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Cyprus: 7 days circumnavigating the island on a luxury yacht
Wonderful mosiacs and harbour-front tavernas
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and is lovingly nicknamed the ‘island of love’. Whether you are chartering a superyacht in Cyprus or enjoying the island on a private yacht there is plenty to discover.
Although it is definitely European, its close proximity to the east means little influences from Turkey, Syria and Lebanon occasionally creep in.
A cruise around its southern shores is a little bit like a history lesson in mythology; marvel at the ancient birthplace of Aphrodite, who allegedly sprang from the waters just 15-miles off the coast of Paphos or wander around the ancient ruins in Larnaca and Kourion.
For the party crowd (and the young-at-heart) Ayia Napa is considered one of the top Mediterranean party destinations and after a night on the town, your yacht awaits with a lazy day at sea to recover.
Day 1: Wonderful mosiacs and harbour-front tavernas
Most international flights land at Paphos, so it would make sense to meet your yacht in the harbour there. Once you have settled on board, go ashore in the late afternoon and spend an hour or two looking round the Kato Pafos Archaeological Park near the harbour — one of many on-shore activites that Cyprus has to offer.
This is a wonderful site with remains spanning 2000 years of history. When you have had your fill of history and culture, meander to one of the many harbour-front cafes and restaurants for a sundowner before heading back to your yacht.
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Dolphins, Turtles and deserted beaches
Heading north from Paphos, a couple of hours cruise brings you to the Akamas Peninsular, one of Cyprus’ most beautiful areas of coastline and a national park.
The scenery is spectacular, with wooded mountain sides where wild mountain sheep roam, sandy coves where turtles nest and dolphins swim, and where beautiful sea cliffs plunge into crystal clear waters.
Spend the day at anchor, swimming or exploring in the tender. This area is so beautiful that you might consider spending a day or two here, depending on time and schedules.
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Historic castles and fabulous harbours
Once you have had your fill of stunning scenery and deserted beaches, head north-east along the north coast of the island. This coast is rocky and as a result is far less built-up than other parts of Cyprus.
Kyrenia is a good place to stop, and although there are no specific superyacht facilities here, if your yacht isn’t too large they should be able to find space for you in the harbour.
The castle that dominates this picturesque town dates back to the 12th Century and is definitely worth exploring. And if time permits, grab a taxi and go a couple of miles inland to visit the extraordinary castle of St Hilarion.
Also nearby is the Abbey of Bellapais, which has spectacular views out to sea, and which also has a fairly good restaurant (Kybele) in the Abbey grounds with lovely views of the Abbey and the surrounding countryside.
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Lazy day exploring the beaches of the north coast
Continuing east along Cyprus’ north coast, you can see that mass-tourism has not really gained a foothold here. The coast is mostly rocky, with small sandy coves, which makes it great for cruising yachts, but not so good for high-rise hotels and package-holiday tourism.
Spend the day meandering eastwards, stopping at secluded beaches that take your fancy or soak up the sun on a sun-lounger on the aft-deck.
End a lazy, relaxing day at sea by putting in to Karpaz Gate Marina, with its excellent facilities for visiting superyachts. The marina is part of a modern resort, where there is a lively commercial promenade with shops, restaurants and bars, and the first stage of a hotel complex, beach club and casino. The marina also makes a great base if you decide you would rather spend all your time in undiscovered Northern Cyprus.
National Parks, clubbing, and historical Larnaca
Rounding the north-east tip of Cyprus, be sure to spend a few hours coast-hopping along the southern beaches of the Karpass National Park, where you will find long, empty beaches lapped by cool, crystal waters. After lunch, head south around Cape Greco and head for Larnaca.
You could, should you feel so inclined, stop in at Ayia Napa and give the kids a taste of whatever it is they do in Ayia Napa, but anyone over the age of 30 will probably want to give it a miss.
Larnaca, however, has a lot more to offer — the old town and fort are fascinating, and there are a couple of museums that are well worth a visit if you’re at all interested in the history of Cyprus.
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Journey into the interior
If you want to see more of Cyprus than harbours and beaches, this is your chance. Pick up a hire-car early in the morning, send the yacht on to Limassol, and spend the day driving through the interior of the island.
The Troodos Mountains that make up much of the island’s hinterland are stunningly beautiful, and quite different from the Cyprus you will have seen so far.
Mountain-top villages, remote monasteries, and the famous “painted churches” of the Troodos Mountains offer some of the most astonishing Byzantine frescoes you will ever see.
The roads are narrow and twisting, and the scenery breath-taking, so don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take you to get somewhere. At the end of the day, head out of the mountains and back down to Limassol to meet your yacht. Limassol Marina can accommodate yachts up to 110 metres and has every amenity you could want including a luxury spa and gym.
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Swimming at the birthplace of Aphrodite
In the morning, take a taxi 10 miles west to the ancient ruins of Kourion. There was a significant town here from 1500 B.C. to 350 A.D., and the cliff-top ruins overlooking the sea are spectacular.
Returning to your yacht head west along the coast, stopping en route to admire the birth-place of Aphrodite, who sprang from the waves as a site around 15 miles east of Paphos.
Be sure to take a dip here and be photographed emerging, like Botticelli’s Venus, from the waves! Return to Paphos, your starting point, in the knowledge that you have experienced one of the most interesting and beautiful islands in the Mediterranean.
Picture courtesy of Kirill M/Shutterstock.com