Paphos. You find out more about conditions across the islands in our complete guide to the weather in Cyrpus.

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie
Posted on Wednesday 3rd August 2022 in: Adventure Beach Europe Excursions Nature

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